I love Professional Development.  I love getting out of the clinic, talking to others and listening to updated information and of course the yummy lunches and morning teas are the icing on the cake.  Over the years I have been fortunate to attend some great programs and while I always learn something new I often find that PD reaffirms my current practice and the therapy I am already providing.  It’s lovely to hear that what you are doing (with a couple of tweaks) is best practice. So, PD is a positive experience which I like to repeat a couple of times a year.

Well … that isn’t what happened last week.  Last week I headed from Melbourne to Brisbane for a two-day Business conference titled, “You call the shots – Vision Strategy and Planning”.

I wasn’t in my comfort zone. I had to concentrate. I had to absorb loads of new information and rapidly set my business priorities for the next year with a plan for the next 10 years.  I didn’t feel in control or like I was calling the shots.

At the end of the first day I could barely string two words together and felt mentally and physically exhausted (I was sitting for much of the day!)

Day two was slightly better but still challenging as I set out the plan.  Don’t get me wrong, it was a marvellous conference and I have a strategic plan for what my practice will achieve for the next 12 months as well as strategies to replicate it for the following years.

The process got me thinking. Most of us running a Speech Pathology practice are trained as Speech Pathologists, and yet running a private practice requires a completely different skillset.

I have owned and managed a private practice for over 11 years and if I’m honest with myself I succeeded in the first 6 years through sheer luck and on-the-job training, otherwise known as the School of Hard Knocks.

In the last 5 years though I have changed my approach, actively seeking to improve my business management skills with the goal of making my practice as efficient as it can be.  This has been great for my staff, our clients and the partnerships we develop.  The journey is not over of course but I am really excited by the progress to date.

I strongly encourage those running private practices to talk to each other and seek out this new set of skills. We have many amazing resources available through SPA, interest groups and online.  I encourage you to build your business team.

At the conference, we were constantly prompted to dream bigger, stretch ourselves and choose to matter more.  What do those things mean to you?

I struggle with these ideas.  So much of what we do as Speech Pathologists sees us evaluating situations and seeking the pragmatic, achievable outcomes and, dare I say it, seeking compromises as the best result we can hope for.  Perhaps though this thinking limits what we can achieve not only in our business but also with our client outcomes.  The reality of challenging clients and business issues don’t go away but I wonder what we could all achieve if we allowed ourselves to dream big.

So what were my goals for PD again?

  • Get out of the clinic – DONE!
  • Meet new people doing amazing things – DONE!
  • Reaffirm what I know while challenging my thinking – REALLY DONE!
  • Yummy lunches – DONE!

Professional Development 2016 – DONE!