Start Your Pediatric Private Practice Today
With the continued rise of childhood obesity, the need for dietitian’s to take action is becoming greater and greater. There is a high demand right now for assisting the youth and their families in gaining nutritional knowledge and people are willing to pay for it. The time is now to start a pediatric private practice. So jump into the game and ask yourself the following questions.
#1. Do you want to work with both children and their families? This question is extremely important, emphasizes Emma Fogt, MS, MBA, RD, LDN, “creating a lifetime of healthy eating” and previous owner of a successful pediatric private practice in the greater Philadelphia area. Working with pediatrics includes working with the entire family and groups can get complicated. Make sure you are ready to work in a group setting with different dynamics between multiple family members.
#2. Insurance or private paying clients? Do you want to take both or just one or the other?
Insurance will require registering with an insurance provider and then networking with clinics and doctors’ offices. If you can get in with just 2-3 doctors offices that have about 4-5 doctors and you are on good terms with the office manager who makes all the referrals, you will be busy! At my practice, we get about 10 new referrals a week and have the opportunity to see the children up to 10 visits a year.
Private paying clients will require marketing and networking with not only physician groups but local mothers’ groups/organizations, other youth programs, and more. Conducting presentations with these organizations is a good way to get recognized. During a presentation, the families can learn what you have to offer and the value you will provide. Another marketing strategy is writing for community and target group newsletters. The more people see your name, the more clients you will get. Word-of-mouth is always highly powerful, too. Private clients do pay more for services than most insurance providers and there are fewer limitations with number of visits. Once you get a few private paying clients, the others will follow.
#3. What age groups do want to work with? Fogt states you can decide to focus on a specific age group such as adolescents or infants, on allergies or eating disorders etc, or you can do general pediatric nutrition and take everyone. The advantage of focusing on an age group or disease process is that it allows you to tailor your pediatric programs. But the bottom line is to accommodate the different learning needs and levels of the different aged children.
#4. How are you going to involve pediatrics in your counseling? At my practice, we have interactive learning lessons which include games for the youth to stay engaged. Parents get involved, too, and it’s a fun environment for the entire family. Knowing what levels of learning are appropriate for the different age groups of pediatrics and adolescents is important in order to have everyone involved and motivated to make behavioral change.
#5. How do you work with the different viewpoints of the family members when counseling? Understanding how the youth can be affected by one’s peers or what they’re actually willing to do is necessary to know where they are coming from, explains Fogt. Youth think and react to situations differently than adults. Being respectful and listening to both the parents and the kids’ perspectives is important in order to make the appropriate assessment and provide guidance to the family’s needs and goals. Be a good listener and express empathy so that you build trust. This can help to motivate the clients to make change from within. Listening to the perspectives from each parent is also important in gathering a bigger picture of family, environment and attitudes towards working as a team.
By determining the answers to these questions, you can develop your program and start to market your pediatric private practice. A rewarding aspect when working with the younger generation is “seeing kids grow up and years later they tell you they still practice what you taught them and even have the handouts you gave them. When you’ve changed someone’s life, and you see it, that is a true reward,” enlightens Fogt.
To find out more about counseling youth check out the following:
- Certificate of Training in Childhood and Adolescent Weight Management from the Commission on Dietetic Registration
- Counseling Overweight and Obese Children and Teens, Health Care Reference and Client Education Handouts, Jodie Shield, MEd, RD, & Mary Catherine Mullen, MS, RD. ISBN # 978-0-88091-368-3
- The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: Pediatric Manual of Clinical Dietetics. Editor – Carol Parkman Williams, MS, RD, CSP.
Sarah Koszyk is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach at Eating Free, an online adult weight management program. She also provides in-person nutrition coaching at a private practice, MV Nutrition, in San Francisco, CA, where she specializes in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.