Creating Business Savvy Naturopathic Doctors
New Program Seeks to Fund the Future of Naturopathic Practice
Medicine is business, not just promoting health and healing what ails a person. So what’s a recent graduate with school loans as high as 250K supposed to do when they do not fit the model that investors are looking for in a business venture?
Each year, nearly 500 naturopathic doctors (ND) graduate from one of six schools. A majority will struggle to launch and maintain a practice, largely due to the financial burden of loan repayment while needing to earn a living wage. While there aren’t any hard-and-fast figures specific to Naturopathic Medicine, fledgling practices carry the same risks as any other new business—including failure within the first three years.
According to Dr. Eli Camp, co-founder of Medicine Talk Professional (MTK-Pro), a primary reason why these new NDs fail at fulfilling their dream is lack of solid business training before launching a practice, and lack of ongoing support and training for business development.
“Our resources indicate that as much as forty percent of graduates don’t even go into private practice, and of the sixty percent who do, 10-20% fail within the first three years. Lack of business development and marketing skills relevant to the medical profession is part of the problem. A compounding factor is a shortage of people willing to loan, invest or grant money to NDs .”[double_paragraph][block]MTK-Pro has set the goal to turn the tides on this problem and bolster the success of newly minted NDs and their practices. For ten years, MTK-Pro has been at the forefront of creating and providing business development services for NDs. Now, they are turning their attention to supporting recent graduates in the launch and maintenance of their practices. The MTK-Pro Business Initiative Program will offer financial assistance to new graduates looking to open a private practice. The awards will consist of a financial package comprised of grant funds as well as business coaching and business development services. The program is not just for new graduates; applications will also be accepted from practicing doctors with a demonstrated need to restructure their practice.
Award recipients may use their award funds in a variety of ways, such as providing a financial base for paying business expenses, building websites, paying for advertising, office equipment and software.
The program officially launches in August 2015. At that time, MTK-Pro will post the application online. The applicant review process will begin immediately and continue on a monthly basis to award funds that are already in place. In addition, a crowd-funding campaign will launch on IndieGoGo in May 2015.
“Even as we are in discussion with a variety of contributors , we have funded and we will continue to fund this program ourselves along with our first corporate contributor, Emerson Ecologics,” said Dr. Jennifer Southard, a partner and program director with MTK-Pro.
“Through the IndieGoGo campaign, we are inviting private and corporate communities to rally financial support for the doctors who are the future of naturopathic medicine.”[/block][block]
Through resources provided by MTK-Pro or approved providers, award recipients will be mentored as they prepare to launch their practice with a sound business model and learn to be owners of a successful naturopathic practice.
“What makes this different is our focus on demonstrating to consumer and corporate communities that the contributions they move into this program are not just being given away without consideration to the long-term success of the recipients,” said Dr. Camp.
“While this may sound a bit lofty, we would like to be able to give some type of meaningful support to every graduate who submits the application appropriately. Additionally, we would like to be able to show statistics for how many folks we help to launch and maintain a viable and successful practice,” added Dr. Camp.
The BIP application process is ongoing, without deadlines, 365 days a year. To qualify for the program, an applicant must have attended and graduated from one of the accredited schools listed by the American Association of Naturopathic Medical Schools. Fourth year students are encouraged to apply but funds will not be disbursed until they have successfully completed their degree and the NPLEX (see side bar).
Other key components of the application process include submitting a practice business and marketing plan and an interview.
“Creating a business and marketing plan is the first step to being able to achieve success with one’s practice. It also demonstrates that the applicant has put thought into each aspect of launching a practice, for example, doing market research and preparing financials,” explained Dr. Camp.
“The things that we are looking for—the key components of a business and marketing plan—are all basic to any business but will need to be made relevant for each applicant’s unique goals,” stated Dr. Southard.
During the interview component, applicants will be asked questions tailored to the plan they have presented in their application. “The interview is their opportunity to share their passion and their personality, and to bring their practice plan to life for us,” added Dr. Camp.