PT Classroom - Starting a Private Physical Therapy Practice ׀ by Chad Novasic, PT


Chad Novasic is the President and CEO of Alliant Physical Therapy Group. He is a 1988 graduate of Marquette University. His focus has been in the field of outpatient orthopedic rehabilitation and injury prevention. Chad has been an independent Physical Therapist since 1989. He is proud to be active in the community having served as President of the Wisconsin Independent Physical Therapists, and on the Board of the Racine Founders Rotary and the Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association. Over the years, Chad's passion for physical therapy and helping others has complimented his capacity to help fellow physical therapists open and run successful private physical therapy practices.  

Private Practice Physical Therapy. This term scares some physical therapists, excites others and confuses many. What is private practice PT? How do they make a living? Can I start a private practice? What does it take to succeed?

Physical therapy has been evolving as a profession over the last 50 years. And recently terms like “Autonomy” have been closely related to private practice. As physical therapy evolves into a “doctoring” profession the evolution into private practice is inevitable for many PT’s. While many PT’s are excited about this change, many are apprehensive about it. Further complicating this transition is a messy and complicated reimbursement system.

First things first

The first question that you have to answer when going into a private practice is the question “Why?”. Why do you want to go into private practice? What do you want to accomplish? How will going into private practice help you achieve your, professional, personal and spiritual goals? When you are on your own you need to have a reason to get up in the morning. You no longer have a boss or a guarantee, and when times get tough you need to know why to move forward.


“Success is when opportunity and preparation meet”. This quote is often seen on motivational posters, and it is accurate. We know that there is plenty of opportunity for physical therapists. We have a shortage of providers and the aging “baby boomer” population is providing us ample amounts of potential patients. Therefore, you need to be prepared for the leap into private practice.” You need to prepare a personal financial statement. You need to find out how much you can afford to put into starting a new practice. You want to identify your competition and will the area you want to open support a private practice. Are your skills good enough to stand on your own? You need to identify who the payer sources are for your type of clinic. In short you need a good business plan in order to be prepared to go into private practice.

You also need to be acutely aware to the risks involved in opening a practice. There are financial risks. You might lose money. There are personal risks. Failure is traumatic and you might be embarrassed in front of your friends and colleagues.

You must also be aware of the rewards. The satisfaction of building a practice is overwhelming. The pride you take in helping other people is great. The autonomy you experience in your professional development is rewarding. The income potential is good. You should be able to earn $90,000 – $130,000 per year. The freedom to have control of your life … Priceless.

Jumping out of the plane

When you open the doors of your own clinic, it feels like jumping out of a plane with a parachute. For a while you are free falling and you really hope the shoot opens. Before you start a practice of your own, you need to decide if you are the type of person who can jump or not. This is a critical time in the decision making process. This is where “the rubber hits the road”. Not everyone can take this leap. All the preparation in the world, all of the possible risk-reward analysis can not convince some people to make the leap. But for the right people, the jump comes naturally.


When the scary part starts, the free fall has begun. The money is going out faster than it is coming in. Now is where a true entrepreneur comes through. Every start up has its’ moments in which it seems like nothing is working. This is the time that you test your metal. But this is where clinical success is determined.

Some Help

Most physical therapists are inexperienced in the business world. And many PT’s really don’t want much to do with the business end of running a clinic. Even more troublesome are PT’s who think they know what they are doing, but really don’t have a clue. This is where consultants, networks, and affiliations come into play.

Consultants can be very helpful, but they also tend to cost a lot of money. Consultants don’t have to be high priced however. Use friends, family, and bankers who have a good understanding of business. They should look at your plan and tell you what you need to know.

Some physical therapists will join PT networks such as PTPN. This is OK for insurance contracts, but they are not very helpful for business advice, marketing advice or any other support that a start up needs.
Other physical therapists explore joining a larger group which will help start a private practice. Some of these groups, such as USPh, offer modified employment agreements in which you earn equity and have some autonomy. Other organizations like Alliant Physical Therapy Group offers you the opportunity to set up your own practice within the group. As you can see, there are many organizations and groups out there which can help you set up a private PT practice. A careful analysis should be conducted to weigh the positives and negatives for each option prior to committing to utilizing an organization or group who assists with starting up a private physical therapy practice. 

If you are thinking about starting a private practice, NOW is a great time to go into private practice! For more information on starting up a private practice you can visit the Private Practice Section of the APTA or contact Chad at


Other Private Physical Therapy Practice related articles by Chad
- Basic Equipment for Starting a Private Physical Therapy Practice
- Physical Therapy Private Practice Tips - Red Flag Rules


Last revised: June 1, 2008
by Chad Novasic, PT

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