top of page

Why You Don’t Need Another Certification To Start Your Own Practice

Have you ever found yourself caught in the vicious cycle of thinking, "I'll start my practice after I finish this next course" or "Once I get this certification, then I'll feel ready"? Many physical therapists, myself included, have experienced this hesitation before taking the leap into starting our own cash based practices. 

Join me as we dive into the reality of your expertise and readiness to start your own practice, even if you’re fresh out of school. Waiting for the perfect time may never come, so I would encourage you to get started today.

Why You're Qualified to Start

In the world of physical therapy, the only way we can legally treat patients is by obtaining a doctoral degree and passing the strenuous licensure exam following graduation. We've already put in the hard work and countless hours of studying to earn those credentials we much deserve. 

Yet, when looking to start our own practice, we often convince ourselves that we need more education, more certifications, more courses to feel prepared. But the truth is, we already have everything we need to start seeing patients independently.

Looking for a little motivation? Check out some of our practice owner success stories here.

Why Do We Feel Inadequate?

When you apply for a job at a clinic or a hospital, you're not expected to have a laundry list of certifications beyond your degree and license. You're hired based on your qualifications and potential to help patients with the degree you’ve worked hard to achieve. Why is it that we hold ourselves to a higher standard when it comes to starting our own cash based physical therapy practices?

I think when it comes down to it, we all have the tendency to slip into this feeling of “imposter syndrome.” This can happen in various ways, including not feeling like you have enough experience, that you wouldn’t make a good business owner, or that patients would never choose to come see you over the “big name” clinic in your town. 

Learn how to ditch imposter syndrome in the blog post here.

The reality is, there will always be more to learn and imperfect action will take you farther than waiting for the right moment to take action. No matter how many courses or certifications you accumulate, there will always be new research, new techniques, and new challenges that you will have to navigate in your clinical practice, whether that be employed or self-employed.

Waiting for the day when you feel totally equipped to take the leap may never come.

Why Waiting Doesn't Help

If you're on the fence as to whether to start your practice or pursue another certification, my advice is simple: start your business. The classes and certifications will always be there at any point you are ready to pursue them. If you don't take the plunge and start implementing what you've learned with real patients or even what you learned in school or clinical rotations, you'll never progress and never reach the goals you’ve set for yourself.

Take CEUs in Your Niche

As physical therapists, we're naturally inclined to seek out new knowledge and improve our skills. We adopt the oath of lifelong learning when we go into this profession. However, when starting your own practice, it's essential to narrow your focus, or “niche down” in order to best market yourself, your practice, and become known as the expert in your particular specialty. 

You can't be an expert in everything, contrary to what we’re led to believe when we get out of school. In the clinic setting, we’re expected to treat anything and everything that walks through the doors. This opposite is true for starting your cash based practice. By honing in on a specific niche or population, you can direct your learning efforts toward areas you are actually passionate about and specific to the needs of your target population.

For example, I've focused my practice on working with fitness athletes, CrossFitters, and even more narrow, pelvic health for female fitness athletes. By dedicating my time to these specific areas when deciding what continuing education courses to pursue, I've been able to deepen my expertise and provide better patient care and outcomes for my clients.

There's No Perfect Time

But what about clinical experience? How much is enough to feel confident in starting your own practice? The truth is, there's no magic number or years of clinical practice you need to have under your belt. Some therapists may feel ready after a couple of years treating patients, while others may still have doubts after a decade in the field. 

I would encourage you, whatever phase you’re at in your clinical experience, take the leap into entrepreneurship if you’re at all curious. This goes for brand new graduates too. The beauty of this process is that you learn as you go, both in the employed clinic setting, and when starting a practice of your own. 

If the thought of not knowing what to do with a more complex patient really bothers you, there are always external resources and other providers out there that have the knowledge and guidance you’re seeking. I would encourage you to build professional connections within your niche, seek guidance from fellow colleagues, and refer your patients to specialists in the field if you feel it’s necessary. There’s no harm in admitting you don’t know something or asking for help.


Ultimately, starting your own practice is a journey filled with challenges and rewards. Yes, there will be bumps along the way, but the freedom and autonomy that comes with working for yourself is unmatched. Don’t let fear be the deciding factor that holds you back. You have the knowledge, skills, and passion to start your cash based practice today. 

If you’re struggling to determine if starting a practice is right for you, get in touch with me! I would be more than happy to talk through things with you. Or if you’re looking for immediate direction, check out my blog post here where I dive into how to know if you’re ready to start a practice.

If you are seeking more individualized direction and need guidance to get started check out our DPT to CEO Business Coaching program here.

Listen to this episode on my podcast!

DPT to CEO the podcast

Recent Posts

See All


find more
bottom of page