Vacations in Private Practice

As I am wrapping up bootcamp interviews for the end of the year, one of the questions I often ask potential bootcampers is "How many weeks do you want to take off per year?"

The most popular response? "um....." Hesitation. 

When we teach you how to plan your fees, part of the equation is looking at how many weeks off per year you will not be working. Why? We all need to be taking a vacation. It is good for you, good for our community, and good for your clients! With planning you can take time off without worry.

Planning also gives value to the client relationship. Imagine meeting with a client and already knowing the dates you will be out and having a procedure for how you handle that time off with your clients. Setting that structure in place helps the client know what to expect. In my experience, if you don't take a vacation, your clients notice. Their reaction to you taking time off is simply more grist for the mill in your work together. 

But I don't get paid if I don't work!

If you have a fee structure that is set so that you may take time off for vacation, then your vacation time is covered. You need to be setting aside funds from the time you are working to cover your expenses and life while you are on vacation. 

Another route is to have other streams of income in your practice that generate income when you are not there. These avenues vary from having employees to selling books or online courses. But first step is always have a fee structure that supports your vacation time.

But how do you take a vacation (even if it is a staycation) in this field when you are a solo practitioner?

Here's a quick checklist.

  • Give your clients some advanced notice if you don't have a routinely vacation planned. I like to give my clients at least a 2 week notice if not a 4 week. This isn't always possible. Sometimes you might end up with an opportunity at the last minute. No worries, just notify your clients at the earliest convenience. If you take off every 3 months for a week, you can already have this in your informed consent too!
  • Have a back up clinician in place. Talk to a trusted colleague and ask them if they can handle crisis while you are gone. I have a couple people in my professional will that I use. 
  • Turn on your vacation responder for your email. Let people know when you will return their email and give them the contact details of your coverage person.
  • Change your outbound message for voicemail with these same details.
  • Automate your social media and blog posts. I sit here with two weeks of tweets and facebook posts done as I prep for the holidays. It puts my mind at ease.
  • Set some boundaries for yourself. I take off my inbox on my phone so I don't get emails while I am out. This is where you get to really know yourself and what distracts you. Is it facebook? What if you didn't check facebook on vacation? Do what it takes to create space separate from your work. To be perfectly honest, I didn't plan my vacation for the holidays well enough in advance and thus I do have a coaching call while I am away. But, I accept that and learn from it and next year - I won't let that happen. 

The more you take vacations, the more you learn what is best for you in terms of length of your vacations and the process you have in your practice. 

Just know this, when we take vacations we are taking care of ourselves, which does also take care of our clients. If you burn out, you aren't going to be the stellar clinician that your clients deserve and that you deserve. 

Now for some fun, where are you going on vacation next? Share below and let's encourage each other to take time off!