Nancy Ohlmann '88


Nancy Ohlmann '88Author Bio Nancy Ohlmann has been a speech pathologist since 1988, serving infants and children providing innovative therapy techniques, and helping to educate other therapists and professionals through specialized courses. Nancy has Level 1 DIR Training in Floortime, a method of treatment developed by Dr. Stanley Greenspan. She has also been Hanen™ trained through the course, "It Takes Two To Talk". These additional methods provide mentoring from experienced therapists, collaboration with colleagues in other disciplines, and give a whole child focus as the framework for communication treatment. Nancy has extensive experience in feeding, oral motor, and neuro-developmental processes. She utilizes motor and sensory techniques to positively influence and support language, speech, feeding, emotional, and social communication skills. Nancy received her undergraduate degree from Ball State University in 1982; Special Education/Hearing Impaired and is a 1988 graduate of the University of Colorado, Communication Disorders program. Go to "Read More" below to see her article about the creation and maintenance of her successful private practice as inspired by her father.


PRIVATE PRACTICE: THE ADVENTURE OF A LIFETIME By Nancy Ohlmann Growing up with a self-employed father I often wondered if he had second and third homes at the bank and the post office. At the very least I thought these places must serve lavish hors d’oeuvres or tempting gourmet desserts. As a business man who’s sponsored little league baseball teams and provided assistance for civic activities, he was an integral part of our community. Therefore, when I decided to move in the direction of becoming a self-employed private practitioner I realized that subtly I had been training since infancy to run my own business. Lesson number one: Have a plan, stick to it, and build on it. Private practice is a business. From my Dad’s perspective this meant setting up the company with the help of an attorney, an accountant, and family approval. Aspects of the business that should be stuck to include such things as deciding if you will structure your company as an LLC, Sub-S, PSC, etc. You will have to decide when and how much you will pay yourself and set up a tax payment schedule. If you plan to sell equipment you will have to arrange for a tax sales certificate. If you have employees then Workman’s compensation must be considered. As a therapist malpractice insurance is also a necessity. Contractual agreements with state agencies, other companies, and other professionals are often present and require attention. If you provide home-based services then your car may be an office. This brings about entirely new considerations in reference to the expenses of your office on wheels. Of course in the speech therapy business there are also issues relating to ASHA requirements and state licensure boards. All of these issues should be part of the business plan. As the “boss” you can build on your plan but as I have learned through observation of my dad and my own experience, having a solid foundation is imperative to the growth of your skills and your business. Lesson number two: Enjoy the benefits but expect the drawbacks. I want to treat children and help families. I enjoy hard work but want to have a personal life. I relish working with great colleagues who are supportive, caring, and bring me Starbucks. It is a nothing short of fun to interact with my peers, share ideas, and learn together. I do not want to drown in paperwork, burnout from over-work, or deal with the unexpected curve-balls life and a private practice can sometimes throw. But as is true with all good things in life problems will exist. I wish I could say we had the Flatirons where I now work but my Kentucky office sits very near the mountains. Though actual mountains surround, the large hills I’m thinking of come in the form of skyrocketing referrals, waiting lists, packing multiple clients and colleagues in already tight clinical space, and the ever present costs of the tools of the trade. The expense of programs such as “Boardmaker”, continuing education courses, fax machines, laminators, even Velcro is considerable. The fact that walking out of a computer store with a new laptop means that with every step you take to the car the value of your purchase diminishes and the technology becomes obsolete. These mountains can become daunting even to the most fearless business owner. Then of course there is the cost of the relaxing tea that I personally need when I slow down enough to remember that I do in fact have fear! Thankfully I had a wonderful teacher who taught me to plan for the good and the challenging. Thanks Dad! Lesson 3: Help others as they have helped you, another “Dadism” When I ventured into this practice, two therapists, one occupational and one physical were very supportive at answering business related questions. We now share clinic space together and even more “talk time” takes place. Speaking from a practical standpoint, this venture has not been easy, but it has been worth it. There are clinical and family supportive endeavors that I have been able to complete in this kind of practice that I can’t picture happening in a different setting. When asked, I have given other therapists information about private practice, sharing billing strategies, tax woes, and the joys that this type of employment often brings. I believe that being self-employed has allowed me to see children for long periods of time, seek additional continuing education, and grow both personally and professionally.