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[00:00:00] Hello, everyone. Welcome to The Testing Psychologist podcast, the podcast where we talk all about the business and practice of psychological and neuropsychological assessment. I’m your host, Dr. Jeremy Sharp, licensed psychologist, group practice owner, and private practice coach.

All right, y’all, welcome back to another business episode. Today’s episode is all about trying to figure out when you might need a virtual assistant or any assistant in your practice. If you’ve been listening to the podcast for any amount of time, you know that I’m a big fan of virtual assistance and assistance in general. And I’m going to be talking today, not so much about the nuts and bolts of hiring or delegating to a virtual assistant, but just helping you walk through the process of deciding whether you need a virtual assistant or not.

The spoiler is that I think you need a virtual assistant like yesterday, but I’m going to help you think through that process and figure out when might be the right time to [00:01:00] hire a virtual assistant in your practice.

Before we get to the episode, I want to let y’all know about an event coming up that I will be speaking at. I am speaking at a webinar co-sponsored by Build Great Teams and the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta. The webinar is called Psychological Assessment of Children During COVID-19. And we’re going to be talking all about the nuts and bolts of remote assessment.

I am co-presenting with Dr. Ryan Matchullis, who is a registered psychologist in Calgary, Alberta. He specializes in working with kids with developmental concerns and really complex developmental issues. He will be going into significant detail about how to conduct remote assessment with kids who might be a little more challenging. So, if that’s interesting to you, [00:02:00] check it out. The link will be in the show notes.

You will have the opportunity to get free CE credits from this event. And we’d love to see you there. So again, link in the show notes. Check that out if you’re interested.

All right, on to our episode on when you might need a virtual assistant.

Okay, y’all, I am back talking all about when you might want to start thinking about a virtual assistant. So the short answer is basically yesterday is when you need to start thinking about a virtual assistant. I’m going to keep this short and sweet and explain exactly why.

A lot of us get wrapped [00:03:00] up in the idea that we have to do everything when we get started in practice and as we continue in our practice, we kind of have hero syndrome in a way, thinking that we are the only ones that can do certain tasks, as well as they, need to be done. A few of these things might be: answering the phone is a big one, scheduling people, selling your evaluation services, managing finances or bills, scoring testing materials.

I could go on and on, but there are any number of tasks in our practices that we hold onto for way too long. And for the vast majority of practice owners that I talked to, that’s because there is a fear involved. I think it’s always fear underneath that if we let go of things, if we let go of that control that we think we have over all of these tasks [00:04:00] by doing them ourselves, then we’re going to somehow sacrifice the quality of our work or our reputation, and it’s going to cause our practices to tank.

I’ve been there. Let me say that right off the bat. I continue to struggle with letting things go. It is really, really hard. And I’ve said many times in coaching sessions how we are basically rewarded for 18 plus years of schooling for many of us to believe that we work hard, we do everything ourselves, we are basically as perfect as we can be in any sort of achievement or performance-based task. And we get rewarded for that with good grades and recognition and so forth or a Ph.D. And so, when we get into practice, then it is really, [00:05:00] really challenging to let that go and say to ourselves, maybe I don’t have to do this just because I can. I don’t have to be an overachiever and take care of absolutely everything in this practice.

So, I just want to acknowledge that, yes, it’s easy to say, okay, you need a virtual assistant yesterday. And I know that for many of us, there is certainly an emotional process to work through here, to think about letting go and turning this very important part of your life and your livelihood over to someone else. So, I totally get that. And I want to honor that and know that it’s a tough process.

What I’m going to try to do is just present a little bit of information to get you thinking about a VA if you’re not already. And if you already have a VA, maybe thinking about what else [00:06:00] you could delegate to that person.

So, the short answer again, when do you need a virtual assistant? I would argue that you need a virtual assistant from the moment you open your practice. And here’s why. Whether you are private pay or insurance-based, particularly if you’re insurance-based, there is a very clear, defined set of tasks that you get paid for. In testing, this means you get paid to do intake appointments, testing appointments which involve test administration and scoring, you get paid to do a feedback session, you get paid to write the report, and you get paid to do collateral interviews and record reviews. So, that’s a pretty well-defined set of things that you literally get paid to do.

So, if you just start with that basis, then any other tasks that [00:07:00] you’re doing in your practice, you are not getting paid to do, right? 

I know you can make an argument. Well, if I answer the phones, then that’s lead acquisition and that’s going to bring in money for the practice. Yeah, that is absolutely true. But you aren’t literally getting paid to do that job. So, I want you to start thinking about really any task outside of your clinical work or, of course, if you’re doing workshops or getting paid to speak and things like that, that’s a different story. But generally speaking, any other tasks that you are doing in your practice you are not getting paid to do.

And so by virtue of that fact, you are essentially paying yourself or using the time that it would take, using up your own time at a rate equivalent to whatever your average [00:08:00] reimbursement rate is. That might be $100 an hour. That might be $150 an hour. That might be $300 an hour depending on your practice and where you’re at and how you structure things.

So just think about that for a second. If you’re answering the phones, if you are making copies, if you are sending out questionnaires for your evaluations over email, you are in essence paying yourself whatever your hourly rate is to do that task because it’s taking away from other time that you could be spending where you actually get paid to do it.

And let me tell you all, we are among some of the highest paid professionals in the world of working professionals. There, aren’t a ton of people who bill $100, $150, $200, $300 an hour. [00:09:00] I can’t think of any administrative or clerical task that you would pay someone that much money to do. The only thing that really approaches that would be something like a web design or, of course, legal services and things like that. But administrative tasks, answering the phone, clerical tasks, copies, et cetera, there is no way that you would pay someone that much to do those tasks. So you are in essence, the most overpaid administrative assistant anytime you choose to take those tasks on.

All right. Obviously, I think you’re going to notice it I recorded the first part of this episode in one location and now I have moved to another location. Sound engineering is magical, but sometimes not that magical. So here we are.

So, if you are overpaying yourself for administrative services, [00:10:00] that is a great reason to think about a VA. Other reasons that are equally important and also equally likely to happen when you are either starting out in your practice or have even been in your practice for a bit, or just feeling overwhelmed with your responsibilities. So again, operating from this idea that you should really be doing clinical work and that is about it, the chances are your schedule is filled up with other activities that are less crucial for you to be doing and yet nonetheless, fill the time and contribute to you feeling overwhelmed.

When I’ve pulled The Testing Psychologist Community and my email list, it’s really clear that people are just desperate for tools to make report writing more efficient and to manage their time better. There are plenty of tools out there [00:11:00] that can help you, but when we get right down to it, I like to work with folks to figure out why you don’t have enough time to do the thing that is most important for you to be doing in the first place, which is the clinical work and writing the reports that showcase our specialized knowledge that goes above and beyond other mental health professionals. So, when you feel overwhelmed with your responsibilities, that’s a great signal that you need to be thinking about an assistant.

Now, one other component to be thinking about is, if there are certain parts of your day or parts of your practice that you feel bored with. So if you feel bored, the likelihood is that you are not going to be motivated to do those tasks. And those tasks are likely going to fall by the wayside. A correlate of feeling bored is feeling avoidant [00:12:00] or feeling scared or feeling nervous about certain things.

For a lot of us, this might be something like collecting fees or calling insurance, or sending out statements or doing financial components with our clients. That’s something that I fell prey to early on in my practices. I didn’t like talking to people about money and trying to request payment. So, that got ignored for a little while, and it really came back to bite me. So, if you notice any of those feelings going on, those are also good signals that you need to start thinking about how to delegate some of your tasks.

Otherwise, I don’t think there’s a right time in your practice to think about a VA. I joked at the beginning that the time was yesterday, but there’s really some truth to that, to be honest. I would be thinking [00:13:00] about an assistant from the moment you think about opening your practice because from the beginning, there are going to be tasks that you don’t want to do and should not be doing. I love the idea of bootstrapping and did it for a long time. And when we just get down to the return on investment, a VA is well worth it.

All right, so quick and dirty episode just on when to be considering a VA. Like I said, this is the first of a little two-part mini-series. In the next business episode coming next Thursday, we’ll be talking more in-depth about what kind of tasks would be appropriate for a VA in a testing practice.

So, if you’re not subscribed to the podcast, jump into whatever podcast listener you use and hit the subscribe button or the follow button and Spotify so that you can [00:14:00] stay tuned and not miss any of these upcoming episodes.

And if you’re an advanced practice owner who maybe has an assistant or is thinking about an assistant or thinking about hiring other folks in your practice, the Advanced Practice Mastermind is going to start in September. This will be the third cohort of the Advanced Practice Mastermind. This is a group coaching experience where I provide facilitation and guidance for a group of six psychologists, all in the advanced stages of practice.

It’s been really cool in the past to see people connect and level up their practices over the course of our group. So, if that sounds interesting to you, you can go to thetestingpsychologist.com/advanced, get more information and apply to be in the group.

All right, y’all, like I mentioned at the beginning as well, if you are looking for a CE opportunity and want to hear some fantastic information [00:15:00] on remote assessment, really getting into the nuts and bolts in how to do it, particularly with really challenging kids, check out the webinar I’m going to be co-presenting on. This will be in August with the Psychologist’ Association of Alberta and Build Great Teams. The link is in the show notes. I hope to see you there.

All right, y’all, take care. I’ll be back on Monday with our next clinical episode.

The information contained in this podcast and on The Testing Psychologists website is intended for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this podcast or on the website is intended to be a substitute for [00:16:00] professional, psychological, psychiatric, or medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Please note that no doctor-patient relationship is formed here, and similarly, no supervisory or consultative relationship is formed between the host or guests of this podcast and listeners of this podcast. If you need the qualified advice of any mental health practitioner or medical provider, please seek one in your area.

Similarly, if you need supervision on clinical matters, please find a supervisor with expertise that fits your needs.

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