Although increasing numbers of occupational therapists are choosing to work in private practice, little data exist describing this sector of the profession. In the present study, experienced occupational therapists were asked about their moves into private practice, including (a) their motivation, (b) their preparation, and (c) their perceptions of the move’s risks and benefits before and after the move.
A survey was sent to a national random sample of 105 occupational therapists, 74 of whom responded. According to the survey, autonomy was the most important motivating factor for occupational therapists moving into private practice. However, once they were in private practice, the occupational therapists noted that increased income was a major benefit. These occupational therapists had planned for the risks of reimbursement, referral sources, and overhead but had not anticipated problems with staffing shortages.
Incomes increased for occupational therapists who moved into private practice. The survey compared the incomes of occupational therapists before and after they entered private practice. It also compared their income and educational levels. Other comparisons included income and work experience, income and work role, and income and geographic location.
Autonomy and financial considerations appear to be the overriding issues for occupational therapists choosing careers in private practice. Almost unanimously, the survey respondents said that private practice was a good career choice.