SDN members see fewer ads and full resolution images. Join our non-profit community!

[Masters vs. Doctorate] Attracting Patients In Private Practice

Discussion in 'Psychology [Psy.D. / Ph.D.]' started by PsychMan2017, Nov 13, 2017.

  1. PsychMan2017


    Nov 8, 2017
    Hi everyone, thank you for your time and responses in advance.

    I'm deciding between programs and wonder what difference having a doctorate versus a masters makes in ability and ease of attracting/being referred new patients.(Assuming the practitioner is not working in a super specialized/niche field).

    Have you seen a significant difference in ability between the degrees?

    What do you think are the most important traits and factors in attracting patients?

    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
  2. SDN Members don't see this ad. About the ads.
  3. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2005
    Depends on geographic location, speciality, where educated, etc.

    An MA from Harvard probably flies better than an fspp psyd from California in Cambridge, MA. The psyd probably goes over better in rural Ohio. All things being equal, a doctoral degree is going to be generally preferable.
  4. Justanothergrad

    Justanothergrad Counseling Psychologist Psychologist Faculty 2+ Year Member

    Mar 2, 2013
    Generally speaking, the doctorate is likely to be more attractive. However, I'm not sure that the biggest impact in PP will be in how much you can attract clients for MA v Doctorate . The greater difference will likely fall into the type of billables you can do and how much is yours to keep/your capacity to expand your practice to supervise others and what that may look like. The job opportunities for a doctoral level provider are far more open, so you're going to be more flexible in what you can do and you're competing with a smaller group for jobs and such (there are just more MA leveled folks than doctoral, even in saturated markets).
  5. WisNeuro

    WisNeuro Board Certified Neuropsychologist Psychologist 7+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2009
    All things being equal, I am referring to doctoral level providers over masters level. That being said, reputation matters as well. If someone has great references from my colleagues (masters or doctoral) they get the referral. But, if I don't know much about someone, I am much more likely to trust doctoral level for most things.
    DrNightblood likes this.
  6. PSYDR

    PSYDR Psychologist 10+ Year Member

    Dec 18, 2005
    Things like where you practice also matter:

    Some areas are highly academically intertwined. In Cambridge, MA, an ivy masters is gonna be preferred over a middle of the road PhD. In rural Arkansas, the doctorate probably holds more cache. I know two psychiatrists who send their therapy referrals to their MA level relations who do crappy work.

    Some areas have a ton of providers (at least in one patient population). Who you know probably means more than where you went to school.

    Different areas have different levels and different means of economic support. Starting a private practice that takes insurance is different than starting a nonprofit mental health center using donations from a private charitable foundation.
  7. Therapist4Chnge

    Therapist4Chnge Neuropsych Ninja Faculty Faculty Moderator Emeritus 10+ Year Member

    Oct 6, 2006
    The Beach
    The majority of referrals for a typical clinician come from other providers and not cold calls from the street. Someone on the street probably doesn’t know the difference and likely will be swayed by a name. Clinicians can make or break your practice based on their referrals.

    I always look at backgrounds and consider reputation when making referrals. There are certain programs that will never result in a referral (e.g. Capella, U of Phoenix, Cal Southern, & all other online), while other programs i’ll be more likely to accept as solid. If the person has a legit boarding (bc there are some boards that will accept anyone with a pulse), then they jump to the top of my list.

    Being able to talk with clinicians who do what you want to do, preferably in the geographical area in which you want to practice would likely give you the best perspective.
  8. foreverbull

    foreverbull 2+ Year Member

    Sep 8, 2015
    When it comes to the clients themselves, reputation and word-of-mouth matter. If you have a built up a solid reputation, you'll pull in clients regardless of degree. In terms of referrals from other professionals, it depends on reputation as well, although doctoral practitioners tend to run in the same circles and refer doctoral practitioners more often. I can't speak to psychiatrist referrals or primary care physician referrals.

    Since many referrals come from your Psychology Today profile in private practice in the beginning, I would say how you present yourself to prospective clients and your website content both matter, because this will be the primary referral source until you've networked enough to build a reputation amongst professionals. Some people gave me feedback that they chose me due to convenience of location. Another chose me mainly because I had openings for adolescents and they told me that everyone else they contacted locally seemed to be full (clearly, my Ph.D. credentials didn't sway them to contact me first, since I'm the only doctoral level therapist who sees adolescents in my town). Thus, amongst professionals, the difference in education/credentials matters, but I don't think it's as important to the lay public in general, because not all of them understand the scope of the differences in training. Few who come to me understand what my doctoral degree and psychologist licensure entails.
  9. traumamama


    Nov 12, 2017
    I can say mentor went to Rutgers (PsyD) and told me no client has ever asked what school he attended. He makes a ton of money. I know people from my professional school (PsyD program) who are booked solid with 200 bucks an hour cash pay clients. I think if you are good and in the right area, you can do well with a doctorate or master's. Clients really seem to care more about convenience and kindness more than credentials. They have no idea what schools are high rated other than the really big name few.
  10. DynamicDidactic

    DynamicDidactic Ass of Prof 7+ Year Member

    Jul 27, 2010
    Anybody else get a little uncomfortable reading the term "attracting patients"
  11. erg923

    erg923 Regional Clinical Officer, Cenpatico National 10+ Year Member

    Apr 6, 2007
    Louisville, KY
    Not sure if this was meant as sarcasm, but even if the title was misread as "attractive patients" this is still something that is a real thing and should be openly discussed without fear of stigma or feeling weird about it. There are certainly patients that are smokin hot. This is a reality of being human. I actually think our current training, our ethics code, and just the nature for us to be professional in our roles prepares us quite well for this reality and how to deal with it appropriately and therapeutically. I would like this to be more bluntly dealt with with by training programs though. Nothing ever gets resolved if we just stick a rigid notion of "us and them."
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
  12. Sanman

    Sanman O.G. 10+ Year Member

    Sep 1, 2000
    Wait, are you suggesting that it's wrong to sleep with your patients? I thought it was okay as long as you offered all of them the same discounted fee structure. I consulted with Harvey Weinstein on my practice policy and everything. :cigar:;)
  13. My experience has been that a doctorate gives an edge at first glance, but as other posters already mentioned, word of mouth an reputation count for more. Also, retention is really the key. Getting the patient in the door isn’t nearly as important as keeping them coming back for a full course of treatment. I think that this important factor tends to be neglected in our training and even how we conceptualize the business. Of course, I am speaking of primarily treatment as opposed to primarily assessment type of practice. In my mind, outcomes are the biggest predictor of retention. In other words, if the patient and the referrers perceive that there is improvement, then my schedule will be full and I will have a waiting list. The providers with the long-term patients who never get better always seem to have lots of openings.

Share This Page