Community Story: Jasmin Richter, Wild at Heart OT

A journey into OT private practice


Meet Jasmin an OT who after 12 years of working in her small community serving up to 42 different schools, left her public job to start a full-time private practice. Jasmin is also a runner, wife, and mother to 2 littles.

YouTube player

Tell us a bit about you and when you first started thinking about making the transition into private practice?

I graduated from OT school 12 years ago. After school, I got a job working close to where I grew up. I got married, had some babies and then all of a sudden my ten year plan had run out and I started thinking “what’s next?”

I wasn’t sure that this school job was filling my cup or serving my purposes anymore. And as you learn and grow as a professional and as a person. The profession itself grows and changes and the way that, for my realm, the children are served. It just didn’t quite feel like a match anymore. 

Working in OT private practice has been an idea in the back of my brain since becoming an OT. My final school fieldwork placement was in an OT private practice in Saskatchewan. I really loved it and I liked the clinic mindset, people come to you and they see you and you provide a service and have repeat clients. 


What were some of your fears and concerns about going into private practice? 

Well, the list could be long, but if I was to think about the top concerns, the one that kept coming up over and over again, “how am I going to get paid?”

I was making good income and thinking about stopping it and knowing that there could be a period of time where I might not make any money while I’m trying to develop a private practice.That was scary. 

I struggled quite a bit with thinking, “Is this a selfish decision? Can I do it? How long will this transition period take?” And, there was no answer. There is no answer for those questions until you just start doing it.


You did a full dive into private practice, you skipped the side hustle, why was that?

The conflict of interest was too great and unavoidable. In my rural location I don’t have enough clients to not serve children that I would have already been seeing in the school division. I thought, “maybe I can try and transition into a health region job in a different population and I could work a half-time there and then half time OT private practice”.

That sounded like two brand-new things, and I wouldn’t have enough brain space for both. It came down to, “It’s either stay where you are or you have to move on”.


What were the resources and the supports that helped you to take the leap? 

Carlyn Neek and her program Activate Vitality. All of her emails were, check marks on the thought process happening for me at the time. “I’m stuck. I can’t move out of this. I don’t know how to take the next step. I just need someone who understands my OT brain and where I’m at.” 

I joined her program, which helped me to get my brain unstuck and moving forward, to take small steps. That was extremely helpful for me. As well as gaining a social network of people that were so aligned. And even though we’ve never met in person and we’re millions of miles apart from one another, you feel that camaraderie and that support from people which was sort of irreplaceable and gave me the courage to take another baby step.


What did your transition look like from your public job into private practice? What things did you set up first? 

I asked my employer for a personal leave, which felt like a nice big security blanket over me. It’s my backup plan if my private practice idea fails. I spent one extra month, wrapping up things in my school division job, and starting that transition. 

First, I did the little jobs that felt exciting, things that brought me joy. Thinking about a business name. Then I made a Facebook page, but it was private and I didn’t share with anybody and I then I’d share it with one person and ask, “What do you think?”

Registered my business name. Made a public post on Facebook about my new business. 


What was one of your biggest “fail learns” when getting started?

I originally had a mindset or vision that, “I am not a legitimate business until I have a clinic.” Four walls, a door, a sign on the front, a website, and all of these very high-level professional things. I felt like I had to have all of those things in place before I could ever tell anybody that I was ready to work with them as a client.

I was looking at a commercial-type space and was very excited, I signed the lease and then I looked at it, and it needed a lot of work. It was a brand new building, but it was not completed. And all of a sudden my heart dropped and I’m like, “What did I do? I can’t afford it, I can’t build the space. This is insane. What did I do?” 

I had to backtrack and explain to that person that – I really didn’t think about this and that, “Could I please get out of the lease because this is never going to happen.”

That experience gave me permission to realize that, “Oh no, you can actually do this, out the back of your car and inside of other people’s homes.” And that is how I started, offering mobile services, which are needed in my rural setting. 

So I had a car and some time, and I just got in my car with some things and headed to people’s homes. My first few sessions in people’s homes I was nervous as heck. “I’m like, why did I, I don’t know what I’m doing. This is scary.” But I gave yourself permission for it to feel awkward and weird. Then once I started playing with the kids my OT assessment brain kicked in and it was so good.


What advice would you give to someone that is starting their journey into private practice?

Business plan: You don’t need a robust business plan or to narrow your niche too much at the beginning.  I didn’t write a business plan. I kind of had these vague ideas, I would write down on my sticky notes when I would have a brainwave. Really, I had no idea where my business could go. Maybe that was a blessing in disguise because it didn’t make me feel like I had to stick to a script.

Niching down: Once you get over that initial hump of starting you can feel into it. You can feel where you want to go. You can then start to niche down. Like you, when I started my private practice, I took any referral that would come to me, and it was really good because it helped me go, “Oh, I really like working with that client.”

The magic is in the doing. And I think that’s funny because that’s what we do everyday as professionals, “The magic is in the doing, so just do it.”

Referral sources: Create relationships for referrals. In my previous employment, I made a ton of connections and it was unintentionally strategic. Also the city I live  in is about 5,000 people large. The doctor is down the street from me and I see her on the weekend, so I can talk to her like a friend and ask for referrals.  I got a number of referrals from her, like right away. People were calling me, “Oh, Dr. So-and-so told me that you’re maybe gonna able to be able to help my kid with this.” 

Marketing: At the very beginning, I created a Facebook post that was sort of, “Hey, I’m in business and if you need an OT, give me a call or send me an email.” Boom. And I dropped it into a few of those garage sales sites or groups in different communities around mine. And that in and of itself brought in some people who were so happy to hear of my services. Don’t worry about a whole marketing campaign. Leverage social media and your existing connections.


Tell us how you first heard about Therabyte?

I remember seeing a CAOT blast, advertising some thing about Therabyte and I thought, “Oh, that’s a cool name. And that’s really cheeky. I kind of like that really cute name.” I thought, I should look into that one day. 


What made Therabyte stand out from other EMRs?

Knowing that you are also an OT, you know all of the information that I would need to know from a Canadian perspective in terms of safety and security for personal health information.  I felt confident that if you were able to run your business and you know that you’re doing all the things that need to happen from a Canadian perspective, then I feel good about that too.


At what point in your journey did you start using Therabyte?

Before I even pressed “Go” on private practice I signed up for Therabyte.  I knew that for me, I needed a system that was going to keep me organized. I came from a system that had too many systems – I did a paper thing, an electronic thing, and forms on so many different websites. I found it so frustrating. 

For documentation purposes, I struggled thinking about, “If I don’t have a clinic I’m going to have to store client files at my house.” “Do I feel safe doing that?” What do I need to be able to do that? To keep documentation safe and secure and following all of the rules about, personal information. And all of that felt like a huge mountain. So if I could put my faith into an electronic medical record that would securely and safely keep all of that for me, why wouldn’t I do that?


Do you feel that having Therabyte set up gave you confidence in opening up your business?

Yes! It helped me feel organized right from the beginning. And I felt so good about that. Having the online intake process was something that I wanted. Once the intake was ready and I could do everything online and right from the beginning, that just felt like “I have it all in one place. I don’t have to go and scan and save and blah, blah, blah, all these time-sucking jobs” – that is not where I find my joy.

I got a bit stuck on the idea of needing a website. But at the beginning, I didn’t want to fork out a ton of money for a professional website. I talked to a few different people about their experience with their website and they’re like, “Nah, I can take it or leave it.” Most of my people find me on social media or word of mouth. So the fact that I could have a “landing page” with Therabyte where I could still explain about my business and send my prospective clients, to read about who I am, and what my business has to offer, their children was golden. It was just a nice little organized spot to put my ideas. 

Having Therabyte from the start was very organizing for me. I felt like I had a system and that was something that I heard about in every podcast, every book, and every single piece of business information out there was about “systems”. And I’m like, “What are the systems? I don’t even know.” I have no idea how to build a system. So for me having a one stop shop for all of my things, like documentation scheduling, online booking, invoicing, all of these things,  – it was, ‘Well perfect, Therabyte can do all of that for me.”


Which Therabyte feature is your favorite to use?

I like many of them, particularly the easy invoicing.  But honestly, it was a tiny update that you guys did, and it has changed everything for me. 

When I go to my billing, and I do an invoice, and I can select that they’ve paid and the little thing comes up paid, and right in the same window, I can press email, send the invoice directly to the client. “It’s saved me so much time.” It’s awesome.



Ways to connect with Jasmin

More from Therabyte…

Hello OTGP peeps! Claim your 30 days FREE here!


Pin It on Pinterest

Share This