Ep #16: 3 Reasons Why You Feel Broke as a Clinician

Clinicians Creating Impact with Heather Branscombe | 3 Reasons Why You Feel Broke as a Clinician

I’ve noticed that there seem to be some common trends around how we, as clinicians, tend to think about money. My intention today is to start a clinician-focused conversation about money and begin normalizing those conversations.

We don’t often talk about the financial side of being a clinician, especially those of us that are working with children, or any population that has neurodiversities. However, with inflation and increasing interest rates, we have an opportunity as clinicians to think about money differently, especially as it relates to our careers.

Tune in this week to discover three reasons you may currently feel broke as a clinician. If any of these things resonate with you, I’m showing you how to decide what you want to do about it so you can start having the experience of money that you actually want.


If you love what I’m sharing in this podcast and you want more, you can download my free Getting it All Done at Work process.


What You’ll Learn:

  • Why, as clinicians, we need to normalize conversations about money.

  • 3 reasons you may feel broke as a clinician.

  • How financial pressures can show up in your work as a clinician.

  • My own experience of struggling with my mindset around money.

  • How to address the thoughts that are making you feel broke as a clinician.




Full Episode Transcript:

Episode 16, 3 Reasons Why You Feel Broke as a Clinician.

Welcome to Clinicians Creating Impact, a show for physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech-language pathologists looking to take the next step in their careers and make a real difference in the lives of their clients. If you’re looking to improve the lives of neurodiverse children and families with neurological-based challenges, grow your own business, or simply show up to help clients, this is the show for you. 

I’m Heather Branscombe, Therapist, Certified Coach, Clinical Director, and Owner of Abilities Neurological Rehabilitation. I have over 25 years of experience in both the public and private sectors, and I’m here to help you become the therapist you want to be, supporting people to work towards their dreams and live their best lives. You ready to dive in? Let’s go.

Hello there, friend. This past weekend was really, really fun for me. I was actually doing the final bookings in preparation for what I like to consider, maybe a once in a lifetime, maybe not, hopefully not. But it seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to go on this amazing vacation next month. 

Now, unlike my normal vacations, this vacation is special because we are doing this vacation and planning this vacation in order to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. And when I say we, I mean my husband and myself. So what we’re doing is we’re planning two and a half weeks and going to Europe and seeing several countries. And it is literally my dream come true. And it is a dream vacation to be able to celebrate in this way with someone who I consider my very best friend. 

I’m also as, if you have been listening to the podcast, you might have been hearing or if you’re seeing on Instagram the home reno saga that I was on, we’ve really almost come to the end of the home renovation. It really is essentially complete at this point. And what was really fun was this weekend, my daughter who no longer lives at home, asked me, “When you were younger, did you ever think that you would live in a house as nice as this, when you were growing up?” 

I laughed at her and I can’t even really remember how I answered that. But really both of those events have really caused me now to pause. It’s caused me to pause because it’s really a moment for me to really reflect back and really understand how grateful I am today for so many things, but especially for what my clinical career has provided me in so many areas. But I also want to offer that my clinical career has offered me so much financially. 

And we don’t often talk about this as clinicians, especially those of us that are working with children or with any kind of population that has neurodiversities. And yet at the same time, in this time where we have inflation, there’s interest rates for mortgages and loans have gone up. Or maybe car loans have gone up a lot. It really has created an opportunity, I think, for us as clinicians to think about money, and our relationship to money as it relates to your career. 

Now, I want to say at the beginning, I get that the title “three reasons you may feel broke,” is dramatic. I get that. But what I’ve noticed as a clinician and as a clinic owner, is there seems to be some common trends of how we as clinicians tend to think about money. And so my intention today is to start a conversation about that and really normalize the opportunity to have this conversation about money, especially as it relates to us in our career. 

So today I want to offer three reasons that you may feel broke as a clinician, and some of them may or may not resonate with you. If they do, then you can decide what you want to do about it. So let’s get into them, shall we? 

Reason number one you may feel broke. The first reason you may feel broke as a clinician is that you’re spending more than you currently make. Now, I want to say this, I say this from a feeling of love and I want to acknowledge that I’ve been there. This is not me looking down and saying that. This is me looking at you and saying this to you from a place of knowing and I’ve done that myself. 

We buy things because we want them and we expect them to help us to feel a certain way. And, obviously, our whole system of capitalism is based on offering many choices to buy, and then being really good at compelling you as to why buying something is a really great idea. I mean, people go through whole degrees, right, like marketing and sales degrees. There’s whole departments and people do their life work about the psychology of selling and buying. 

This is where I’ve learned so much from that best friend that I referred to at the beginning of this podcast who, again, happens to be my husband. And he’s currently right now helping our newly adult children on how to really navigate the world of money management. 

Do you remember being that freshly new adult, maybe new in your career, maybe you’re there now, and really trying to understand how to navigate this world of money management? One of the things that he says that I really love, and especially to our adult children, is you don’t have an income problem, you have a spending problem. 

And now, remember, he is saying – None of my children work as therapists right now. They all are working, some of them are minimum wage jobs to tradesperson jobs. So he says that no matter what the income is, he’s telling them, you don’t have an income problem, you have a spending problem. 

Over the years, what I’ve noticed is that understanding the thoughts and the feelings of why we spend what we spend can be so helpful. And I’ve noticed that clinicians that spend more modestly don’t feel that same pressure at work that those that spend more. And again, this is not me moralizing spending money or not spending money. But I just noticed the effect that that can have. 

Financial pressure can show up at work as a need to do more and to work more. So when we have these kinds of thoughts, we think that making more money will solve an overspending problem. And I mean, honestly, it does for the moment. I like to think of this problem though more like us as a goldfish. 

Now, goldfish tend to grow to the size of their bowl. And we tend to spend, as normal humans we tend to spend based on our income. So as our income increases, so does our spending. And if you need a little further evidence of that, if you are a new clinician or maybe a more experienced clinician, you can think about how much you spent as a student versus what you spend now. 

Now, again, I’m not saying that you need to live as a monk. I certainly spend a lot differently now than I did as a student, and my income is different. And remember, I make large unnecessary purchases as well. I’m not saying that you need to make those purchases or you don’t need to make those purchases, you just want to like your reasons for the purchases that you’re making. So if you feel broke as a clinician, one of the first things you can do is to look at your spending and decide if you like your reasons for your purchases. 

Now we can go to Reason number two. Reason number two you may feel broke as a clinician, is that you don’t think you deserve to make more. When I say those words, I wonder what comes up for you. I wonder if they feel as true as they used to feel for me, because I can tell you there was a time in my life that that felt very true. This was my thought process at the time and I just want to share it for the purpose to see if that lands for you or not. 

So I definitely remember a time in my life that I was working as a clinician at a child development center. I loved that position in terms of the people that I was working with. And I was helping so many families that really had a lot of needs. Many of the families that I was working with were struggling to get by, including struggling financially. 

And so as I was working with those kinds of families my brain would offer, “Who am I to make money from people who have so little?” Notice when I say that, like I think at the time I thought that that thought sounded noble, even altruistic. And I want to tell you something, that kind of thought is a lie. 

And the reason that I say it’s a lie is the lie is if I make more money, then somehow they would have less money. Which ultimately was extra untrue because at the time the people that I was serving as a clinician in the child development center weren’t paying for the service out of pocket at all. The service that I was providing was being funded and being paid for directly by the government. 

They had no say of how much service I had or didn’t do, all of that was provided by the government. Now, we do all know that government funds come primarily through taxes. But it’s not like it was the taxes of the families individually, that they would go up proportionally to me making more money. But my brain would make this quick, but very erroneous connection between the two. 

And I know that many of my colleagues at the time felt that as well because when I started working in private practice, I definitely heard comments. Comments that if I’m being honest, really did hurt. Comments that said something like I was in private practice for the money. 

And, in fact, at the beginning of my private practice career, and at the beginning of building Abilities, if you wanted to hurt me which, again, I know that my former colleagues didn’t actually intend on doing that. But the truth was accusing me of going into private practice for money really did hurt my feelings. 

Now, I know now that that’s because of my thoughts about money. But I definitely noticed that it hurt my feelings. One, that wasn’t true that I went into private practice for the money. I went into it for many other reasons, but that really wasn’t the reason. And two, if I was actually to look at it, I actually made a much less money for many years after starting my clinic. 

And, again, this is not a woe is me moment. I’m not trying to say this to be like, “Oh, poor Heather,” and to justify that. But I do want to say I purposely took no salary for the first two years of building my clinic. And it was only after I started to decide that I did deserve to get paid for the value that I was creating, that the income started to increase for me in private practice. 

So I just want to offer you that you making less money as a clinician does not help your clients any more. There is zero correlation. This is not a zero sum game. So one question that I like to ask myself, even now when my brain offers me some kind of thought like, “I don’t deserve to make more money,” which, in all honesty still happens. 

I like to ask something like this, how could it be true that I could create an amazing impact for myself, including the impact of my own income, and create an amazing impact for my clients? That, I think, is a problem worth solving. And I do believe that that’s a problem we’re solving for you as well. 

The last reason that I have of potentially why you may feel broke as a clinician is you don’t know how to make more money without making some kind of sacrifice. So, so much of what we do as a service-based provider, as clinicians, really is an exchange between time and money. 

So when we try to solve for that question that I asked earlier, how can I create a bigger impact for myself and create a bigger impact for our clients, our brains will first offer something. Something like, one, I could work more hours or two, I could make more per hour. Now, if I was an employee, this could be as simple as going to your employer or your clinic owner to ask for a higher fee split or an hourly wage, and or to increase the hours that you work. 

And these things will work, and I’m not saying not to do it. But just notice that that’s not sustainable as you’re trying to increase your income in the long-term. Meaning there’s only so many hours in the day you’re going to want to work long-term. And there’s only so much that you can ask for, either as a contractor or as an employee, for the long-term sustainability of a clinic you’re working for. 

So for example, you want to make 90% or 95%. That sounds amazing for you in the short-term. But assuming that your clinic is giving you some kind of support that you are using that money to do, they’re not going to be able to support you long-term. It goes back to this zero sum game that you need to win and you need to get more, meaning that your clinic or your employer, whoever you’re working for needs to get less. That’s not the zero sum game that we’re looking for. 

Even if you are working as a total solopreneur, you’re doing all the billing, you’re doing all the collecting yourself, I just want to offer to the extent that you choose not to reinvest in your business to get help, or to gain more skills, whatever, to the extent that you are taking all that income as a personal income for yourself, it means that you’re going to have increasingly diminishing returns over time. 

So this is the ultimate problem to solve. And I want to offer you, this is where solving this kind of problem offers the greatest possibility for wealth. And I’m not here to say that I know completely where the answer is, but as I have figured that out for myself and for the people that I work for, again, it’s not a zero sum game. I can create a win. A win for myself, a win for the people that work with me and a win for the clients. 

Sometimes we’re going to make mistakes, but it is in solving the problem that the rewards ultimately come. So the way you solve that as a clinician, it’s going to be individual for you, there’s no magic bullet. But I want to offer a final couple pieces of advice that I think can help you. 

First of all, you really want to decide what success in answering that question would look like to you, being as specific as possible. How many hours do you want to work a week? How much money do you actually truly want to choose to make? Those kinds of things are going to be really important. 

Secondly, you want to ask for help to solve this problem. This is an important problem that you want to solve. You do not need to solve this on your own. You can look for help from your team, from coaches, from mentors, from other colleagues. Look for the resources that you already have, as well as your own brain to help you to solve this problem. 

And finally, you really do want to trust your inner wisdom to learn what works best for you and then to take action from there. If you want it to be, this is an amazing opportunity for you to take your career exactly where you want it to be, and then beyond. 

So when I think about the question that my daughter asked me, did I think I would be where I actually am when I was growing up? I can truly say the answer is no, including financially, for all the best reasons. And knowing that, I can’t wait to see what the next part of my career will look like and the impact that I will be able to have for myself and the people I choose to serve. 

And I want that for you as well. So take a look at the three reasons you may feel broke and see what resonates with you. Number one, you’re spending more than you currently make. Number two, you don’t think you deserve to make more. And number three, you don’t know how to make more without some sort of sacrifice. 

Decide which ones apply to you and then decide what you want to do about it. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. I truly can’t wait to see the impact that you create with this. See you soon. 

If you enjoyed today’s show and don’t want to worry about missing an episode, you can follow the show wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you haven’t already, I would really appreciate it if you could leave a rating and review to let me know what you think and to help others find Clinicians Creating Impact

It doesn’t have to be a five star rating, although I sure hope you love the show. I’d really want your honest feedback so I can create an awesome podcast that provides tons of value. To learn more about me and the work that I do, visit my website at www.abilitiesrehabilitation.com/clinicianscorner to download your free getting it all done at work process and to see what I’m up to. Thanks so much.

Thanks for joining me this week on the Clinicians Creating Impact podcast. Want to learn more about the work I’m doing with Abilities Rehabilitation? Head on over to abilitiesrehabilitation.com. See you next week.

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