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Decide on your location and office space. Right off the bat, you will want to review the obvious structural elements and determine the usefulness of each area, as well as code compliance and functionality of elements. You do not want broken tiles, ceiling leaks and other problematic issues. Find the right space. If you choose the home office environment, make sure it is clearly separated from the usual home foot traffic and family areas.
Purchase the office furniture and all equipment and supplies and truck them in or have them delivered. If you will have ten exam rooms, you will need to furnish each of them --- virtually identical, except perhaps for art work on the walls. Get all the major gear and equipment lined up for move-in day and hire extra help as needed.
Create your entry and welcoming area, with a front desk for check-in. If you will be hiring an experienced receptionist, she might have some good input on setting up this aea. Where to put filing cabinets, office furniture, computers and so forth is determined by the amount of space you have to work with. Make sure the walking area and hallways are uncluttered and evenly distributed, so that pregnant women do not trip. Loose carpeting can contribute to accidents, so be certain that the carpets are fitted properly.
Place all the major furnishings throughout the suboffices, exam rooms, laboratory area and rest room. These are the foundational pieces. Usually in the exam room, the exam bed is central. Leave plenty of space to move around it when doing routine examinations. Try not to overfurnish or to have such limited space that people feel cramped when visiting, or to have to leave the exam stool blocking a doorway. Resolve the practical elements early on, so you do not waste a client's time when she is in your office.
Add the subitems, including the laboratory equipment, exam tools and sterilizing equipment. Each exam room should have the usual gynecological equipment (e.g., speculums, blood pressure cuffs, stethoscopes, fetoscope, fundus measuring tape) within reach. These can be tucked into drawers, cabinets or chests but they need to be readily accessible. Laboratory testing supplies may either be within the laboratory area or in the exam room(s).
Check your supplies area for frequently used items, such as printing paper, blank records, pens and other office supplies, extra toilet paper stock, extra laboratory supplies (especially if the laboratory is small), cleaning supplies and bedding or paper rolls for beds. If you have a large supply cabinet, set it up with a sensible arrangement for easy access and organized by need.
Situate the lamps, other lighting, and exam lamps in each room. Your exam lighting is important, so consider keeping a few spare bulbs in each exam room.
Add the decorative items last --- for example, photographs of mothers and babies, wildlife, serene landscapes. If you anticipate a very busy practice with people coming and going all hours of the day, consider putting in a bookshelf with support information for pregnant women and their partners and families. A small area dedicated to young children can be a nice feature, too. Do not forget to decorate the rest room(s) --- they will be used and an image of flowers or a deer and fawn beats the medical charts.
Plug in all the electronic devices, sterilizing equipment and any other items. Check that they all function properly. Make sure you have battery back-up and flashlights on hand, if the power should fail. If your sterilizing equipment is in a laboratory area, make sure you have proper supplemental equipment nearby, such as cloths, alcohol, cleaning supplies (preferably nontoxic).
Finalize any attached birthing rooms. Furnishings, curtains, bedding, monitors, assessment gear, cushioning, birthing stool, bed pans, buckets, bowls, plastic protection, sterilized exam items and lighting are basic, but create an environment that is friendly, calm, and nicely decorated for the mother-to-be. Birthing clinics or hospital zones may be nearby, but your own labor space for time before transport can provide a great start.
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Debra J. Rigas, a professional writing coach, has been a writer and editor since 1975. She is the author of the nonfiction book "Everyone's A Guru" and has edited novels ("The Woman Pope") and worked in arts and sciences as a filmmaker, boat captain, landscaper, counselor, theater administrator and licensed midwife.