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By Jason A. Duprat MBA, MSA, APRN, CRNA, Founder — Ketamine Academy  

Given the advantages of ketamine therapy for individuals and society, I know how rewarding it can be to start your own treatment facility. As the founder of Ketamine Academy, I help aspiring clinicians launch their own ketamine therapy businesses. In this article, I distill some of my top advice for those considering this path.

What is Ketamine Therapy and How Does it Work?

Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that has been used for more than 50 years. Its potential as a treatment for depression was first published in the year 2000 when researchers at Yale University released their results of the first randomized controlled trial that demonstrated ketamine’s antidepressant effects. Some of these patients reported improved mental health, even months afterward. The drug is known to have dissociative effects, which means that most people experience a sense of their mind being disconnected from their body. Sometimes, people report the treatment felt like a spiritual journey.

In terms of therapy, ketamine is effective for various mood disorders and certain pain conditions. Patients normally start by receiving two infusions per week, taper down to a single dose per week, and then drop to a single dose every other week. Treatment usually ends after six to eleven weeks, depending on the particular case, but boosters can be used if symptoms return.

Why Start a Ketamine Therapy Business

Starting this specialized practice is very rewarding because clinicians can help provide life-changing symptom improvements. Imagine having someone come through the door who has tried every anti-depressant on the market, but all have failed to work. Now, imagine them receiving a dose of ketamine and experiencing that years-long heaviness falls away. Seeing patients come back to life, transformed, is the best part of this work.

In addition, ketamine may be a solution to the opioid epidemic. It can treat pain without risking physical addiction when prescribed by a doctor and taken under careful monitoring.

Personally, I started my own ketamine therapy business to help people like my mother, who suffered from severe depression. Recent studies have shown that ketamine is also an effective treatment for PTSD and chronic pain.

When you launch your own ketamine therapy clinic, you will know you are making a difference in the world. Your interventions will have a positive impact on people who desperately need them.

How to Start a Ketamine Therapy Business

For licensed healthcare professionals like physicians or nurse practitioners, the process of establishing a ketamine therapy business is no different than starting a private practice. Many clinicians assume the costs are very high. In most cases, however, one can start a small practice for under $20-$25k. Still, many steps need to be taken into consideration before opening.

The first thing to consider is who will evaluate the patients. A licensed medical professional with training in the use of ketamine should oversee patient care, determining whether or not these treatments would be appropriate for given individuals and delineating precise treatment plans.

Next, consider who will administer the ketamine to patients and monitor their responses. A physician, advanced practice nurse, registered nurse, or paramedic are all able to handle this part of the process. However, a provider, such as a physician or advanced practice nurse, should be on site to mitigate any adverse effects.

Since ketamine can be administered via different routes, the next decision to make is which methods your clinic should offer. The FDA has approved ketamine in the form of esketamine, a nasal spray. However, studies show this form of ketamine administration to be less effective than ketamine administered through an IV. Other forms include lozenges, IV infusions (which last about 40 minutes when treating mental health conditions), and intramuscular injections.

In addition, clinic owners must decide whether or not to provide an “integration” service for patients. Integration means the medical professional meets with the patient after the ketamine has worn off to talk about their experience. Since patients can come out of these sessions with a lot of profound insights, these meetings can border on talk therapy or even transform into it. This type of service is often referred to as ketamine-assisted psychotherapy or KAP.

Along the same lines, some practices do offer therapy as an adjunct to the ketamine. Whether or not to do this is the next choice you will need to make when starting your own clinic.

Gain Support for Your New Ketamine Therapy Business

In my experience, it’s normal for clinicians interested in providing ketamine therapy to have many questions about these steps to steer their business in the right direction for themselves as owners. They also tend to have questions about how to obtain the necessary licenses and certifications and where to order the needed medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. 

At Ketamine Academy, our training programs cover these topics and more. Practicing ketamine clinicians, practice owners, and researchers teach our courses nationally approved for Continuing Education (CE) and Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits. Finally, the program includes group coaching and lifetime access to an online community with hundreds of other ketamine clinicians.

No matter what route you take to starting your ketamine therapy business, I applaud you for taking this path. Giving hope to those who previously had none is a worthy mission in life for any healthcare provider.

Jason A. Duprat MBA, MSA, APRN, CRNA is a nurse anesthetist and former naval officer, turned serial entrepreneur who has a formative background in private practice startups, business technology, and healthcare marketing. He is the Founder of the Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy, the Founder of the Ketamine Academy, and the Co-founder of the IV Therapy Academy. Duprat is the creator and host of the Healthcare Entrepreneur Academy Podcast, a podcast devoted to inspiring, motivating, and educating healthcare professionals on their quest to become successful healthcare business owners. On his show, Duprat has hosted over 256 episodes including over 120 guest interviews.

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