One of the most important decisions that a chiropractic graduate may face is whether to open a private practice or work as an associate in a clinic. While there isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all solution, there is good news. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2014 and 2024, employment for chiropractors will grow by 17 percent, which is much faster than average thanks to the growing number of patients seeking complementary health care. This means that whichever route you choose, you’ll likely be successful. By knowing what to consider when making this important decision, you’ll pursue your professional objectives with greater confidence.
Career Options for Doctor of Chiropractic Graduates
Working as an Associate
When you work as an associate in a health-care setting, you’re a non-owner employee. Today, chiropractors have the opportunity to associate in a chiropractic practice, a multi-disciplinary clinic, a hospital, or a corporate clinic. While you have some autonomy in regards to patient treatment, you’re not your own boss, nor do you bear the responsibilities of ownership. However, you may gain the opportunity to purchase an ownership interest in the practice.
This type of employment arrangement allows you to see what it takes to run a successful practice. With time, you’ll learn what types of business and management practices you want to employ if you open your own clinic, as well as practices you’d do differently.
Another advantage of working as an associate is the financial savings. Many graduates have student loans. When you work in a clinic or hospital, someone else creates a business model, secures a business loan and assumes the overhead costs related to purchasing or renting the building, medical supplies, furniture, office supplies, insurance costs, employee payroll and other operating expenses. You don’t have to worry about bookkeeping, taxes, marketing and other details. You can apply the money you earn toward personal expenses, rather than reinvest it in the business.
Opening Your Own Clinic
If you’re ready to pursue your dream of starting a private practice head-on, and have the financial means to do so, opening your own chiropractic clinic might be right for you. Starting your own practice might also be a good idea if you plan to do so in an area that has a shortage of chiropractors.
When you open your own practice, you choose the space and establish everything the way you want—from the reading material in the waiting room to the business model. You also get to choose which clinical and administrative professionals work with you.
While you might not earn much money initially, your cash flow should increase as the years progress. Eventually, you’ll be able to set your own hours and earn a bigger paycheck than if you worked as an associate.
Purchasing an Existing Practice
Starting your own practice and working as an associate aren’t your only options after graduation. You may also have the opportunity to purchase an existing practice. When you pursue this path, you buy into a previous doctor’s building, employees, systems and equipment. In addition to assuming the practice’s existing patients, you may also acquire its referral base while creating new referral sources.
When you purchase a reputable existing practice, you have the benefit of working with the experienced staff, which may include administrators and other doctors. A senior staff member may also act as a mentor during the transition. Because the overhead costs differ in this type of situation, the cash flow may be greater and more immediate than starting a clinic from scratch.
Business Services for Palmer Graduates
As a Palmer doctor of chiropractic, you don’t have to face the future alone. The Business Services department at Palmer has everything you need to learn more about the options available, as well as resources to kick-start your career.
The Palmer Center for Business Development connects graduates and practices via the CareerNetwork which usually has more job openings than graduates available to fill them Attend luncheons, seminars and other events to learn more about different business modules. You’ll eceive assistance writing your resume and practicing your interviewing skills. You’ll also find tools and resources available to help you design a business plan, purchase chiropractic and administrative products, find the perfect location and more, so that you may build a thriving career. Get in touch with the Center for Business Development to learn more.