I think some students may not realize the importance of a mentor. While in school, of course we had our favorite teachers and clinicians that we connected with and sought their opinions. But for me, I never really had a specific mentor. I was content with the fact that after graduation I would have numerous doctors I could call for help.
When I moved back home, I received mixed responses from the other Chiropractors. Some were barely friendly, while others were glad to offer their ear if needed.
One doctor in particular was welcoming and, indeed, this was refreshing for me. I had no other option but to start my own practice; there were no doctors hiring associates and none willing to let me join them even as an exam doctor. (I live on an island and commuting wasn’t an option for me).
So I went for it. I had to. Luckily I became friends with another doctor and ended up working for him part time. As a new business owner and new doctor in a seasonal location, I had to find a part-time job. So I started working for him, simply running his office. This is hardly the ideal situation for a new Chiropractor, but I had to work somewhere, and I thought this was acceptable since I was still in a Chiropractor’s office.
Months later, this doctor has become my mentor, and I’ve realized that this relationship is invaluable for a new doctor and new business owner. Although I graduated with full confidence of my ability to diagnose and treat spinal complaints, I quickly realized that there was a huge gap in my education. Not that I blame Palmer at all, it’s just that much of it is learned by trial and error. Although I am glad that I started my own business right out of school, I highly recommend to whomever chooses to go this route to have a mentor. Right now I am still running my mentor’s office part-time, which is another invaluable experience. Even though I’ve worked in customer service before, working in a doctor’s office is completely different. I have a whole new respect for the person who runs the front desk.
Luckily, I also have my mentor’s team as a resource as well. Not only have they been in business for 20 years, but their insurance knowledge is vast. Even if we covered more on insurances in school, it probably would not be enough.
Much of what I’ve learned for insurance has been trial and error, so having another resource is essential. Although both the ACA and my state organization provide doctors with insurance resources, it’s not enough.
A mentor is an important resource, and they can be valuable for your practice growth. Not only am I able to discuss patient cases and get a second opinion if needed, I can easily access a successful business model, remove some of the stress of the insurance maze (that is often overwhelming) and improve my own personal and business skills. But perhaps most importantly, I have a network of people who want to see me be successful and are willing to help me get there. This alone is the most valuable of all.
Kimberly Burke, D.C. (Florida Campus, Class 113, 2011)
Oak Bluffs, MA