Following the warmth and fresh air and blooming flowers of spring, the wonder of summer is upon us.
With the change of season comes excitement; excitement about advancement and, most importantly, the thrill of graduation. Across the U.S., some 2,000-plus individuals have taken their boards and are now moving into their post-graduation careers. It’s an exhilarating yet scary time.
As the euphoria of graduation settles, many questions arise such as getting started, finding patients, making money, and the most pressing issue: When is the first installment of that hefty financial loan due? To that end, consider the following checklist of items to review once your certificate is in hand.
- There are a fair number of graduates that settle within 30 miles of their chiropractic college. One of the first areas of research is determining what the demographic of your competitors will be. Settling in an overpopulated area such as Miami, New York City, or Saint Louis may harm your future income. Look for areas where patient volume and need can support your making a living.
- After selecting a location, you’ll want to discover if any of your school’s alumni or peers in the chiropractic profession are nearby, as they can support and guide you. Getting the help of a mentor you can shadow for a few years can teach you the intricacies of running a practice. These include reimbursement, staffing issues, marketing, procedures, EHR, and note taking. Launching a solo practice is beyond risky if you don’t under- stand the foundational processes.
- One of the hidden secrets about chiropractic is that you will operate a business after graduation. Some colleges offer practice management and business courses. If your school doesn’t, seek out an education in business management, putting emphasis on staffing, marketing, and financial operations. Learning these skills will make you a better owner. Many community colleges and professional study programs offer public business courses.
- Whether you work as an intern, associate, or solo practitioner, you are in the relationship business. Any person you know or meet is a potential patient. Therefore, when you lift your head off the pillow each morning, acknowledge that your daily mission is meeting people. Each new connection you make can introduce you to other relationships. The more community you create, the greater the number of chances for your waiting room to flourish.
- A major stress upon graduation is repaying what is most likely a substantial student loan. Don’t waste time and instead start finding work to help you immediately settle your debt. Hold off on extravagant purchases because you have an obligation to repay—and it should be a priority. To that end, establish two important daily goals: networking aggressively to develop relationships that get you known in the community, and diagnosing patients while getting referrals from them. The more you sow, the more you eat. The more you earn, the sooner your debt will diminish.
- Avoid the allure of products, supplements, get-rich-quick schemes, and other distractions that take your focus away from building community and marketing your practice. There is no magic bullet that generates business and directs big profits your way— there is only hard work. You need to think like a golfer: Put your head down and focus on where you want to go.
Graduation is exciting. The time is now to take your vision of the perfect practice and make it a reality. Do not get caught in a gridlock of speculation and serendipity. As a new chiropractic graduate, be proud of your experiences, your investment, and your future. Now make it all happen.
Drew Stevens, Ph.D, is a practice management expert who works with struggling chiropractors and revives the practice into one that thrives. He can be reached at 877-391-6821 or through drewschiropracticmarketing.com.