Many successful chiropractors started as associates. Sometimes associates spend years working for someone else before they go out on their one.
An associate position can lead to a practice purchase, a partnership, or a satellite clinic; an associateship is also a great way to learn the ropes and become more confident about both the technical side (adjusting skills) and the business aspects of practice. So what does a successful associate position look like? Two examples might help you see if associating is right for you:
• A satellite clinic. Dr. Corley started working for Dr. Sims as an employee, and from the beginning he knew he would be running a separate satellite clinic. He worked in Dr. Sims’ office for three months, learning the adjusting protocols Dr. Sims wanted him to use, figuring out how to run the billing and collections process, and learning how to manage patient flow through the office. During this time, Dr. Corley and Dr. Sims found an office location in a nearby town, and Dr. Sims leased the office and purchased the equipment. At the end of the three months, Dr. Corley moved into the new office, hired a front desk person, and began marketing to get new patients. Since Dr. Sims’ staff does the billing and collecting, Dr. Corley is free to build the practice. Dr. Corley has a buy-out option or he can continue as an employee for as long as he likes. An associate position like this is a great opportunity for someone who wants to be in a solo practice but who doesn’t want to deal with the problems of running an office.
• Working together. Dr. Cass has a busy practice; in fact, she has been turning away patients. So she decided to hire an associate (employee). She searched carefully for just the right person, because she wanted someone who was a hard worker and an excellent adjuster, but also someone with the personality to fit into the office. She realized that having associates is both a blessing and a curse; they provide hands to help with adjusting but they need direction. She found Dr. Tonia Carter, a new graduate. Tonia’s emphasis is in pediatrics and family, while Dr. Cass has a Gonstead practice. Dr. Cass saw an opportunity to bring in someone new to attract different types of patients. Dr. Carter has been able to cut down the waiting list and they have transitioned into an arrangement where each doctor sees specific types of patients. Dr. Carter is paid a base rate plus a bonus. Because it is a busy office, she almost always receives her bonus, which is determined as a collections base less overhead times a percentage. In a situation like this where the practice is busy, there is lots of room for an associate to take on patients and grow in skills and confidence without the pressure of having to worry about bringing in enough patients to make a reasonable salary.