I have just graduated and I do not know whether I should open a practice or work for someone. How do you make that decision?
Frustrated & Undecided in Tuscaloosa, AL
Many chiropractors have not been an employer before and there is much to learn for this new role; it is not just telling people what to do. Before making a decision, there are many things to take into account: do you have the money to sustain yourself and live on next to nothing for 6 months-2 years? Can you work part time while you get your practice off the ground? Do you have the credit to get financing for start up, equipment, and software? Can you go out and get patients? Do you have what it takes to be a leader versus a student or follower? You have to weigh your skills and talents against your inabilities to decide which direction is right for you.
There are many wealthy associate chiropractors out there, most of which got there by joining an already existing and successful practice. If you join a practice under the right circumstances, you could be on your way to all of the advantages of being an employee. Do not just sign any contract that your dream employer puts in front of you; it may be in your best interest to hire someone to do the negotiating for you, or, at least, take a look at the contract. You want to make sure that you are entitled to a production bonus, and that there is an option to buy in (if that is one of your goals), and you want your malpractice paid for. Once you start working, that paycheck comes like clockwork; there is no staying late to be able to pay the bills for the week. You enjoy vacation time, sick leave, holiday pay, paid health insurance and malpractice,;however, at times, autonomy can sometimes be sacrificed.
Not interested in climbing a pre-defined ladder and want to build your own ladder as you climb? If you are thinking of opening a practice, there are many things to do in preparation, such as: your timeline (Are you going to buy or build an office?); the financials of a practice: your software and equipment, your staff and, not to mention, all of the laws and regulations they have on businesses. This process has many variables, it is best to speak to someone who knows everything about how to open a practice from scratch. Talking to an expert will create a very large return on investment on your end, because it will save you time, and it could very well be the difference between fame and fortune and bankruptcy. Make sure that you are opening your practice for the right reasons; the grass is not always greener on the other side. Being an owner means that you will work the hardest for the longest. Just be sure to set realistic expectations. Next month we will take a look at how to open a practice and, following that, once you have a practice, how to effectively choose staff and how to interview them.
Lisa Goldberg is the Executive Director of Physicians Choice Concierge (PCC), a company with 16 years experience specializing in practice operations and financial/business services for chiropractic practices. Lisa Goldberg has consulted in the opening of many new practices. Contact Lisa at 888-369-2224 or at
for a personal consultation, or if you have a question you’d like to ask in an upcoming issue.