I n my previous articles, I described the types of associateships that are, and are not, successful. Now that you know the type of associateship you should look for—here’s how to find that “needle-in-a-haystack associateship from Heaven.”
A potential associate should search for an established doctor who is earning $500,000 or more per year. Do not associate with a doctor practicing below this level, as one of your associateship goals should be to learn how to run a large, successful practice. You can only learn this by either hiring an experienced consultant, or by associating with a doctor who is already doing it. The established doctor must also be able to comfortably give the associate doctor 20 to 25 new patients a month, without a financial worry if any are lost. Only a very successful doctor with a large volume of new patients can match these criteria. Don't settle for less when you're looking for a great associate position.
Looking for a Successful Associate Doctor Practice
Your first step is to talk to the president of the county chiropractic society of the area in which you're interested. Ask him who the area's most successful and ethical practitioners are that hire associates. Your association president will know. Then, speak with those doctors and ask if they need an associate. If they do, apply for the position. If not, ask them who the most successful practitioners are in the state who operate good associate practices. They'll know. When you ask three or four doctors the same question, you'll find the same names cropping up.
Go to these doctors and ask them for a job. If they don't have a position available, ask them to refer you to other super-successful, ethical doctors who are good trainers of associates. If you appear to be good associate material, they'll be happy to do so.
By following these steps, you will find the super-successful associate practices. The doctors who run these practices are networked by mutual interests and concerns, and are openly supportive of each other.
Your next step is to contact the practice consultants that have clients in the area you are interested in practicing. Ask them about large successful associate practices. They’ll know and will be happy to guide you to a successful practitioner. If the successful practitioner has a full complement of associates and is not hiring at the time, ask him for a referral to other successful associate practices. He’ll be happy to help you.
Another method of finding a successful practitioner is to ask vitamin and chiropractic equipment vendors in your state. These people know everyone. They will be happy to steer you in the right direction because the more successful they make the established doctor by referring a good associate (YOU) to them, the more vitamins, orthopedic supplies, or equipment they will sell the established doctor and, thereby, the more successful the vendor will become. Everybody wins.
Look for “Associate Wanted” ads in the classified ad section of the local chiropractic society newsletter, your state association journal, and our national journals. Call these doctors and follow the previously described recommendations.
Another fruitful source of associate positions is through the profession’s employment agencies, vacation doctor companies, etc.
Finally, if the previous methods of finding an associate position are not successful, write a letter to all the practicing DC’s in the area of the state in which you’d like to practice. In this letter, state you are looking for an associate position, your qualifications and your willingness to work hard. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the response.
Best of luck in finding a great associateship. I did and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I had the best teacher and, because of the training he generously provided me with, I became a success. Forty years later, I still follow the principles and guidelines he taught me. I've had a dozen associates, who I trained the same way and I'm extremely proud of their subsequent successes.
Doctors, I hope you follow the guidelines of this article. Identify and avoid the types of associateships that will only trap and hurt you. Find a good associate position…become a great associate! When you become a great associate, you'll become a great doctor. And, when you learn what the successful practitioner knows, you'll be able to duplicate the established doctor’s success after you have successfully opened your own practice.
More information on becoming an associate and the specific responsibilities of the established and associate doctors in an associate and independent contractor practice is available online at www.practicestarters.com.
When you're through being an associate and are ready to start your own practice, hire a consultant who specializes in starting practices to guide you. Don’t think that you now have the experience necessary to start and build a new practice…you don’t! Yes, you’ve gained the experience of caring for patients and learned some good office procedures, but that’s not enough knowledge to start a successful new practice. You still have to learn how to find a great office location, effective bank negotiating strategies, cost-cutting remodeling negotiations, how to market a new practice, etc. It’s the lack of this specialized knowledge that dooms new practices, not the lack of knowledge regarding patient care.
Dr. Peter G. Fernandez is the world’s authority on starting a practice. He has 30 years’ experience in starting new practices, has written four books and numerous articles on the subject, and has consulted in the opening of over 3,000 new practices. Please contact Dr. Fernandez at 10733 57th Avenue North, Seminole, Florida, 33772; 1-800-882-4476;
or visit www.drfernandez.com