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#145: Options After Chiropractic Graduation

What's your Plan?

What should you do after graduation? This is our topic for today! Hopefully you aren’t waiting until you graduate, pass part 4 boards, and get your license to figure this out! Whether you just started school or you're nearing the end, thinking about what you’ll do after you graduate should be something that you're continually thinking about. First I’m going to talk about what you should be doing your first few years in school, then I’ll talk about what you should be doing your last year in school, and then we’ll get to the options you have after you graduate. I also have a couple questions from you all that I’m going to answer, so stay tuned to the end to learn a lot! This is a big podcast, lots of information in the hopes of helping you all have some aha moments. So sit back, relax and let’s talk about your possible future.

Are you Still a Chiropractic Student?

Developing a plan for after graduation should be something you're working on! Having a plan will put you steps ahead of others. Want to learn more about how you can get a SMART START, listen to podcast episode 194! Listen now on Spotify | iTunes. The Smart Start program walks you through your options after graduation, the top things you'll need to think about to make your personal decision, and the money management tools necessary to get you started! Get a SMART START today!

While You're in Chiropractic School

While you’re in school these are the things you should be doing: You could even start these if you’ve stumbled upon this podcast before you start school.

  • Shadow doctors - hone in on your practice focus, what do you really love about chiropractic?
    • Around school
    • Around home when you go back for breaks
    • Near vacation spots
    • In other locations with Chiropractors you've met, doing the type of work you're interested in
  • Work in an office - see how offices operate learn what you want and what you don’t want to do
  • Meet mentors - can help guide you 
  • Visit locations you’re interested in and build relationships in those communities
  • Get smart about money - build up savings. Download our Savings Checklist & Budget Worksheet
  • Be serious, start adulting, start creating the habits you’ll need to succeed. 
    • Work ethic
    • Good personal habits
    • Daily routine
    • Self growth

 Your Last Year in Chiropractic School

During your last year in school, you’ll need to start working on a plan for after graduation, because by the time you’re 3 months out from graduating you need to know what you’re going to do! Today, I’ll talk about the 2 choices you have and the 5 most popular options in hopes of helping you narrow down what’s right for you. It’s important that you listen to the different reasons we discuss in this episode, because there might be things you haven’t thought about, and some red flags that should steer you clear of making a mistake.

You Have Choices

Rich and I both went to school knowing we would open our own practice, but after working with hundreds of students and new grads, we’ve seen how different options are right for different chiros. We hate to say it, but we’ve also helped several chiros that thought they had a solid plan but once it got closer to graduation, a major piece fell through and they needed a plan B, and sometimes a plan C. So even if you think you have a solid plan, keep listening because things change and you want to be open to the best opportunity for you when you graduate.

Chiropractic Associate(Employee) vs. Business Owner

The two choices you have to choose between are do you want to work for someone else, or are you ready to start your own business? If you want to work for someone else at first, then you’re choosing to become a Chiropractic Associate, which is working for another chiropractor as an employee, and it’s the first of the 5 options we’ll talk about today. When you are hired as a chiropractic associate, your place of employment will tell you what to wear, when to work, and most often how you’ll exam and treat the patients. There are lots of things to know about when you choose to become an Chiropractic Associate, which we are talking about all month. An Associate position is a great way to gain clinical experience and business savvy before you open your own. It’s also a great way for someone to practice without taking on the responsibility or extra work of owning the business. We will really go in-depth about becoming an Associate on the podcast over the next month. Even if you think you want to be an associate, keep listening because we’ve helped lots of students that thought they wanted to be associates but changed their mind with a little confidence boost and help from us. If you plan to move home and stay, then being an associate may not be your best decision. You don’t want to sign a non compete to work in the area you know you’ll stay for the next 10+ years.

Chiropractic Business Owner

If you think you are ready to start your own business, then the following 4 options are your primary choices. Also, if you’re in this group then you’re the reason we developed the ChiroPlanner, the Foundation and the ROF system. Having a step by step guide to get you started will help tremendously. Also, having the right systems right from the start will give you more chances for success. If you’re interested in learning more about them, visit our website and click RESOURCES on the top right. You can learn more about them there!

So let’s break down your choice of working for yourself. If this is you, then the following 4 options are what you’ll need to consider. 

Independent Contractor

Your first option after graduation if you want to own your own business is to become an independent contractor or IC as it’s commonly referred to as. As an Independent Contractor you will own your own company. Either you rent space and open your own practice within someone else's office or you temporarily fill-in at an office or offices, and are paid hourly/daily to be there. If you are confused about the difference between Assoc and IC, listen to Episode #123. Being an IC after graduation is most commonly renting a space in another DC office or other office that has room for you, so that’s our focus for today. We think this is the ideal first step for most of you, if you’re where you’d like to live long term and you’re wanting a private practice. It’s a great way to get started on your own without the hefty expense of taking on your own lease, buying all your own equipment, or having the overhead of an office. A lot of doctors stay as an IC long term because it allows them the flexibility of working less hours to do other things. In our office we have 2 Independent contractors, and have had others that either took the leap out on their own, or found that being an Associate was actually the right option for them.

Open a Chiropractic Office

Your 2nd option is to start your own office. It’s like being an IC on steroids. You can still do this on the budget side, but you will need more savings to get started and carry you through the higher overhead. This was the option we chose when we started. It’s a giant leap, but if you feel confident in your clinical experience, you know where you want to live, and you're confident in your ability to start and grow a business, then this might be the right choice for you.

Buy a Chiropractic Practice

So we’ve talked about becoming an Independent contractor and opening your own office, your 3rd option to own your own business is to buy a practice. This most often will require considerable savings, a bank loan, and/or an investor willing to take a shot on you. If you’re interested in buying a practice then listen to episode #136, an interview I did with Progressive Practice Sales. There are lots of benefits to buying a practice, but a lot of red flags to look out for and things to know before moving ahead with the purchase. Getting a loan may not be as hard as you think and having a well-oiled machine can really help you get started.  

House Call Chiropractor

The last option for starting your own business is that you can start a house call, concierge, practice where you treat patients either at their office or in their home. If this interests you, then listen to Episode #128, an interview I did with house call chiropractor, Lucas Marchand. This is a great way to start with little overhead.

What's Best for You?

So to recap: You’ll first need to decide whether you want to work for yourself or work for someone else. If you work for someone else then you’ll need to start looking for positions as a Chiropractic associate. If you want to work for yourself then you have a few more options, you can become an IC, open your own office, buy a practice, or start a house call practice. We’re going to continue diving deeper into each of these options in the coming weeks. So continue listening to the podcast. Send us your questions on instagram, and join us in our facebook group to further the conversation.

Questions from Instagram

Here are some questions that I’ve received on Instagram that I promised to address on this podcast. If you want to submit a question find us on instagram and DM me there, @lifestylepractice or @drhaleyday.

Chiropractic Office Overhead

The first question I got is, “What are the best ways to keep overhead low?” This is a great question for us because this was one of our primary goals when we were starting. Rich and I opened our office on a dime. It was nice, but not high tech or cutting edge. We bought most of our furniture from craigslist, and a new xray unit, we were the only professional office in town with xray, which was nice. We kept expenses low and lived lean and mean. We’re planning a much more in-depth share of all of this in the coming months. We put together an entire talk that we shared with Cleveland University, Palmer Florida, and NUHS Florida chiropractic students. If you’d like us to come to your school then send us a DM on Instagram or Facebook, we’d love to connect and come out, especially if there’s a beach!

When we were starting we had a few rules in order to keep our overhead low because that was one of our main goals...Anything we bought could be cheap, but not look cheap. We put money where it mattered, lobby room, x-ray, picture frames, poster frames, etc. We reminded ourselves constantly that it was version 1.0. We knew we’d get another chance to have a nicer office. We now have a nicer office than we did then, and we’re planning an even nicer office for the future. That helps us not feel like it has to be perfect, just perfect for right now. We also lived lean and mean and were willing to continue living like a student for a few years to live better after.

 One of the easiest ways to keep your overhead low is to start as an IC or house call chiropractor and grow a practice before moving it into your own space. This is best if you’re really committed to building your own office but don’t have the savings. There are so many ways to go about opening an office, you have to think outside the box and be creative, how can it work best for you with what you have?

Finding an Associate Position

Another question I got is, “What do I recommend for some of you new grads, or about to be graduates, that are having a hard time finding something that will pay adequately when you have $200,000 in loan debt, and possibly covid is affecting this.”

First off, I wrote a blog about keeping your student loans lower and recorded a podcast, episode #142. I highly recommend that, especially if you are just starting in chiropractic school, but no matter where you're at. Keeping your student loans low will provide you with so many more options after graduation. It's worth looking into and trying out!

I talk with or know about Associates finding jobs almost daily. People are finding great positions that pay well or have potential to pay well, so there’s a few things I’ll touch on.

You have to be resilient and resourceful. You need to take the right steps to develop yourself into the ideal associate for your ideal associate position, which is why we are developing the Ideal Associate course. I’ll talk more about that next week.

I was listening to a podcast last week and someone was telling a story about how one of their friends kept saying she could never find the "right guy". The friend asked, "Well, what is your ideal guy? And she explained everything she was looking for in a future boyfriend/husband. Once she was done, the friend then asked, "What do you think that man is looking for in an ideal girlfriend/wife." And, AHA. She quickly realized she was nothing like what that ideal man was looking for. What things are you putting off until after graduation, that you could be doing now to make yourself a better version of you? Put a fire under yourself that makes you find the ideal associate position. They’re out there. I read contracts and talk with students all the time, finding great jobs, two in the last few days. These jobs exist! 

Second, surround yourself with positivity! Sometimes we need to put blinders on in order to move ourselves forward, which reminds me of a story I heard about crabs. If 2 crabs are stuck in a bucket they will spend all their time pulling each other down from crawling out, instead of trying to work together to get out. There are a lot of chiropractors doing just fine in chiropractic! Most of them aren’t on Facebook lamenting their problems with practice or student loans, because they’re busting their ass, doing well in their practice. I’m also guessing there are students finding these jobs and they're not the ones sitting around complaining about there being no jobs. Don’t hangout with crabs! So many success stories everyday. You can be one too. Be resourceful, be resilient, and make a plan. 

Third, you might have to take a lower paying job and prove yourself. Typically most jobs have a bonus structure so that if you can grow your patient base then you can grow your salary. Focus on that part of the offer. 

 Stay Tuned...

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