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#146: How to Decide What you'll do After Graduation

What Should You Do After Graduation?

Last week I talked about the choices you have for after graduation. Here’s a quick recap, but you might want to listen to that episode first if you haven’t already, Episode #145

Once you graduate you’ll have two choices. Do you want to work for yourself or do you want to work for someone else. If you work for someone else then you’ll need to start preparing and looking for a chiropractic associate position. You need to make sure that you’re doing everything you need to be doing during school, in order for you to be the best chiropractor for the job. Don’t put this off until the last minute. We’ll have a lot more information in next week’s podcast about the steps to becoming an Associate and what you can be doing now to secure a great job later!

If you want to work for yourself then you have a few more options. Some of the most common options are to become an independent contractor and rent space within another office. The second most common option is to open your own office. Third, you can buy an existing practice. And the last option I talked about was starting a House Call/concierge practice treating patients in their home or office instead of having an office for them to come to. 

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!

7 Elements You Need to Consider

Today I’m talking about the 7 things you’ll need to consider when making this choice-whether you want to work for yourself or for someone else, and if you want to work for yourself, which choice is the best one for you. If after listening to last week's podcast, you’re still on the fence between two of the choices then today’s podcast will help you make a decision. I might even bring something up that you haven’t considered yet, that will change your course, so stay tuned to the end, so you can digest all the elements and feel good about the choices you’re making for your future. If you’ve already graduated then this will be a great episode for you to listen to and decide your next steps, when will it be time to move on from your associate position, or make changes in your own practice.

Please share this episode with friends that are making these decisions like you! Let’s help each other out so there are more successful chiropractors treating out there!

The first 3 factors I’m going to discuss all have to do with money. 


Savings is the first and one of the most important factors you’ll need to consider when making the choice of what you’ll do after graduation. If you haven’t listened to episode #142 yet, in that episode I talk about how I was able to save 50K while in school, which was enough to help get us started in our own practice. If you aren’t saving money while in school, then that would be a great episode to listen to. Having savings will give you a cushion and allow you to make choices that you won’t be able to make if you don’t have savings. Savings will allow you to invest in your own practice, buy a practice, and cover your personal overhead while you build. We were able to start our practice with savings. Our savings would have also allowed us to get a loan in order to purchase a practice if that had been what we wanted to do. 

Here are some ways you can start to build savings now:

  • Set a budget
  • Cut unnecessary expenses
  • Bring in extra income-sell items, get a job, work on campus

Download our Savings Checklist and Budget Worksheet to help build-up a savings for your future.


The second factor to consider is your budget. What is your personal overhead? Do you have:

  • Rent or mortgage to cover
  • Family to feed
  • Car payments
  • Other income
  • Utility expenses
  • Credit card debt

Having a family to feed and house to pay for will make it harder to cover those expenses and open your own practice with savings or a loan, compared to if you’re able to live at home for a year while you build your office.


So we’re talking about money, which includes savings and personal budget. It also includes your ability to get financing. In order to secure financing, you’ll typically need savings, someone that will gift you the down payment for the loan, a personal investor, or a co-signer for the loan. Getting a loan would be necessary if you’re planning to buy a practice or you want to start a practice, but don’t have enough savings to carry you through until you’re profitable. Taking out additional loans will increase the amount of interest you are paying across the board, so make sure that if you do get another loan, it’s a smart investment.

How Money Effects Your Decision 

If you don’t have any or you have minimal savings, if you have a large personal budget you need to cover, and no ability to get financing then becoming an Associate should be a clear choice at this point for you. On the other hand, if you have savings, a low personal budget, or you have the ability to secure financing then opening your own office could be a possibility. Let’s take a look at the other factors.


The fourth element to consider is your location. Will you stay where you’re at short term or long term. If you’ll only be there for a short amount of time, then it’s probably best to find an associate position to cover your expenses and get some experience before moving. If you’re planning to be somewhere long term then definitely starting your own or buying an existing practice is best, for a couple reasons. For one, you don’t want to sign a non-compete in an area where you want to settle and raise your family, unless you plan to be an Associate forever. A non-compete could cause you to have to move or have a long commute when you do decide to start your own. Also, if you’re moving back to your hometown then you should have the social network already in place to build your own practice, whether it's as an independent contractor, house call chiro, or opening your own office.

Some of you might be married and where you live might depend on that person’s job. I spoke to someone just last week, that will be changing her plans based on a great job offer her husband recently got. If you are temporarily living or moving to a place, but have plans to relocate, then I would recommend finding an Associate job to start. There’s no reason to go through the process of building your own practice, if your ultimate plan is to move, depending on the time frame for when you’ll move, and some other possibilities. For example, if it’s for a longer period of time with possibilities of forever, then you might want to look at starting your own or buying. Building a practice or buying and growing an existing practice might be a good investment for the time you are temporarily located.


So we’ve talked about money and location. Now we'll talk about confidence and work experience. There are two things to consider when we’re talking about confidence. Are you confident in your clinical experience to be on your own? Also, are you confident in your abilities to start, grow, and manage a business? If you’ve passed part 4 boards, gotten through clinic at school, have mentors you can talk to, have resources to review, then clinical confidence shouldn’t be a problem when starting your own practice. You will have extra time to examine, research, investigate, review, and discuss with others as you treat your patients and get into a rhythm of clinical confidence.

Work Experience

Business confidence may be different. There’s a lot to do, outside of being a great doctor. It can be overwhelming for someone who maybe hasn’t had a job before or someone who has had a job, but never worked in a medical office before. Prior work experience will play a large roll in your business confidence. If you are feeling really unsure about your abilities then you’ll need to develop this confidence by either working as an Associate for a time or finding a coach or management group you align with that will help walk you through the steps, then over time you’ll develop business confidence. 

Finding a Chiropractic Mentor/Business Coach

There are many things to consider when finding a coach or mentor. Some of you might already have an idea of a group you’d like to work with. I recommend reading this blog post I wrote before committing. If you are mildly confident in your abilities to start and build a business, but having a checklist, a guide, and an occasional phone call would be helpful to you during the process, then check out the resources on our website. The ChiroPlanner is a great guide to help navigate the overwhelm of getting started, and the Foundation and ROF system are perfect for navigating through the process and developing the systems you’ll need to get started. We created these resources for those of you that haven’t connected with a large practice management group and know it’s not necessary to make hefty payments to them in order to succeed in practice for yourself. If you have the confidence but need a simple guide combined with the ability to get feedback in our facebook groups then visit our website and click on RESOURCES to learn more! We know you don’t have to waste thousands of dollars being babysat by management groups in order to succeed because that’s what we did. We’ve also helped many others like you do the same!


Okay, back to our list. We’ve talked about money-savings, budget, ability to get financing, location, confidence, and work experience. The last element is time. Do you have extra time to devote to starting, building, and managing a practice? Or would it be better with your circumstances to find an associate position that you can work 30-40 hours a week and be done? Starting a business takes a little more time and energy, marketing and networking some nights and weekends, it may mean bending over backwards to meet your patients scheduling needs while you grow. Do you have that kind of time? Devoting the time now to build your own practice will payoff, but if you don’t have the time to do it, or aren’t good with time management, then building your own may not be the right choice for you. Being an Associate would be best if you work better with a schedule and under the direction of someone else. There’s nothing wrong with that. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, figuring out what your strengths and weaknesses are will really help you find your path  to success. 

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