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Associateships: Be Prepared

At every Starting into Practice seminar we are hit with questions and concerns about chiropractors who "take advantage" of their associates.  Tales of new doctors who have been used and abused by the senior D.C are rampant, making new graduating doctors leery of taking a position as an associate even though they may not be financially ready or business savvy enough to be going it alone just yet.

Further discussion often reveals why these "new associates" are being treated this way. Here are a few things that you can do to prevent yourself from falling into that situation.

  • Set expectations and talk about expectations with the hiring D.C. You might not want to work for a doctor who is only expecting you to do spinal screenings.
  • Conduct due diligence. Search local newspapers for any bad press concerning the D.C as well as checking the state association's discipline board.
  • Prepare an honest personal budget so that you know how much you need in order to live. Hiring D.C's don't always have a clear understanding unless you can articulate it to them. Remember, you are the one who needs to show your value!
  • Ask a hiring D.C. if they have had other associates and what kind of an experience they had with their associate. Ask if you can contact those former associates.
  • Find a good contract attorney. They can easily reveal issues you might not see.
  • Create a 60 day review - Have a clause in the contract that calls for a review between the hiring D.C. and you at about two months. If one or the other of you see that your partnership is not working out, you can both walk away and the full contract, including non-compete, goes away. It's a win-win for both parties.

With the economic climate in turmoil right now, an associateship might be just the right way to learn all of the business knowledge you will need for the future and may even provide an opportunity to buy out the senior D.C.'s practice!

As for "eating their young," I've found that new practitioners often "grease" themselves with "lack of preparation flavoring" so that the "senior lions" - though seeing you as a valuable asset - are as naive at hiring and knowing your needs as you are in finding a good fit.

So prepare yourself, talk honestly with the senior doctor about expectations and maybe you won't be the next associate "devoured" by rumors!

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