associateship - starting into practice

How to Know When You've Outgrown an Associateship

How long should you remain in an associateship before you open your own practice? Six months? One year? Three years? The answer isn't always clear-cut because no two D.C.s will have the same goals, concerns or personal financial situations. However, there is an easy way to make the decision clearer.

While there isn’t a magic formula to decide the right time to try starting your own practice, examining what you’ve learned and using a little “backwards thinking” can give you a better idea of when you should move forward. Start by taking a look at the reasons you chose to seek an associateship in the first place.

Reality Check Time

For some D.C.s, an associateship is a great way to improve clinical skills and also learn the business aspects of operating a practice before venturing out on their own. Many recent graduates find an associate position ideal because:

  • They’re unsure where they want to practice
  • They aren’t confident they could run their own practice
  • They want to learn how to run a practice from a more experienced D.C.

If you’ve been operating as an associate for a while, give yourself a reality check by reconsidering these same concerns. Have you decided where you want to practice? Have you been in the associate position long enough to learn the ins and outs of managing your own practice? Did you gain the confidence you’ll need to be successful as a sole practitioner? If you can answer “yes” to these questions, it might be time to think about starting your own practice.

Resolve the Economic Issue

Another big reason new D.C.s choose to work for someone else initially is because of a lack of funding to open their own practice. Even when you possess the knowledge and confidence to operate your own practice, if you don’t have the funding­–or can’t obtain the funding–to sustain yourself financially until you’ve built up a solid patient base, then you may want to stay put in your associateship a bit longer.

Soul Search Before Going Solo

Maybe you’re the type of person who has a natural entrepreneurial spirit. You thrive on the challenge of building a business from the ground up and revel in the freedom of being your own boss.  

If this describes you and you’re ready to tackle both the business aspects as well as the clinical side of being a sole practitioner, then it’s probably time to say your good-byes and move forward from an associateship.

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