What to Expect Post-Graduation

My Homemade Criteria for Owning Your Own Practice

Hey Cygnets (we seriously need a better school name),

I was contacted over break by a prospective student about what to expect upon graduation with regards to practice or jobs. I have contacted a few of my older friends in practice who are a couple semesters out of school and I'll have some interview-based blogs as they get back to me over the coming weeks with some good information for prospective and current students. With that said, I'll break down my understanding of some different options post-graduation. 

I'd like to start with this: Chiropractic is a WIDE OPEN field. It's as unique as its doctors and you can do whatever you like with it if you hustle and want it enough. For instance, there are chiropractors on cruise lines, in hospitals, working in residencies, sports teams, etc., etc. I don't have enough space (or time or will power) to break down all the different paths one can take post-grad. I will focus my energies on the BIGGEST QUESTION of any chiropractic student. 

Do I start my own practice or work for someone else?  

That's the million-dollar question. Answering it comes down to a couple factors in my brief experience through looking at other doctors/students:

  1. What type of person are you?
  2. Are you good enough to practice on your own?
  3. Are you prepared enough to open by yourself?

1. Let's call a spade a spade here: some people are NOT meant to own their own practice. It's just not in their mindset to be responsible for running the practice, treating patients, marketing, and everything else that comes along with being a BUSINESS OWNER. Some docs will tell you, "I just worry about treating patients. I don't care about business." Well in the real world, you could be the best doctor in the world and if you can't get any patients in your door or pay your bills on time (+student loans) then you're going to chapter 7 (bankruptcy).

I try not to sugar coat anything because I respected my Dad for telling me how it was when I was younger so I wasn't wet behind the ears when the real world stuff started up. Don't fret too much, however. We get some business classes here; there are all sorts of practice management companies out there to help you; you can always shadow lots of doctors and they'll be happy to show you how the office management stuff runs. Point is: If you're a competent physician, you're not socially awkward, and you have even the tiniest bit of passion to own your own office, it's more than doable.

2012-05-22_hockey
My brother and I playing roller hockey--old mighty ducks style!

Side note on bias: I am opening my own practice upon graduation (unless I get an absurd offer from a sports team or top doctor in an unique area I want to live in for a year or two). I have worked in a chiro office for 4 years and I have a business degree from undergrad. I like doing things my way without having to take orders or be held back from others, so I didn't even have a question in my mind that I was choosing to start my own practice. Sorry for the strong bias. With that said, I've been preparing. I'm not just letting life come; I'm grabbing hold while I'm ahead.

2. The second question is just as sobering. Are you good enough to see patients by yourself in your own office and get them better? The easiest (and cheapest) marketing strategy long-term is your clinical results. Get people better and they will talk. If you're still struggling to help people in 9th and 10th tri (main clinic), maybe you should consider working for another doc for a year or two until you feel confident in your clinical skills.

How do you make sure this doesn't happen? Go to SEMINARS. GO TO SEMINARS. GO TO SEMINARS. GO TO SEMINARS. Oh, yeah? GO TO SEMINARS and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Oh, yeah? And GO TO CLUBS, GO TO CLUBS, GO TO CLUBS. If you get into NUHS and you are not going to clubs, seminars or practicing your "high speed palpations", you are doing yourself and your future patients a disservice, and I did not do my job at this blog.

Adjusting isn't very hard, but it's extremely difficult if you rely only on the few hours a week we are physically adjusting in classes. We cool? I know I'm biased. But that's why I'm blogging and that's why you're reading--it's to decrease your learning curve so you don't wind up in the clinic wondering what the heck you're doing 5 visits into a patient with back pain and no idea what to do next.

Side note: Readers of this blog are statistically proven to become better doctors and are 99% better looking than non-readers. ;) 

3. Last Question: Are you prepared to be in practice by yourself? The obvious answers are have you shadowed docs, gotten a chiro assistant job, talked to teachers with practices and older trimester students? I'll do my part to help out by rounding up the interviews from some recent grads for you to answer some of your questions. If you have a specific question feel free to email me. :)

Until next week...

Peace out Cub Scout,
CC