by Larry Markson
Types Of Practitioners
A. INDIVIDUAL PRACTITIONERS
Since 90% of all chiropractors choose to open their own individual practices,there must be a good reason . . . and there is. The individual proprietorgenerally fares far better financially than those involved in group practicesor in partnerships.
Although opening your own office puts you under greater economic stressin the beginning, it also allows you to take full and total responsibilityfor your own career. You can practice the techniques of your preference. . . use the procedures you like . . . and answer to no one but yourself which is a little scary perhaps, but also the best way to find your truepotential is.
As your practice grows, you can add staff, an associate doctor, or evenan extern to help you. This allows you to maintain control and grow at yourown pace, in accordance with your own goals.
Most chiropractors enter partnership arrangements because they need topool capital or they require emotional support. Unfortunately, experienceindicates that most partnerships do not work FINANCIALLY, even if they dowork PERSONALLY. Many new practitioners proceed anyway, based upon an erroneousimpression that two can produce and earn twice as much as an individualpractitioner. That is simply not the truth and rarely, if ever, happens.
Partnerships are simply not the best way to start. However, we recognizethat some of you will still choose to open a partnership practice. Priorto making that final decision, we recommend a thorough investigation ofall pros and cons ... in an attempt to avoid common mistakes that can causeproblems later on.
All partnerships must be registered and protected by a legally executed written contract that contains a "Buy/Sell Agreement" securedby life insurance. ...our attorney can provide details.
C. PROFESSIONAL CORPORATIONS
With the current tax laws, if you are an individual practitioner thereis generally no real advantage to forming a professional corporation. So DON'T DO IT, and don't allow your accountant to talk you into it. In multi-doctoror partnership practices, a professional corporation does offer some protectionand may need to be considered.
Professional Corporations/Associations (P.C. in some states, P.A. inothers) that employ two or more doctors, need the protection of a "Buy/SellAgreement" and a life insurance policy to cover the buy-out in theevent of an untimely death.
Remember, a professional corporation does not shield you from a malpracticesuit.
D. ASSOCIATE POSITIONS
After graduation, some of you will select to become an associate doctorin an already established practice. The decision to become an associateis usually based on one of two reasons; either you feel the experience ofbeing in an established practice will help you gain additional knowledgeand confidence, or you lack the necessary capital to open your own office.
Unfortunately, there are more applicants for associate positions thanthere are offices requiring the services of an associate doctor. However,if an opportunity does present itself, you should be aware that you maybe required to sign a contract with the head doctor. That contract willhave a "restrictive covenant" which will prohibit you from openingyour own practice within a given mile radius of the office.
As an associate, you want to practice on the same days as the head doctorand know in advance that he/she is willing to teach you every phase of runninga practice. The entire object is for you to gain the necessary and valuablepractice experience that creates a true professional. You must be allowedto do consultations and reports of findings on your own, and also to examine,x-ray and adjust enough patients to elevate your level of professional expertiseand competence.
Be careful with any contract that includes a provision to pay you asan independent contractor. Numerous law suits have found that most "independentcontractors" are actually employees and should be compensated accordingly.
Also, it is not recommended that your compensation be based upon any kind of percentage of services rendered or collections. This arrangementrarely works in the long run. Either the associate doesn't earn enough tostay with the practice, or the associate earns "too much too fast",and is terminated by the employer. Another reason is that in many states,percentage contracts have been found to be "FEE SPLITTING", whichis a serious offense. Call us if you need any assistance in interpretingthe financial proposals contained in any associate agreement.
Lastly, someone seeking an associate position should know in advancethat associates rarely earn enough money, after taxes and personal expenses,to accumulate the capital necessary to open their own practices. Therefore,an associateship is to be considered strictly as a "chiropractic residency"or "professional apprenticeship".