Recent trends are encouraging young healthcare providers to bring their skills to bear on opportunities beyond private practice.
Associate average earnings are down almost 13 percent since 2011, and have declined annually with no signs of stopping.1 A lack of autonomy, declining reimbursement, and endless paperwork are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the problems associates report.
Traditionally, doctors in the later years of their career have turned to nonclinical work, but some new grads who hear the complaints from field doctors are joining the roughly 100,000 doctors in med school who also do not intend to treat patients as their primary activity.2
When you ask chiropractors why these problems exist in the profession, you’ll get various answers, but the consensus seems to be that little can be done about it. The best way to change the system is from within and the best people to fix a problem are those who see it first-hand.
Doctors are starting to think they can help more patients by making system-wide changes rather than treating patients one at a time. And they’re right: There is a positive correlation between doctors in management positions and the clinical quality of a healthcare organization.3
If you’re concentrating on how to improve healthcare as a whole and becoming a chiropreneur, then here are some of your options:
Seek a mentor who has the job you think you want
Find a clinic, hospital, business, government office, or public health organization you think has made a tangible and important impact in a field you care about. Search their executive leadership, board of directors, employee directory, and news articles for names associated with the initiative. If you’re not sure how to make the first contact, perhaps write them a thank you letter for all their hard work.
Use helpful resources
Good ones to start with are the American College of Healthcare Executives and the American Association for Physician Leadership. Both of these organizations have multiple publications, career services, and can put you in contact with a mentor. Find relevant CEUs, publications, and conferences both inside and outside your profession.
Ask your employer for new initiative funds
If you’re looking for real-world experience in management, you won’t have to look far. Start doing something in your practice today; if you have an idea that is the answer to a common problem, then make a plan, form a budget, and get to work. But beware—these “passion projects” can become your darlings and take away energy that could be used for clinical practice.
Talk with your employer and define the non-negotiable tasks that have to be completed before you start working on new initiatives.
Find a job description for a guide
Use a LinkedIn profile or other job description as a guide toward building the skills you need for your dream job. Want to be a chief medical officer or VP of business development? There are hundreds of companies looking to fill those roles right now.
Find the basic and ideal qualifications needed for your résumé. Focus on the new responsibilities you’ll have and seek ways to take on new challenges in your current position.
Get another degree
In some cases, going back to school might be appropriate if you have no managerial experience. Getting an MBA, MPH, or MHA might help you on your career path, but they have their pros and cons. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree will teach you about accounting, economics, and operations management. This degree is best if you’re looking to start your own company or want general business expertise.
A Master of Public Health (MPH) degree will teach you about biostatistics, environmental health, and behavioral science. This degree is best if you’re leaning toward policy instead of management.
A Master of Health Administration (MHA) will teach you about the healthcare system, health information technology, and corporate strategy. This degree is best for a traditional administrative role like CMO or CEO. Research this route before you shell out the money for one of these degrees, but there is a lot of potential for motivated docs who hold additional credentials.
Volunteer your time when you find a cause to support
Everyone is looking for free labor. Start by taking on easy but time-consuming tasks that will free up other employees. Build relationships with your co-workers, customers, colleagues, and business partners. Once they realize you’re the real deal and here to stay, they’ll start including you in more important tasks. No matter what the job, always deliver a “wow” experience.
Many chiropractors are risk takers who enjoy competition and entrepreneurship. But sometimes even good investments don’t pan out.
Advanced education won’t always transfer to business expertise. If nonclinical work fails to develop, you can always fall back on plan A: Start or join a practice and focus on why you became a chiropractor in the first place—to help as many people as possible.
For further information
Randy Thompson, DC, is a 2016 graduate of New York Chiropractic College. Thompson enjoys the challenge of effectively communicating research for practical use and turning satisfied patients into passionate advocates. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/RandyThompsonDC.
- Chiropractic Economics. “Salary and Expense Survey.” (2011 – 2016). https://www.chiroeco.com/magazine/surveys. Updated June 2016. Accessed Nov. 2016.
- Gamlin R. “Young doctors are jumping ship to non-clinical roles.” Medical Economics., from http://medicaleconomics.modernmedicine.com/medical-economics/news/young-doctors-are-jumping-ship-non-clinical-roles?page=0,0. Published Feb. 2016. Accessed Oct. 2016.
- Goodall AH. “Physician-leaders and hospital performance: is there an association?” Social science & medicine. 2011;73.4: 535-539.