Chiropractic associates are fully trained graduates from chiropractic schools who are taken into the practice of an established chiropractor. Often, the idea is to allow the new chiropractor to function as an employee of the practice as he or she builds on the skills acquired in preparation for a career in chiropractic care. While working as a chiropractic associate, the novice chiropractor has the opportunity to learn the essentials of operating a chiropractic care center, begin the process of building a clientele, and possibly be groomed to take over the practice when the current owner chooses to retire.
Working as a chiropractic associate is very different from opening a new practice. The associate has the opportunity to step into an environment where the business already has an established clientele and a fully functional facility. There is no need to secure a business license or acquire space or equipment in order to begin offering chiropractic services.
There is also the matter of an immediate steady income, since a chiropractic associate is considered an employee of the practice. The pay structure may be set as an hourly rate or the associate may receive a salary. In return, the associate agrees to be in the office at set hours each day of operation and to observe all the rules that apply to any other employee of the firm.
A chiropractic associate also has the benefit of having a mentor during these first few years of his or her career. The chiropractor who owns the practice can help the new professional relate what was learned during training to real life situations that impact the lives of real patients. The associate also has to learn many of the little things that enhance the practical knowledge, such as how to interact with patients, the questions to ask in order to draw information from a patient, and in general how to operate a practice to best advantage. For many, working as an associate is a logical bridge between the formal education and eventually owning a practice.
In some cases, the chiropractic associate will remain with a practice for several years, then move on to open his or her own practice. This often happens once the associate has gained confidence and experience in the operation of a business, and also has become proficient with relating to patients. At other times, the associate is made a full partner in the practice and eventually assumes complete control once the other partner has chosen to retire. In either instance, the associate has the opportunity to control the direction of his or her career, making it possible to provide chiropractic therapy in any type of work setting that is considered the most desirable at that point in time.