“THE ASSOCIATESHIPS FROM HELL”
by Peter G. Fernandez, D.C.
The 5 types of associateships to avoid…and why.
Becoming an associate doctor is not a demeaning career move.
Trying to open a new practice when you or your finances are not
ready…is. Being an associate should be an honorable, rewarding
and learning experience. You will hit net profit your first week
in practice (your paycheck), you will work fewer hours, and you
will have much less responsibility and stress than if you had
your own practice. For example, an associate's main functions
are to diagnose, adjust and occasionally do some paperwork.
These tasks are the easiest part of any doctor's workday. Being
an associate is easier and it's profitable.
I'm sure you have heard stories about "Associateships from
Hell," associates who were taken advantage of, paid "slave
wages," etc. While these types of associateships occur, they can
be avoided. This article will explain what you should look for in
an associateship, what you should accept and what you should
reject. I was an associate for three years and had a great boss and
mentor. I owe the majority of my success to him. Just as I was
able to find an "Associateship from Heaven," the next article in
this series will show you how to find yours.
doctor’s overhead, or starting your own practice in someone else’s
facility. The following scenarios are brief descriptions of some
of the various types of “associateships.”
Should you become an associate?
An associateship is appropriate:
» If you are insecure and unsure of your skills in finding and
» If you've declared bankruptcy, have a terrible credit rating
and no alternate way of getting the money needed to start a
practice. Continue in an associate position until you have
corrected your credit problems and saved enough money
to start your practice.
» If you're looking for specialized knowledge, i.e., if you want
to learn the flexion distraction technique and have the
opportunity to practice with
Dr. James Cox, the originator
of the technique, you'd be
wise to do so. You'll learn
ten times more about the
technique by working for
him than you ever would by
This type of associateship occurs when an established doctor
pays a junior doctor $1,500-$2,000 a month to do as he is told.
The junior doctor is not given any opportunity or incentive to
increase his salary. The junior doctor is basically a “gofer” or
a “flunky”. Of course, this type of relationship fails quickly. If
you are offered an associateship like this, pass on it.
Starting a practice in someone
else’s office is a pseudo-partner-
ship, and pseudo-partnerships do
If your motive to become an associate is not supported by any
of these three criteria, you are better advised to hire an experienced a consultant to teach you how to successfully start and
run your own practice.
There Are 5 types of associateships
The word "associate" is defined many different ways by chiropractic professionals. It can mean employment, sharing another
Sometimes, an established doctor practices Monday, Wednesday and Friday and wants a junior doctor to practice Tuesday,
Thursday and Saturday. Or, the established doctor practices in the
mornings and wants a junior doctor
to practice in the afternoons. Most
time-sharing relationships blow up
due to the following reasons:
» The doctors are in competition
with each other. When you are
in competition with your partner
(this is a pseudo-partnership) the
partnership won’t last.
» Time restraints restrict practice growth.
When the junior doctor’s practice fills up, he will attempt to
encroach on his pseudo-partner’s time or, if the established
doctor’s practice grows and he needs the extra practice
time, he’ll encroach on the junior doctor’s time. Either
way, the junior doctor will be thrown out.
» There's no managerial strength in a time-sharing practice.
Managerial strength is what builds large practices. In a
time-sharing scenario, you've got two doctors with a 50-50
vote, no tie-breakers. It can't work.