Building a future together:

Connecting the chiropractic generations in active practice

Established chiropractors often (constantly) contact me looking for help finding associates. Because I work at a college, they hope I will pick out the best and the brightest young graduates and send them to work in their practice.

The established chiropractor sees their practice as the perfect opportunity for a young DC to learn how to practice. They are successful and comfortable and ready to work less hours and hopefully mentor in a new doctor in a win -win situation. They know how much work it took them to build this practice and they have a deep passion for what they have created, with years of investment and sacrifice.

Yet, once they start interviewing new grads the established chiropractors often become dismayed and confused. They see the new docs as greedy (asking for more money) and overly particular in what they want. They see the next generation as entitled.

What a new grad is looking for in an associateship in chiropractic?

New grads look at an associateship as an additional investment in their career. They are not expecting to “get rich” but they want to pick a good match, just like they did when they selected a chiropractic college.

New grads are looking to find a situation where they can get the specific training and experience they need to continue their personal path towards becoming an authentic and successful chiropractor and also a place where they can contribute and do great work for another doctor.

They want to work hard. They expect to work hard. They want to be responsible and learn. They realize that mentorship is very valuable and they want mentorship. They understand that they will need to compromise on things like location and pay in order to get hooked up with the right situation.


· Technique

· Practice style

· Area/Location

· Length of contract

· Pay



Associates are looking for the right fit. They are looking for a “match” that is much deeper than location and technique. Associates know that they are going to be expected to fill their schedule with patients and build the business that pays their salary. They want to make that happen which means they want to place themselves in a situation where they can see that they will be able to do that.

They are looking to find a good fit where they can build the business using your systems and techniques, represent your established brand authentically, and grow into a role where they are learning and stretching themselves while succeeding. They know they don’t know everything and need your help and mentorship. But they also love to collaborate and share the things they know (perhaps better than you) like social media and content creation or new ways to educate.

Mentor and matching elements associates are looking at:

· Chiropractic Philosophy

· Business philosophy

· Business systems

· Business brand identity and message

· Collaboration style

· Management style

· Teaching style (do you have a system, regular training sessions, do you want them to read and learn on their own or will you show them and practice with them?)


This is another complicated element. Associates want clarity on what they can do to succeed in your practice. They work hard when the goals are clear and they are able to work toward specific goals. They are concerned that many associates are treated like “indentured servants” with no clear path to growth beyond completing the contract. They want to be a valuable partner — not just another employee.

· What are you (business owner) looking for from them (associate)?

· What benchmarks and progress points will the associate be working toward? (They love gamification.)

· How will they work their way up — to more responsibility and more reward?

· Is there an option to buy in eventually? (Not all want this, but they do want clarity.)

· What happens when the contract is over? (How have other associates left?)


Graduates today are looking at the financials in new ways. Chiropractic student come out of school with some hefty debt and obligations. Their debt is NOT due to them buying a fancy car in school or wasting money on luxurious apartments. Most of the students I know live VERY thriftily and are much more conscious of minimizing debt than when I went to school 20 years ago.

Nevertheless, debt is high (most graduate with around $200,000 in debt from chiro school) and deferring student loan payments is generally a terrible idea financially. This means that the basic monthly expenses of a recent grad are more than most doctors looking to hire realize.

When students are focusing on money in the negotiation, it is not because they are greedy. It is because they are trying to figure out how to make ends meet. It is a sign that they are responsible. Do not discount the importance of this conversation. Be transparent and help them see why you are offering the pay you are offering and how hiring them will affect YOUR financials.

Also, factor in that young grads often have young families and child care expenses and you begin to see the urgency of the situation. It is not because they want to eat loads of avocado toast and buy a luxury car.

Basic needs of a recent grad:

Student Loan Payment $2,000 month

Rent (non-fancy) $500- 2,000 (depending on the area)

Additional cost of living $1500 month

How can they meet these essential costs of living — while in your associateship?

As we continue to transition from a profession made of boomers to a profession of millennials, we need to open our perspectives and our hearts to each other.

The established docs are learning a new skill set as they bring this generation into their practices. The established chiropractor was never taught how to successfully hire a associate and how to pass the torch. They are trying their best to make it a win-win.

The young (mostly millennial) grads are looking at the landscape in new ways and requiring new connections and agreements before they are ready to go all in with an established practice.

Together, these two perspectives to not make an impasse. In fact, the meeting of these two perspectives offers new opportunities to the chiropractic profession. I see chiropractic practices revitalized and growing with the partnerships happening between these generations everyday.

Hi. I’m Mary. I love storytelling, chiropractic, communication and marketing for millennials. And sailing. And coffee.

Press the ❤ below if you liked this story. It means a lot to me. Plus, it helps other people to discover this content.

I am the founder of The Art of Story Project, an online business for chiropractors. Right now I am building a new online product for The Millennial Chiropractor that will help you to action all that stuff you read above. My goal is to empower you and save you time and money as you build your business — all by decoding the old system and helping you rebuild a version that is right for you.

Do you want to stay in the loop? Click the link to get the Millennial Mindset PDF (a rad pdf with helpful tips) and then you will automatically be tagged as interested in The Millennial Chiropractor stuff — so you will get updates (and discounts) as I roll this new content out over the next few months. I’m looking for people exactly like YOU. If you are still reading — you are interested. There’s no catch (swearsy), so just get the pdf already.