There are not a lot of people out there that cannot relate to having between 150K-200K in student loan debt while trying to go out and start a practice, while not being completely sure of your skills. In my experience, I ended up working as an independent contractor at a successful clinic. When you start into practice, you think you are going to go out and change the world, little do you know that it is not that easy.
The “business class” that you take in school tells you to go out and join your local chamber of commerce, be involved and get out and be seen in the community. They don’t tell you that just because you are visible doesn’t mean those people become patients. About a three months into practice you realize that this is not going to be as easy as they portrayed in school. I thought I was doing all of the right things, treating the few patients that I had with care and getting them as well as I could.
After a few months of working, I started to realize that the harder I worked the more money the owner of the clinic would make. As you will figure out throughout this blog, I am very much a numbers person. I started to crunch the numbers because I was not happy with the situation that I was in and my wife would be the first person to tell you that. I had conversations with the clinic owner in hopes of changing the percentage, it was eventually changed to a more favorable rate but ultimately did not work out.
The clinic that I was working in was moving towards more internal medicine and supplements. Come to find out this is not how I wanted to practice and after about six months, I started to think about leaving. I had done the math about how many patients I was going to need to see to make it work on my own. The main hang up in the equation was that I had a non-compete clause in the contract that I signed. This is what sparked my interest in setting up a clinic that was outside of the radius so that I would have some income just in case I was to get sued for a breach of contract. This is where the Arnold clinic comes into the picture, but I will get into that at a later post.
I spoke to attorneys and was assured that the likelihood of me losing a lawsuit for a non-compete clause would be rare, but that I would need to have the money available to fight the suit just in case it came along. My wife and I started scouting potential sites (I refer to a lot of the decisions that I have made in my career as “we” because Kristina has been by my side from the beginning and has been very supportive of decisions that have been made). We found a location in downtown Kearney and was told that I better have everything lined up and ready to go when I handed in my notice. Normally with independent contractors, when you hand in a notice that you are leaving, the clinic makes you leave that same day and not to return, but this was not the case. I worked the final month of my contract, but was not able to bring patients with me when I decided to leave.
The one thing that I had going for me at the time in 2013 was that I had saved enough money that I did not need to take out a business loan to start my practice. I started with very basic equipment and a simple exam table, I am certified to perform DOT/CDL Physicals and needed this type of table in order to accomplish what I needed to get done.
As it turns out, I never ended up having to fight a lawsuit for a breach of contract, opened up a satellite office in Arnold and have had a successful practice in Kearney since the beginning. If I would not have left when I did, Kristina and I have determined that I would have left the chiropractic profession as I was not happy with the job that I had and with the profession in general. While I took a decrease in income after the first year, my sanity and happiness was much better. The learning lesson in this: do what makes you happy and run with it. Now I know that sounds cliché, but I am now a true believer in this thinking, your happiness and satisfaction with your job translates into how you are portrayed to the community and your patients which is highly beneficial when building a practice.
If there are any questions, please feel free to contract me and I will be glad to give more insight.