Joining a Practice

An experienced female chiropractor shakes hands with a younger associating chiropractor.

Joining a Practice

New doctors often join practices that have already been established by other doctors. As with all of your options, there are pros and cons to this, depending on your own personal situation, goals and expectations. Salary is one concern that is likely top-of-mind for you. 

Most practices include bonuses and production incentives on top of a base pay level. The best situation to go into is to join a busy practice with a waiting list or a busy practice where the doctor wants to work fewer hours. Be aware that doctors may want you to join so you can build their practice for them.


Joining another practice can be a good option for new doctors for many reasons:

  • You’ll be able to learn the ins and outs of operating a business from a seasoned pro.
  • You can move to different geographic locations more easily. Once you’re established within in a community in your own practice, it’s harder to pick up and move.
  • You don’t have the expense of running your own practice.
  • It’s a great opportunity to learn, observe, and discover your own preferences for when you open your own practice someday, if that’s an option you’re considering.


When you talk to a hiring doctor about a new position, don’t forget that you’re interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you. Established doctors usually have a reason for hiring another doctor – often because they want to spread the work, or because they’re ready to expand their practice.

You want to make sure this professional relationship is in the best interests of your career and professional development plan. If you plan to get your start associating but open your own practice in five years, does this particular doctor and practice provide the opportunities and experience you need to accomplish that?

Here are some questions you may want to ask:

  • How will you be paid? What is the base salary? You can discuss a percentage, but it should be in addition to a base. How are additional percentages determined? Be sure you understand the determination process.
  • How often will you be paid? If you are on a percentage, you should receive a calculation of how the percentage was determined.
  • What happens if you are sick? Do you still get your base?
  • Who pays your malpractice insurance?
  • Do you get any holidays off?
  • What are your expected work hours?
  • Are you expected/required to stay with the practice a certain length of time (1 year, 3 years, etc.)?
  • Are you expected to recruit patients or just work in the office? Your work responsibilities should be explicit and complete.
  • Is the non-compete agreement reasonable?
  • Is the doctor willing to pay you for continuing education seminars, including travel expenses?

Associating can be a great fit for a young doctor. Just make sure you know your career goals, the goals of the hiring doctor, and your professional development plans before you commit. Also, remember before you sign an employment contract it's important to have your own attorney review. 

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