What to Know Before Starting a Chiropractic Associateship

John Davila, DC, FICC
June 10, 2022

Reading time: 2 minutes

Closeup of two men shaking hands.

The path of becoming a chiropractic associate is common for many chiropractors — but it’s an opportunity with various outcomes. It can be a great long-term experience, or an excellent short-term situation where you learn and move on. On the other end of the spectrum, an associate position could leave you in a place where you’ve learned nothing — except maybe bad habits.

Before you make the decision to become an associate, consider two significant factors:

 1. What will your role be as a chiropractic associate?

When discussing your role and how much you’ll be paid, consider the negotiating points in your favor. For example: will you only be doing exams and/or adjusting current patients? Or will you bring in additional business through relationships, public speaking engagements and community outreach? If it’s the latter, you’re adding a lot of value, and should negotiate accordingly.

Pro tip:

Always have contracts reviewed by an attorney. In my experience, I’ve ended up spending less money on an attorney than what I would’ve lost in a bad business deal.

2. How will you get paid as a chiropractic associate?

The next important thing to consider is how you get paid. Here, the real question is whether you should be an employee or an independent contractor. My suggestion is you read the IRS rules on the difference between the two to see how you qualify. An employee has a portion of their payroll taxes paid by the employer and a contractor pays 100% of their own employment taxes.

Once again, your employment designation is based upon your situation and contract provisions, not based on the preference of your employer.

The Bottom Line: Be Ready for an Honest Conversation

These types of conversations with your employer about pay and contracts can sometimes feel uncomfortable for a new chiropractor. The lesson to learn here is to always be willing to take the right steps to protect yourself.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions during negotiations in order to set expectations or to understand why something you don’t understand is taking place.

If you take these steps, you can set up your time as a chiropractic associate to be successful for both you and the office you’ll be working at.

About the Author

John Davila, DC, FICC

Dr. Davila graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic and then ran 3 successful practices in South Carolina. Since 2000, Dr. Davila has been training doctors and staff on federal and state insurance compliance as well as working with several chiropractor colleges to improve compliance education. He is considered a foremost expert and has consulted for Axis Healthcare, Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, American Specialty Health Network, Colonial Life, and others. He also served on the American Chiropractic Association’s Medicare Advisory and Blue Cross Blue Shield Blue CHIP Committees.

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This document should not be construed as medical or legal advice and should not be construed as rules or establishing a standard of care. Because the facts applicable to your situation may vary, or the laws applicable in your jurisdiction may differ, please contact your attorney or other professional advisors if you have any questions related to your legal or medical obligations or rights, state or federal laws, contract interpretation, or other legal questions.

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