Wednesday, March 1, 2017

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Despite being over a hundred-year-old discipline, chiropractic medicine continues to grow and evolve. Today some of those changes are taking place in practice, and the amount of compensation chiropractic physicians (DCs) are now bringing in as a result.

The latest salary and expense survey from Chiropractic Economics shows that significantly more DCs are choosing to work in multi-disciplinary and integrated settings than in previous years. Depending on what type of setting DCs work in, they may be bringing in significantly more compensation than average.

What are multidisciplinary and integrated settings?

As defined in the Chiropractic Economics survey, multidisciplinary and integrative settings differ from solo DC practices because they employ other health practitioners to help provide more comprehensive treatments of their patients. A multidisciplinary clinic staffs at least one other complementary or alternative medicine practitioner. This can include a massage therapist, acupuncturists, and other kinds of specialists. An integrated clinic has both a DC and a medical doctor on staff.

In the Chiropractic Economics report, over half of the DCs surveyed reported that they operated in a multidisciplinary clinic compared to 29 percent last year. About a quarter responded that they work in an integrated practice — up significantly from 6 percent the previous year.

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The reasons for this growing shift becomes more clear in other parts of the survey. DCs that worked in these non-solo settings reported various benefits.

DCs in integrative settings earn more money on average.

The survey found that DCs working in integrated practices or multidisciplinary clinics make better total compensation on average per year: DCs in multidisciplinary clinics make $135,900 per year compared to $121,900 for solo-clinic DCs. Chiropractic physicians in integrated practices make even more at $184,000 per year.

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These significant differences in compensation may be attracting more DCs to these kinds of practices.

DCs at integrative settings bring in more in billings.

This growing shift and the increased total compensation may be due to higher amount in billings these settings see on average.

In the Chiropractic Economics survey, multidisciplinary clinics reported an average of nearly $100,000 more in billings compared to solo-DC practices while integrated health care practices reported about $290,000 more on average than solo-DC practices. As a result, integrative practices saw the highest collections of $628,000 compared to $420,000 for multidisciplinary and DC-only practices of $302,000, according to the survey.

Integrative settings bring in more new patients.

Patients may be beginning to see the benefits of integrated or multidisciplinary settings.

The survey reports that integrated settings saw an average of nearly nine new patients a week compared to the seven new patients seen per week at solo practices. Multidisciplinary clinics also saw slightly more new patients with an average of eight per week.

While the differences are small each week, added up over the year, these minor differences can be significant. They may also be indicative of new trends in chiropractic care and the type of modalities patients may be interested in.

Chiropractic medicine remains the most popular treatment at DC practices, but patients are also seeking other treatment modalities. Among the most popular beside chiropractic medicine is massage therapy, nutrition, physical therapy, and exercise programs, according to the survey.

Like their patients, DCs seem to be making the shift toward more integrative care. As the chiropractic field continues to grow (17 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) this is one of many ways DCs can continue to bring in more earnings and also stay relevant to their patient’s health needs.

Specialization in specific fields allow DCs to stand out.

Specializations and advanced training in the field are a large reason why certain chiropractic physicians are able to justify more in earnings. National University has an excellent postgraduate department where students are welcome and encouraged to take additional courses that provide specialty skills for future practice including the following popular areas of specialization:

Sports medicine – Many DCs get specialization in sports medicine and exercise science, such as Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP) offered through National University’s postgraduate department. This certification allows DCs to treat sports injuries, enhance athletic performance, and promote physical fitness. Today, NFL and MLB teams have chiropractors on staff. Olympic players and teams seek chiropractic treatments during tournaments.

At National University, our faculty includes experts like Carlo Guadagno, DC, CCSP®, ICCSP, FICC, who was recently named the American Chiropractic Association Sports Council's (ACASC) 2016 Sports Chiropractor of the Year. His success in the field of sports chiropractic has allowed him to treat Olympic athletes at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Chosen from hundreds of applicants, Dr. Guadagno was part of an international team of just 16 DCs who were placed in the Olympic Village Polyclinic.

Women’s health – National University’s broad-scope curriculum gives students a solid foundation as a physician. The postgraduate department offers continuing education courses in women's prenatal and postpartum health for chiropractic physicians. Courses include topics such as healthy fertility and conception, manual treatment of pregnant patients, postpartum pelvic floor evaluation, rehab, and others.

Internal Medicine - Chiropractic physicians use functional medicine to treat a variety of internal conditions such as small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). This condition is a hot topic in the medical community. It involves an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine, which can be the cause of several common diseases including irritable bowel syndrome, diabetes, scleroderma, Crohn's disease, and others.

National University is currently hosting an integrative conference on the topic on March 25 at the Lombard campus with multiple leading experts.

Other chiropractic specialties include nutrition, pediatric care, orthopedic, acupuncture, rehabilitation, occupational health, and more.

DCs with multiple degrees offer more treatment options.

As a solo-practicing chiropractic physician, one option to increase offerings to patients is to expand your credentials. Many DCs also earn additional degrees in naturopathic medicine, oriental medicine or acupuncture, allowing them to expand career options and increase earning potential.

National University offers programs for doctor of naturopathic medicine, master of science in acupuncture, master of science in oriental medicine and certification in massage therapy. Students at National University also have the unique advantage of earning several health care degrees all on one campus — saving both time and money, as opposed to pursuing the degrees at separate times or at separate institutions.

At NUHS, we believe in bringing together professionals from a broad range of medical specialties for the benefit of patients and the health care industry as a whole. With a growing trend toward integrated settings, National University offers a campus dedicated to integrative medicine in order to better prepare students for the future of health care.

Learn more about becoming a chiropractic physician with the guide below!

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Posted by Dr. Christopher Arick

Christopher Arick, DC, MS, is the assistant dean of the chiropractic medicine program at National University of Health Sciences. He oversees various academic elements of the program, including curriculum development and evaluation along with interactive learning between the Florida and Illinois sites. Previously, he had been on the faculty at the National University of Health Sciences - Florida site since 2012. He received his chiropractic degree from National University in 2005 and practiced for six years in Indiana before teaching.