Should You Become a Chiropractic Specialist or Generalist?

As a chiropractor, plotting your career path involves the choice to identify as a specialist or a generalist.
Specialization can potentially lead to higher pay and the ability to follow particular passions. Meanwhile, generalists are able to develop well-rounded skills. Generalists enjoy flexible career growth and are able to pursue expertise in a variety of areas.

So, which option is right for you? Let’s explore the pros and cons of becoming a specialist or generalist chiropractor.

The Pros and Cons of Specialization

Within the broader context of general healthcare, every chiropractor is at the very least a specialist in spine health and back pain. Some chiropractors choose to refine their practice by identifying with a more specific area of expertise.

Specialization may involve focusing on a certain type of patient (such as children or seniors), a certain type of ailment (such as neurological issues), or a certain ancillary discipline (such as nutrition).

Here are a few of the most common chiropractic specialties:

  • Sports chiropractic
  • Pediatric chiropractic
  • Rehab or occupational health chiropractic
  • Nutrition chiropractic
  • Chiropractic acupuncture
  • Chiropractic neurology
  • Soft tissue therapy

Zoning in on a specialty may involve extra training, nonstandard equipment, and a marketing approach that targets the desired patient group.
Here are the benefits and drawbacks of pursuing a specialty.

Advantages of Becoming a Chiropractic Specialist

As a specialist, you can focus your work and your continuing education on a chiropractic area that most interests you. Developing a unique area of expertise is personally fulfilling and may also bring professional prestige. If you develop a reputation as an expert in your area, this may open up opportunities such as teaching positions and public speaking engagements.

Specialists often demand higher pay, since their services are less common. Specialists can also build lucrative long-term relationships, such as a sports chiropractor whose practice becomes the go-to option for various local sports teams.

Downsides of Specialization

Specialization involves a major commitment and a degree of risk. Some specialties might suffer declining demand, based on shifting trends in healthcare, leaving specialists with less business than they hoped for.

Specialization may also require extra training and education, beyond what’s necessary for generalists. Depending on the specialty, you may also need to invest in expensive equipment that you wouldn’t need as a generalist.

The Pros and Cons of Generalism

A generalist chiropractor does not specialize in a certain area of chiropractic care. Nor do they focus their practice on treating a single specific patient group. Here are the pros and cons of identifying as a generalist.

Advantages of Being a Generalist Chiropractor

Generalists are well-rounded and positioned to market their services to broad groups of potential patients. A generalist can operate their practice flexibly, embracing new treatment ideas and healthcare trends as they come along.

A generalist can engage in specialized training and focus their practice in certain areas, but they aren’t limited to a single area of expertise.

Downsides of Generalism

Generalist chiropractors are often exposed to a great deal of regional competition. Without a specialty that equips them to market to certain patient groups, generalists may struggle to carve out satisfactory market shares.

Although this isn’t always the case, generalism is typically considered to have lower overall earning potential than specialization.

Specialist or Generalist, Which Role Is Best For You?

The choice to become a specialist or a generalist should be based on your unique strengths and preferences. If you’re considering pursuing a specialty, make sure that it’s a choice you’ll be comfortable with in the long term. Research the market demand for that specialty in your region.

You may choose to start your career as a generalist, developing well-rounded skills and testing out your aptitudes. In time, your path toward a certain specialty may become clear, based on the types of patients that you find yourself most enjoying working with.

Get More Insights for Your Chiropractic Career

At Aligned Mentoring for Chiropractors, we’re a team of coaches and trainers dedicated entirely to the chiropractic industry. Our approach is tailored to your career stage, professional goals, and unique strengths and challenges.

Over the past several decades, we’ve worked with over 10,000 practices. Last year, 65% of AMC members saw their practices grow by more than $100k.

To learn more, contact AMC today to schedule a no-pressure consultation with one of our team members.



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