Blueprints for success

Blueprints for success

Recent graduates are building new practices with careful planning and hard work
Summer 2006


Groundbreaking graduates

Heather Wyant, D.C., Summerville, S.C.

Heather Wyant, D.C., didn’t know a single person the day she arrived in the South Carolina town of Summerville. A year later, Dr. Wyant is running a practice that sees approximately 250 visits a week in a building that she helped put up herself.
Dr. Heather Wyant

“I always knew that I wanted my own office,” she said. “My initial thought was to get my feet wet for a year in someone else’s practice.” However, after her preceptorship, Dr. Wyant believed that with the right training, she could go straight into running her own office.

So in September of 2004, three months after graduating from Palmer’s Davenport campus, she began an internship at what she believes is the third largest chiropractic practice in the U.S. Located in Naples, Florida, the practice is affiliated with the Teach the World About Chiropractic program, which coaches chiropractors on the best ways of reaching their goals.

“It’s a fantastic program for recent graduates who are motivated, but unsure how to open a new business,” said Dr. Wyant. “They help you through everything from how to lease office space, hire staff, train staff, do your books—pretty much everything above and beyond what you need to know to be a doctor.”

Five months after entering the program, Dr. Wyant was operating her own practice.

Up and running in six weeks

Although Dr. Wyant was new to Summerville, her plan for doing business there wasn’t. Through the help of her coaches in Florida, she had already negotiated a lease on her new property before she arrived there February 1, 2005. The next day, construction began on her practice. A month-and-a-half later, the doors to the new business opened.

While Dr. Wyant was busy building her office from scratch, she also was working on recruiting new patients. Her initial contacts were with community members including the town’s police and fire departments. Then she began holding health screenings at different events where she distributed information on chiropractic and her practice.

As a student, Dr. Wyant was president of several clubs and involved in numerous school activities, all the while working part-time. Now that she’s a chiropractor, there are no signs that Dr. Wyant plans to settle down. Along with being the team chiropractor for the Charleston Sandsharks, a semi-professional football team, she also conducts a lecture series at area churches on how to live a healthier life.

With one year of practice under her belt, Dr. Wyant recommends future practitioners get advice from those who are already successful chiropractors. “Don’t try to reinvent the wheel yourself,” she said.

“The freedom to practice how you want to practice and the freedom you want to build the patient base is yours,” she said. “It’s a matter of you just taking the lead and striving ahead toward your dreams.”

Carla LeClerc, D.C. and David LeClerc, D.C.

It didn’t take long for Carla LeClerc, D.C., to realize chiropractic was the right career for her. It just took a visit to her mother’s chiropractor.

“I went to one of her appointments, and the chiropractor explained what chiropractic was all about and I liked what I heard,” said Carla. “Something clicked in my head, and I just knew it was what I wanted to do.”

It also didn’t take long for Carla to realize that fellow student David LeClerc, D.C., was the right guy for her. Five days after David moved into a house that Carla was sharing with two other female classmates, she and David went out on their first date.

So it should come as no surprise that once Carla and David decided they wanted to operate their own practice, it was only a matter of months before their new office was open and accepting new patients.

From preceptorship to ownership

Before graduating from Palmer’s Davenport campus— Carla in February of 2005, and David in June of 2005—the two did their preceptorships and subsequently became associates at the same practice in Beverly, Mass. They chose Beverly because it was close to David’s hometown of Londonderry, N.H. It was also in Beverly where they chose to get married in September of that year.

While the LeClercs learned a lot from being associates, they knew in the back of their minds that their ultimate goal was to open their own practice. So during offhours they conducted research at their local library on areas in which they might want to locate a future business.

While the couple had initially planned on building or at least purchasing their new office, they ultimately decided that leasing was their best option. So after visiting 20 different addresses, they settled on a rental property in Westford, Mass., a suburb of Lowell, Mass., and Nashua, N.H.

Carla and David first became familiar with the responsibilities of owning a practice through practice management clubs at Palmer’s Davenport campus. However, the LeClercs believe most of what they needed to know about starting a practice they learned on their own.

“I don’t think you can be prepared for everything you’ll encounter in practice,” said David, adding that they didn’t know anything about negotiating a lease until they began working on the terms of the agreement for their new office.

Starting a practice while starting a family

In the midst of opening a new practice, the couple has been also busy with their son, Caleb, who was born in January of this year.

“He’s a really good baby,” said Carla. “He’s very pro-chiropractic.”

“He was our first patient,” joked David.

Growing their patient base has been topof- mind for Carla and David, who kept busy this spring marketing their practice to the community and by offering free health screenings. That was in addition to painting and fixing up their new office.

When asked what sort of suggestions they would offer to chiropractic students and recent graduates interested in opening their own practices, the LeClercs stated that determination is essential.

“You have to have the drive and passion to do it,” said Carla, and David agreed.

“It’s a tough world out there,” said David. “But if you focus on being a good chiropractor, you’ll be fine.”

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