How Associate Osteopaths Can Work With Their Principal

How to get your osteopathy principle onside as an associate. Learn how associate osteopaths can work with their principal to grow their patient list.
how asssociate osteopaths can work with their principal

How associate osteopaths can work with their principal 

You’re really enjoying working as an associate in a fantastic osteopathic clinic but your patient numbers are going down. Then you decide to get some marketing ideas together, but your principal isn’t onside and isn’t working with you as an associate. Find out the common causes and effective solutions so you can get your osteopathy principal onside as an associate.

As an associate osteopath, no doubt you’re keen to think of ways to improve your own reputation and see more patients. Associate osteopaths face several different obstacles to overcome, with each one having its own unique solution.

Do you see yourself in any of these?

  • You don’t ever see your principal, so you never get a chance to talk to them.
  • You don’t feel confident enough to speak about your ideas.
  • You’ve spoken to them, but your ideas are dismissed.
  • Your ideas are welcomed, but you don’t know how to take action on them.
  • You have ideas, but need some financial backing to see if they work.

There are many scenarios, too many to cover, however, if you’d like to ask me about your particular situation, fill out the contact form. We’d be happy to help.

Any of the above situations essentially leave you stuck between a rock and a hard place. Please don’t feel over-concerned. Try to understand that you’re not the only one, hundreds of associates feel similar.

I’ve got some answers for you to get you started.


This isn’t an attack on any principals. Any of the solutions presented below are only my opinion and are lined with maximum respect. They’re not to be taken as either the right or wrong thing to do.

As always, if you’re seeking any help or further free resources, please feel free to contact us.

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You never see your principal

There are plenty of reasons why you may not see your principal. The chances are that they’re too busy treating their patients, or they work different days to you. The point is, you may feel disconnected, and before you know it, months have gone by since you last spoke.

Instead of waiting and hoping to get 5 minutes of their time, send them a text, email, or call them explaining you’d like to have a 15-minute chat about how you can improve your performance as an associate osteopath.

Hopefully, that gets your foot in the door.

From there, you have can an honest discussion about how you’re doing and say, “I feel like these quick sessions really help me to grow and learn. Can we have them once a month?”

To maximise the time you have with them, write down a list of things you’d like to promote yourself as an associate, letting the public know that it’s not just the principal who works there.

You don’t feel confident to talk about your ideas

Discussing your ideas can be a daunting task, so if you lack confidence, you can see if your osteopath friends think they are good or need improving.

Create a group chat on Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to bounce ideas off each other. This will allow your confidence to grow then you can feel positive about how to pitch your ideas to your principal, getting them onside.

If you don’t feel like you have anyone you can trust to give you constructive criticism, fill out the contact form, and I’ll be happy to help.

Remember that osteopaths are extremely kind-hearted people because of the nature of our job. Therefore, when you’re talking about your marketing ideas, be honest with them about your feelings. No doubt, they will reassure you and help you better understand how to make your plans possible.

Your ideas are dismissed

Okay. This is a tricky one. Let me start by saying that one of the best bits of advice I’ve ever been given as an associate was by my previous principal Mark McWilliam who told me: “you’ve got to be patient for patients.”

It’s essential to remember that leaving your job 9 times out of 10 isn’t the answer, and it’s important to have a transparent discussion with your principal before you make any career-changing decisions.

I’ve spoken to many associates who’ve had a tough time finding their feet, not seeing enough patients, or not improving as a practitioner. Remember that the osteopath you’re working for has created a clinic that’s successful enough to hire associates in the first place, so their advice is valuable.

Therefore, it’s important to reverse engineer the problem by asking yourself why your ideas are being dismissed in the first place. Then, try to develop solutions that will be beneficial to both parties.

“What methods have worked for you in the past?”

If your ideas are being declined, start by asking your principal this question.

Associates going through getting their osteopathy principal onside have told me that this question is an effective starting point to get the principal thinking. Usually, the conversation opens up and flows from there.

Take that chance to really listen to what your principal has to say, then start to develop ideas together.

Your ideas are welcome, but you don’t know how to take action

This is a widespread issue where associates feel strange about bringing in marketing ideas into someone else’s business.

When getting your osteopathy principal onside as an associate it’s important to keep in mind that your idea has been approved, so put your plan into action as if it’s your own clinic.

However, if you think you’re overstepping the mark, ask your principal as you go along. If you’re getting the impression that they essentially don’t care, and to do what you like, read between the lines.

You have ideas, but you need money to see if they work

You’re essentially asking if the clinic will pay for some of your marketing ideas. Before you ask, you need to know the actual cost of your plans or as accurately as possible.

Get your thoughts and costings down on paper and order them from the cheapest to most expensive. Then take the same ideas and order them in how effective you think each one will be. Once you’ve done that, please take it to your principal and go through each one. Remember your principal is helping you grow your patient list, which is beneficial for both you and them.

Fair play to your principal if they back your ideas with their own cash. Make sure to buy them a birthday and Christmas present this year.

Personally, I’d go in with the expectation of being rejected, and that’s okay. You’re just going to have to find some super cost-effective and free ways to work on.

One extremely effective method is to work on how you communicate with your patients about how often you think they will need to return. Do yourself a favour and get rid of “let’s just see how it goes” from your vocabulary as it does nothing for nobody.

Under-servicing is a significant problem in osteopathy. Remember that it’s your job to give your patients the best advice to depend on how they present and your expert knowledge. Patients need clarity, and you can provide this by giving them an idea of what to expect between now and their next appointment. Also, you can provide them with a few short-term goals to achieve to ensure they stay on track. Additionally, this will instil confidence in the patient with you.


Being an associate osteopath can be a tough gig, especially if your principal isn’t what you expected. Don’t worry. You can do several things to get your osteopathy principal onside as an associate and start working with them to grow your patient list. There’s light at the end of the tunnel.

Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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