The next time you are in class, take a good look around you. Look at the faces of the people in your class. Someday these people will be your colleagues and fellow chiropractors out in the field. They will soon be scattered across the United States and the world, taking their place in the industry. It would be nice to have a large network of friends you can rely on when the time comes.
I am trying to expose a concept and principle that many chiropractors fail to realize until they are years into their practices. This concept is one that we develop for our own patients, but it can be expanded into almost all of the people we know in our personal and professional lives as well. This concept is developing relationships.
Once you graduate, the hope is to get into practice as soon as possible. You begin to develop relationships with your patients as you work to gain their trust and get them well. But equally important is the idea of developing working relationships and friendships with other chiropractors in your immediate and surrounding areas. This way, you develop a network of doctors who may be able to help you if the need arises.
No matter where you practice, there is a state-run chiropractic association. In some states, the association is further broken down into local chapters. Usually, these associations have local and statewide meetings where they bring chiropractors together for continuing education and social events. These are effective ways to meet other DCs in your area.
Having a local network of chiropractors also helps with finding a vacation doctor when you are away, helping you look for employees, (office staff, massage therapists, back office help, etc.) and getting advice on how to run an office. Another important benefit that comes from knowing the doctors in your area is that you can cross-refer patients. There are patients who come to you who may benefit from seeing a friend of yours with a particular specialty and vice versa.
If you can manage to keep in touch with some of your friends once they leave school, you can establish a network outside of your area. On many occasions I have been able to look in the National Directory of Chiropractic and refer a patient who is travelling or moving to a friend of mine in another state. Maintaining these relationships really works!
Aside from having a solid support system of chiropractors, I want you to get into the mindset of realizing how we work with the other healthcare disciplines. Patients that walk into your office are looking for guidance and help with their condition. Chiropractic works so well for so many ailments, but we are not the end-all and be-all. No profession or health discipline should be so arrogant to think that it can solve all of the world’s problems. You need to establish a network of other healthcare practitioners that you can turn to when you need help. Still a bit hesitant to the idea? MRIs, CT scans, lengthy supervised exercise sessions, acupuncture needles, surgical procedures, and prescription medication are just some of the things that our patients may need that we usually cannot provide.
You may want to establish connections with at least one of the following healthcare providers:
1) Massage Therapist
3) Physical Therapist
5) Medical Doctor, General Practitioner
6) Medical Doctor, Internist (Internal Medicine)
7) Medical Doctor, Orthopedist (may be different specialties in different body areas)
It is a very powerful tool to have these people at your fingertips. Many times during the course of a week, a patient will ask me for a referral and I can pull out their business card and/or the phone number and give it to them. The patient appreciates the referral because they know I am trying to do the best I can for them. The medical provider also appreciates the referral, and it keeps me in mind for making referrals back.
I want you to remember the big idea here. We are in the people business; and success as chiropractors is built upon effective communication and building trust. You will find that all of the hours you spent in school learning how to adjust the body help it become second nature. It is the relationships we build with our patients, colleagues, and professional community that allow us to continue to succeed in practice and in life. So put yourself out there and have fun.