How satisfying is your practice? Does it often stress you out? Frustrate your ambitions? Compromise your ideals? Give you the “blahs”?
I’ve met a surprising number of chiropractors who, as the phrase goes, are “looking good — but feeling bad.” Something’s missing. Their practices are not as rewarding as they once were, or not as satisfying as they had hoped at this stage of their lives.
Fortunately, if you are not happy with your professional life, you have options. You can change your environment, your hours, your specialty or even your location (from across town to across country). You can limit your practice to those areas of care you find most satisfying or learn new ones; see more or less managed-care patients, take on an associate, go off on your own; join a multi-disciplinary clinic or take a salaried job. You can do part-time teaching or consulting. The possibilities are practically endless.
But where do you start if you’re unhappy with your practice? What changes do you make to help you get more of what you want from it?
The First Step
Career counselors advise the first step is to clarify your basic values, those qualities you consider most worthwhile and important. Often this type of evaluation results in the discovery that “your” values aren’t yours at all. They’ve been imposed by others telling you what you “should” do or the kind of practice you “should” have. Sometimes, you just get caught up in what’s happening at the moment — and may lose sight of the big picture.
One New Jersey chiropractor realized he was “chained” to a high-volume, low fee, heavily advertised practice at which he was an associate and which he had come to despise. Yet, it was difficult for him to leave because it meant going out on his own, starting over, and initially, at least, getting by on a greatly reduced income. I call this dilemma the “golden handcuff syndrome.”
After rank-ordering his priorities, the doctor decided to take the risk and make a fresh start in a more professional, less hectic, personally satisfying type of practice. He’s not (yet) making the income he previously was — but he’s happier than he’s been in years.
Being in a practice that’s in conflict with your priorities — one that’s all wrong for you — will, in time, lead to professional burn-out.
Mr. Levoy, a management consultant based in Roslyn, N.Y., has conducted more than 2,500 seminars for health-care professionals. Those seminars have included programs for the American and Canadian chiropractic associations and numerous state and provincial chiropractic associations.