If you’re getting ready to graduate, then you have survived many intense years in chiropractic school. They are likely to be the most powerfully focused and awe-inspiring years of your life. You’ve surely learned more about the human body, what animates it, and what heals it from the inside out than you ever imagined before starting.
But graduating, with everything you’ve learned in school, in the clinic, and for the national and state board exams, is only a beginning. Now what? How do you put all this knowledge, literally, into practice?
You may have the chance during the last two quarters to take some classes on practice building. If you are doing that now, take the classes seriously. This is the opportunity to begin, if you haven’t already, to envision. Take the time to write out your practice concept. Be as specific as possible – everything from the colors of the walls and carpet to how many patients you plan to see per week.
Writing things down takes them from your head and begins to put them into form. The clearer you are, the better chance they will manifest. And if things don’t work out the way you’ve envisioned, your notes can help you can go back and re-plan.
There are endless ways to build a practice and market yourself in your community. But what way is best suited to you? Stay true to yourself, your style, and the things that inspire you to get out of bed and treat your patients.
If you are not sure, ask for help. Talk to a trusted teacher. Visit as many chiropractors as possible. Ask if you can shadow them during their adjusting hours. Especially target chiropractors who practice the technique(s) you are drawn to.
Your path to chiropractic is a calling, and after you committed to it, there were specific steps you had to take to get into school, and then to graduate. The same is true for building your practice: Start early, and don’t wait until your last quarter. Starting in clinic is a critical opportunity. How you manage your time, techniques, and patient interactions will establish the patterns of how you practice after graduating.
If you want to run a three-hour marathon, you have to train yourself to run faster than a seven-minute mile. If you keep training for an eight-minute mile, you will never reach your goal.
So use your clinic time wisely.Â Get a chiropractic mentor. This is someone who has been in practice whom you admire and would like to emulate. Within my first year of practice, I was honored to meet one of the oldest practicing chiropractors in my area. He gave me his card and said, “Give me a call and we’ll have breakfast sometime.”
Later, during breakfast, he asked me why I had called him. I was surprised by the question, and said it was because he had invited me. It turned out that for years he had made a point of introducing himself to new chiropractors and welcoming them to the community. He said I was the first one to take him up on the offer.
I was glad I did. The opportunity to meet with him and hear his stories about his successes and struggles over his 30-some years of practice has been priceless to me. We still meet regularly about once a month. My practice and my life have benefited greatly from this.
Lastly, know there are going to be challenges no matter how clear your vision and planning. Use any setbacks as opportunities to fine-tune your practice activities and habits.
Ask yourself what “adjustments” you need to make, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As your patients heal from the inside out, so do you.
This is a time to ask yourself: “Have I been adjusted recently? Do I have a subluxation of my thinking, of my heart, of my spirit? Have I been practicing what I’ve been preaching to my patients?” These personal, internal questions can be difficult, yet their answers become powerful allies for your growth.
As a soon-to-be-graduating DC, you are to be congratulated on all your hard-earned accomplishments. Advice, if people are not ready to hear it, is rarely listened to. Yet, as you are about to start out in your own practice, considering the lessons above can make your path both smooth and successful.