If I could go back to the beginning of my career and give myself some advice, I would be tempted to not do it.
Looking back over the past 30 years however, there are some things that I think would have served me well. Here are five tips for the new chiropractor.
Your DC degree is a license to begin learning. Immerse yourself in continuing education. Not only will you be exposed to new ideas, techniques and technology, you will be exposed to other doctors that have traveled further down the path. They are a rich source of information, perspective and wisdom. Ask your new friends what they would have changed about the path they took, perhaps you can learn a lesson without making a painful mistake.
Fill your tool box
Chiropractic college has equipped you to treat patients, but you will continue to learn and grow over the years and be exposed to new techniques and tools. It’s a good idea to know more than one technique so you can address a variety of different patients.
There an adage that says, “If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” Keep things simple and add tools to complement your treatment philosophy as you grow and can pay for them.
Your personal experience with a particular technique, exercise program, nutrition and even custom orthotics will give you confidence when making recommendations to your patients. You have to believe in what you recommend.
Build your team
Surround yourself with talented people to help you in areas outside of your expertise. You are in business now, and learning on the fly can be expensive and stressful. And certain mistakes can be fatal to a business.
Develop a stable of mentors. Start shadowing other chiropractors in practice so you can see the flow of an office. Learn how they set up treatment plans and how they handle the financial side of a practice.
Your mentors have a team too, so find out who helps them with billing, coding, accounting and banking services. A good team can help you avoid making costly mistakes. Will Rogers once said, “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.” Take advantage of other people’s mistakes.
Do things that scare you
Get involved in some things that push you out of your comfort zone. Volunteer to be on a committee in your community or church and ask for opportunities to speak publically. Create your story for communicating the chiropractic message. People don’t know what you know so you are instantly an expert.
Write articles for a local health column in your community newspaper or ask to be a guest on a radio show. The public constantly needs to be educated about what you do. It is a never-ending process and one performed constantly by the most successful chiropractors.
Create multiple streams of revenue
As your practice grows, you will need additional staff to support the services you provide. You will get good at incorporating rehab, custom orthotics, nutrition and various other services, but it’s difficult to do it all by yourself and serve the number of people who need your help. Plan to grow and build a team.
By providing services that compliment your adjustments, you provide a more complete health care experience and bolster the health of your business. It’s a business; treat it like one.
To summarize 30 years of experience for your benefit, the key word is study. Study your craft, study your colleagues and study business. If you focus on these things, you can write your own definition of success.
Brian Jensen, DC, has been a chiropractor for more than 30 years. He has lectured at over 20 chiropractic colleges, teaches continuing education seminars in the U.S. and abroad, and is a frequent speaker for Foot Levelers Inc. He has authored numerous articles, been involved in chiropractic research, and has appeared on radio and television. He currently practices in Salem, Virginia.