There are any number of books, websites, articles, and seminars that are all dedicated to helping you improve your practice.
Such guides to helping you grow your practice include everything from marketing your services, to setting up your first practice, to expanding your menu of services or your client base, to bringing in complementary therapies such as massage therapy or acupuncture. Of course, each of these topics is vital for helping you not only have a chiropractic practice that is sustainable, but one that can actually thrive and grow.
A practice, with just the right volume and mix of returning and new patients to provide you with the income you want, is absolutely a laudable goal. However, let’s be honest. You chose to become a DC for reasons other than simply to make money, didn’t you?
The reason that you were probably drawn to pursue a chiropractic degree was the opportunity for personal growth by making a connection with your patients and helping them finding their way back to health. That’s worth more than just your bottom line to you, isn’t it? So how can you measure and increase your personal growth in your practice, without sacrificing your bottom line?
Quantifying the quality of personal growth
Research on measuring personal growth is difficult because of the inherent problem of trying to quantify something that is measured in terms of its quality. However, an interesting article published in the Western Journal of Medicine undertook the challenge of using a qualitative survey of personal growth among medical doctors to measure personal growth.1
A group of 34 physicians answered an open-ended, essay-style survey about their experiences of personal growth and how these experiences related to their professional careers. All of the essays were coded into three main categories that followed a linear progression, starting with powerful experiences, followed by helping relationships, and then introspection.
The researchers found that this linear progression of categories were important antecedents to an outcome of personal growth that could positively affect a physician’s practice of medicine.1 Examples included positive changes in work values or goals; improved connectedness with patients and colleagues; and improved productivity at work.
The researchers concluded, “These findings are consistent with theoretic and empiric adult learning literature and could have implications for medical education and practice. They need to be confirmed in other physician populations.”1
Growing your practice with a personal touch
If we look at the results from the article in the Western Journal of Medicine, it seems rather obvious that DCs who work on their personal growth may be able to measure that, in terms of the growth of their practice. What are some examples of how your personal growth can lead to measurable practice growth?
Finding your patients’ passions: Charting a patient’s medical history is a good initial step in working up a treatment plan. However, personalizing that charting will have further benefit in terms of seeing your patient as a whole person. For example, if a new patient comes to see you as a result of an injury they sustained from a collision with another cyclist during a bike race, this can be the perfect opportunity to not only learn about the events that led to the collision, but about your patient’s passion for bike racing. If you deepen your connection to your patient by understanding their love of racing, you can then use that personal growth experience to customize a treatment plan that is geared toward their individual motivations. This improves both the patient’s odds of complying with treatment and your bottom line.
Getting back to your roots: Think back to when you were starting in chiropractic school. You probably had all sorts of idealistic dreams about volunteering your services in times of crisis. Now that you have a successful practice, it might be the perfect opportunity to make those dreams a reality. With the recent hurricanes, fires and earthquakes that have displaced so many people, including the elderly and hospital patients, your services could be in great demand. You certainly will experience personal growth from knowing that you helped evacuees in their time of need. At the same time, your experiences as a volunteer may open you up to being even more compassionate and caring toward your patients.
Personal growth experiences can give you a sense of pride in your accomplishments, provide you with a fresh perspective from which to view your patients, and open you up to becoming more compassionate and caring. However, such experiences don’t only exist in your personal life. Once you incorporate them into your professional sphere, you will start to see measureable improvements in your chiropractic practice.
- Kern DE, Wright SM, Carrese JA, et al. (2001). Personal growth in medical faculty: A qualitative study. Western Journal of Medicine, 175(2), 92–98.