I have had the opportunity to speak to chiropractic students of all backgrounds and with variousÂ motivations for entering the profession.
And often, students ask me, “What should we know as we start out in practice?” Which is understandable””I will never forget the stress that comes with transitioning from a student to a practicing doctor.
The feeling can be overwhelming, because there is still so much to learn upon graduating. Even more daunting, students live in a world of structure and tests, only entering into a clinic environment toward the end of their education career, when they get a chance to see patients and apply what they know. As helpful as this may be, without a true residency or rotation program in community clinics, the learning experience is limited. As a result, feelings of fear set in.
Learn to learn
This is why you want to gain as much clinical experience as possible. Shadow doctors, attend conferences, listen to audiobooks. Gain as much influence as possible. Own what feels important and scratch the rest.
As a student, I rarely turned down an opportunity to learn more. Don’t limit your exposure to chiropractic offices, lecturers, and classes, either. Read business books from leaders in all fields, visit a rehab facility with physical therapists, medical doctors, and fitness centers. Being a student allows you the maximum time for this type of exploration.
These activities will both calm your fears and build a foundation for growth. Students are entering into a world of great responsibility partnered with patient confusion about what chiropractic is. With so much conflicting advice, students need to have a clear vision for the future.
Spend some time, especially while you are still in school, performing self- assessments of the type of doctor you want to be and, most importantly, why you want to be a chiropractor. Spend time role playing and visualizing the flow of your ideal office day. These efforts are the building blocks of a business plan, whether you’re planning to open your own practice or work as an associate.
For example: If your passion is working with children, it wouldn’t make sense to take a job in a geriatric community, even if the salary is good. The passion that drives you daily also helps you overcome the challenges that are bound to arise in your career.
Students also ask, “How can I see patients if I don’t know everything when I graduate?” It is more crucial to embrace what you don’t know and be confident in the fact that no one can know it all.
Confusion and doubt whenÂ treating a patient may lead to ordering an advanced image, such as an MRI, whichÂ then yields a proper diagnosis. The doctors who think they need to knowÂ Â it all will often try to replace doubt with premature answers. This is a problem in the healthcare system as a whole and exists across all professional disciplines.
Instead of trying to know everything, it’s better to embrace the questions that arise in patient care and strive to ask more, and also reach out to your peers and industry partners for support. In this way, doctors educate one another along the way in the best interests of the patients.
Step by step
We have many underinsured and noninsured patients making their way into our offices and searching for answers. Our approach must be one of responsible critical thinking and proper referring of patients who don’t respond to our care to other doctors.
As a student entering into a new and exciting world of patient care, you will find it to be scary, but your opportunities to make an impact are enormous.
When I felt most overwhelmed as a student, I would remind myself to just take it one step at a time.
Nicole L. Ingrando, DC, is the president of North Orlando Spine Center and the executive director of the Center of Recovery and Exercise (CORE). She is also a faculty member of the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. She can be reached through northorlandospine.com and coreflorida.com.