Sure the treatment, the rhetoric and the confidence are all important in retaining patients. But if we’re going to spread the word of what we can do as a discipline and keep patients talking to others for referrals, then we have to be professional and healthy.
Here’s a true story: I knew a doctor that was beyond reproach in his clinical skills. He was friendly, accurate with his diagnosis and caring. However, he never had the practice he always wanted. It was due entirely to his demeanor and appearance. His personal grooming habits were non-existent. His fingernails were always long and looked as though he had just plowed 40 acres earlier in the day. His hair appeared damp or oily and didn’t look like it had seen a comb in years. I mentioned it on several occasions and was told by him that nobody really cared about his appearance or his own issues as long as he took care of theirs. I cared, and apparently so did many of his former patients. How was he going to resolve our health problems if he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, even resolve his own?
He wasn’t even remotely practicing what he was preaching, which was that “excess is bad, movement is healing, stability is good, health is a gift that is within us, and environment can affect that gift.” I know you may think of hygiene as a no-brainer, but this is part of the unspoken basic tenets of most of our healthcare disciplines. Be sure to wash your hands before treatment and exhibit a lifestyle that reflects the premise that you espouse. I know there are exceptions to every rule, but healthcare providers, must follow these simple rules to maintain a healthy image for the patients. After all, patients confide in us and want to tell us sensitive things that may offer a key to their ailments. So you can see how important looking healthy is to your first impression with your new patients as well as maintaining credibility with your current patients. Patients are more likely to follow your advice for living a healthy lifestyle if they can see you are doing it too.
Looking the part and being clean and healthy shouldn’t be just a personal issue, but instead it should just be a sign of respect. Respect for yourself and your patients. How do you instill confidence and trust and caring if you can’t even care for or respect yourself? Listen, I’m not just talking about wearing shorts, flip-flops and Hawaiian shirts to work, or believing you have to have a Superman physique. I’m talking about exhibiting the very principles of what healthcare really means. You are trying to restore or enhance the lifestyle of everyone who walks, or crawls, through your door-including yourself.
If you want to retain your patients and have the opportunity to change their lives, then at least appear to understand your own ideologies, values and philosophies of health that you developed during your chiropractic educational experience. You can then concentrate on the patients’ efforts to improve.
We, as a profession, genuinely desire to help all that we can to influence the coming shift in our current healthcare system, to appeal to those who haven’t been exposed to chiropractic, and to let it be known to all that health is not just an absence of disease.