As you read this article, I realize that you could be near the beginning, middle or end of your chiropractic education. Regardless of what quarter or trimester you are currently in, the topic I am going to discuss pertains to you right here and right now.
We are talking about developing your social networking and communication skills, since these will be extremely important as you move through school and into practice. I know you are in the phase of your life where you are still in school, sitting in classes, taking notes, performing lab exercises, taking tests and getting vacations in between quarters or trimesters. Let me remind you that real life is nothing like this.
The way you choose to have your practice can be as structured or as relaxed as you want it. The type of chiropractor you eventually become is completely up to you. You must remember that as you find out who you are and how you will someday call yourself a doctor, it’s important to have patients walking through the doors.
I want you to ask yourself: Are you are doing all that you can to improve your social and communication skills? I do not mean hanging out with your friends after school or on weekends. I am talking about going above and beyond the classroom requirements and getting involved in organized activities that will make you a better doctor.
I know some of the things that are going through your mind: “I’m too busy this quarter,” “I’ll do it next quarter,” “It’s not that important,” “I’m tired,” “I have homework,” or “I can concentrate on this once I’m in clinic.” Being able to speak to people you do not know is a skill that is arguably as important as all of your classes. You develop this skill by getting involved and participating in activities that will allow you to practice. You need to step outside your comfort zone now because you will have to in practice.
By taking a proactive attitude when it comes to getting involved in activities in and out of school, you will further your education and prepare yourself for practice. Please, please, please do not wait until you are finally in clinic. You need to be ready to hit the ground running when you get to clinic as it will springboard you into practice.
Here are some suggestions on how to get involved right now as a student (whether it’s your first quarter/trimester or your final quarters/trimesters):
“¢ Join campus chiropractic clubs. There are so many clubs to get involved in. This is probably one of the easiest things to do. Technique clubs, sports council, public speaking, etc. Look around at your choices and pick one or two to do. Try them all if you can, but don’t overwhelm yourself in one quarter. Pace yourself. Some clubs you may continue all the way through to the end of school and beyond. All of these give you great experience and are nice places to start.
“¢ Be a part of student council. Talk about gaining leadership experience and communication skills! Aside from representing your student body in a positive way, you gain interpersonal communication skills and learn to navigate the challenges of making changes in an institution.
“¢ Work at a local chiropractor’s office. Get a job or volunteer. Depending on who you pick to work with, you will have exposure to all types of practices and procedures that we employ out in the field.
“¢ Go to as many chiropractic seminars as possible. Practice management, technique and office procedural seminars offer easy access, affordable student rates and usually great learning atmospheres. Foot Levelers seminars, for instance, are free for students. So many topics are offered, it is amazing.
“¢ Take advantage of all the technique labs you can. If open technique lab is offered, go to it. If an instructor is holding an extra skills lab, do it. In order for something to be natural to you, you must keep practicing until you are sick of it.
“¢ Go the extra mile. When you go home on break, seek out local DCs, meet with them and ask them questions. Also look for opportunities to sharpen your public speaking skills.
The way you will practice when you graduate is shaped by each passing day you are in school. It is much more than just taking tests and moving to the next quarter; it is about how you grow as a person. Remember that your patients will never ask you what your grades were in school. They care about how you can help their pain. You learn this over time as you get more skill and more verbal acumen. Working on these areas now will save you time on how much must be learned when you graduate.