After the first quarter or so of chiropractic college, many students forget why they are there. The process of learning often obscures its purpose. These students suffer from “practice amnesia.”
Practice amnesia is the condition in which students forget that chiropractic college and national board examinations are largely an obstacle course, an expensive “snipe hunt” designed to test the resolve and cognitive skills of those who want to become chiropractors.
It’s a complicated puzzle that society has devised to see who Â·will be permitted to touch patients in examination rooms in order to rearrange their internal skeletal structure to reduce biomechanical fixations and invoke the healing potential resulting from reducing nervous system interferences.
Rather than seeing college for what it is, many students are seduced into believing that getting good grades will somehow enhance their future prospects. That’s because at this stage they have not yet discovered that they will use little of the book learning in actual practice. They assume the largely medically oriented coursework will find application in day-to-day practice. It won’t.
Even more tragically, the diploma and practice license are identical whether you graduate at the top of your class or barely scrape by at the bottom. Patients will never ask for your grade-point average or want to know how well you did on your neuroanatomy final. Unless you have a scholarship or student loan based on your GPA, whether you get an A or a C is largely immaterial.
Skills that make for good test-taking are largely unhelpful in actual practice. This is an obstacle course, remember?
Worse, many student chiropractors believe that the future will take care of itself and that planning for actual practice years before graduation is a needless luxury. Most are concerned with passing the boards first.
Ironically, these are the same chiropractors who emerge unprepared, without a plan, having squandered valuable opportunities along the way that could have laid the groundwork for a successful career launch.
If you’re currently in chiropractic school and want to practice the discipline of chiropractic, you might want to rethink your goal of being class valedictorian and invest your limited discretionary time and attention in activities that will actually help you in practice.
Develop your public speaking skills
Even if you don’t want to do lectures or give talks in your community (the most effective, least expensive way of getting new patients), fine-tuning your ability to speak in front of others will enhance your confidence, self-expression, and ability to deliver an effective report of findings. Moreover, getting to a Toastmasters group while you’re still in college will help you stop the “living in your head” that studying and relentless test-taking seem to promote.
Tour as many practices as possible
Chiropractic doesn’t generally offer an organized intern or residency program like medicine. To broaden your understanding of the practice of chiropractic, you’ll want to see firsthand the good, bad, and the ugly. Ask questions. Record your interviews.
Successful chiropractors are quick to help students if they show up humble, curious, and open-minded. For the price of a couple of lunches you can learn many of the lessons that go untaught at chiropractic college.
Create your practice dream book
Collect photos, sketches, and ideas obtained from your practice tours in a three-ring binder. As you become aware of practice resources, websites, and communication tools, add them to your notebook. Your objective is to start visualizing your future practice and organizing the resources you’ll need in advance.
There are a few chiropractic colleges that recognize their obligation to produce successful chiropractors who can apply their skills to help the world. Far too many, though, perhaps fearful of being seen as mere trade schools, happily take tuition dollars and assume their responsibilities end when students graduate and successfully pass Part IV.
Perhaps the reason some students acquire practice amnesia is because their educational institution gave it to them.