This month marks my 30th anniversary in the chiropractic profession. Yes, time does fly when you’re having fun! It seems like just yesterday I was walking to spinal anatomy class with my buddies, reciting the names of meninges, ganglions, and nerve plexuses. If you’re in chiropractic college now, you’ll be happy to know that the best is yet to come.
Later, when you look back on your own career, you’ll want to be satisfied with the choices you’ve made. To that end, consider the following lessons won from hard-earned experience. They can help you navigate your way to a successful career.
1. Don’t miss out on all the extras. Your chiropractic college will most likely have required courses that provide a great foundational education; but some of your most beneficial teachable moments will come when listening to guest speakers, visiting various practices, chumming with veteran DCs at conventions, and reading books from many of the greats who left behind their legacy in the written word. Be on the lookout for these opportunities and take advantage of them.
2. Work at improving your communication skills. Some experts say your success is dependent on your ability to exchange your ideas. And, as a doctor, interpersonal relationship- building is paramount to gaining referrals and retaining a patient base. Get more comfortable in your own skin by learning to express yourself confidently. If you’re struggling with this, you can try attending Toastmasters groups, or take a Dale Carnegie course. Don’t be afraid to seek more professional help if needed, because it’s that important.
3. Build credibility. The word on the street is “fear.” The public is increasingly distrustful of professionals including bankers, clergy, politicians, and doctors.
Nowadays it’s more important than ever to be a trustable chiropractor. Build as much credibility as possible from trusted sources by belonging to legitimate organizations, gaining additional certifications from accredited institutions, and maintaining a clean reputation. Start this while in school so you’ll be more employable, and get a jump ahead of most others.
4. Set a good example. People are watching you and your behavior. This includes what you’re eating, who you are friending in social media, whether you regularly exercise and get adjusted, your overall behavior, and even how you respect others. Live your daily life congruent with what you stand for.
The media loves to make a mockery of chiropractic when they can exploit misdeeds within the profession. And don’t make any unjustifiable claims about cures, healing, or results from chiropractic. Humbleness is a virtue.
5. Explore and embrace chiropractic’s history. Our profession has a wonderful but unfortunately under-appreciated heritage. Learn about those DCs who fought valiantly to protect your rights as a chiropractor. Don’t be frustrated by the diversity of techniques – that is expected due to the profession’s higher emphasis on art than is found in conventional medicine. Seek to understand our unique philosophy and marvel at the passion of the early chiropractic pioneers – it’s contagious.
6. Live frugally. Most new DCs struggle with the massive debt they’ve accumulated, much of it from exorbitant living while a student.
While borrowing for educational expenses is generally a great investment, you will be wise to set substantial limits for living costs and minimize unnecessary fluff. And then keep your good financial management in place during your career for a wonderful retirement. Lots of fun can still be had on a tight budget.
7. Anticipate rejection. Your “set-the-world-on-fire” enthusiasm to go forth and save humanity is admirable, but you’ll likely encounter many who are resistant to say the least. Accept the fact that much of the public is misinformed about real health, and that you have to join the huge battle to change the culture of healthcare. Continue being excited, especially about your potential, but develop a tough skin, too. Don’t forget there are powerful industries that consider you a threat. Stand your ground, but be gentle with adversaries.
As a general rule, you want to be a credit to your profession, and give it everything that you’ve got. This will help you stay focused and out of trouble.