It’s almost a given that the students who have big practices in their college clinic will alsoÂ become successful doctors with thriving practices after they graduate.
The students who struggle through college clinic without referrals from their patients, upperclassmen, or from people in the community, will ultimately struggle after graduation.
Touch and tell
While you’re still in the college clinic, the touch-and-tell procedure is a simple method to educate your patients and stimulate their referrals. (This procedure has been effectively used in chiropractic for over 100 years.)
When palpating patients’ subluxations, explain which nerves are being pinched, where they go, and the health problems that can result. Mention the health problems you are relieving and preventing.
Here’s a basic script for a six-step touch-and-tell visit:
- While palpating the subluxation to be adjusted, say, “This bone is out of place.”
- “It pinches the nerve going to [the part].”
- “If the nerve stays under pressure, [health problem] can occur.”
- “I have lots of patients with [health problem].”
- “I can fix [health problem] by setting this bone back into place. Once the nerve heals, the [health problem] can heal.”
- “Let’s set this bone back into place so you don’t get [health problem].”
Here’s how this script would play out in a clinical encounter:
Upper cervical subluxation:
“This bone is out of place. It pinches the nerves that go over the top of your head, and that’s what’s causing your headaches. I have lots of patients coming to me for headaches, and I help them by setting this bone back in place. Let’s get your bone back in place so you won’t get headaches.”
Lower cervical and upper thoracic subluxations: “This bone is out of place. It pinches the nerves that go into your shoulders, arms, and hands. If the nerves stay under pressure, pain, numbness, and tingling will occur in your shoulders, arms, or hands. I have lots of patients who come to me for these problems, and I fix them by setting this bone back into place. Let’s set your bone back into place so you won’t get these problems.”
Mid-thoracic subluxation: Explain to the patient that anÂ out-of-place vertebra here can pinch the nerves that go out between the ribs, causing pain radiatingÂ fromÂ theÂ mid-backÂ around the rib cage. Then say, “I have lots of patients coming to me with pain radiating between their ribs. I fix their rib pain by setting this bone in place. Let’s set your bone back in place so you don’t get pain between your ribs.”
Rules to remember
- Keep your language simple and clear. When you use complicated medical terms, patients tend to tune you out.
- Notice in the examples above that the words “subluxation,” “intervertebral misalignment,” and such aren’t used. Simpler terms like “bone out of place” work better.
- Only talk about one health problem that the patient is suffering from during each visit.
- Write on the patient’s file or travel card the subluxation you talked to the patient about.
- Your explanation of the effects of a subluxation and how you can help this health problem should take no longer than five to 10 seconds.
Students: Your patients don’t know that you can take care of headaches as well as shoulder, arm, leg, and rib pain. Once you’ve educated them, they can refer their friends who have these problems to you.
The old-timers built their practices by using the “touch-and-tell” method. It was effective then, and it still is today.
Peter G. Fernandez, DC, the “start-up coach,” has been a practice consultant for almost 30 years. He has consulted in the opening of more than 3,000 new practices and can be contacted through The Practice Starters Program at 800-882-4476, firstname.lastname@example.org, or through practicestarters.com.