By: Larry Markson, DC
While most Chiropractors are desirous of building bigger and better practices, they are also equally desirous of reducing the stress of daily operations until practice once again becomes emotionally satisfying. Time and time again, I hear my colleagues say that they are “burned out.” Although the word burnout has only been in our lexicon for a few short years, it seems to be the fashionable description of the symptom that permeates the attitude of the practitioner whose practice is either on a plateau or on a gradual decline.
As a Chiropractic management consultant whose primary purpose is to help our members become personally and professionally successful, I was very interested in the root cause of this new condition that appears to be a stumbling block to both personal happiness and practice growth. My conclusion, after speaking with hundreds of DCs, was that Chiropractors only complain of burnout when they are not being rewarded emotionally or financially. Further analysis indicates that without the emotional satisfaction that can only come from a worthy goal, sought for and then achieved, not only do financial rewards go unfulfilled, but the attitude, energy, action, and spirit of a doctor’s overall purpose become unclear. And, as we all know, no one can achieve anything on a long-lasting basis if he/she does not have a high purpose and develop a plan of action that is crystal clear.
The one thing that Chiropractors who never experience this phenomena called burnout have in common is that they all have a magnetic, compelling purpose from which they will not be denied. That purpose is so elegant and so simple that it is frequently overlooked by the multitude of Chiropractors seeking to increase their practices using a plethora of practice-building gimmicks.
When a Chiropractor’s main purpose changes from one of mere practice survival to one that is solely concerned with their patient’s “optimal spinal health,” we quickly discover that what we really want is easy to achieve. Conditions like plateaued practices or burnout can never happen when the Chiropractor goes back to the basics and stops running his or her practice based upon patient demands or what insurance companies have arbitrarily decided is right for our patient. When a Chiropractor uses his or her practice solely as a means to make money and accumulate the external symbols of success, they, in my experience, always seem to get bored and then invariably burnout.
Chiropractic is so much more than just a method by which we earn our living.
In fact, the DCs who seem to avoid burnout are those who have a very strong belief system in the principles of our profession. They recognize that their practices are much like an automobile that sits by a curb waiting for someone to step on the accelerator, or put their foot on the brake. The auto responds to a living energy with a purpose and so, too, does your practice. Your practice follows you! When you are focused on purpose and turned on, it increases, and when you go about your day simply pushing bones and X-raying spines mechanically, it declines accordingly. When you are up, it’s up and when you are down, it goes down… and therefore, there is no one or nothing to blame but yourself. You get to take full responsibility for your practice success or failure.
Many of the answers we seek lie in the basic underlying concepts and beliefs of our very different, unique and special natural healing art. We should not only be concerned with the detection and correction of spinal subluxations, but also in the restoration of spinal integrity and function. Most important of all, our focus needs to be on educating the public about the VALUE of lifetime Chiropractic care, about optimal spinal health and a properly functioning nervous system.
Clearly, I am not speaking of the elimination of symptoms or pain only, which, in my opinion, is the practice of medicine through the guise of Chiropractic. Far too many Chiropractors, however, do practice that way and they are the ones who seem to burnout first. They are acute-care practitioners whose primary focus is to model themselves after our allopathic brothers, but who have a hard time understanding who we are and what we do.
I am speaking of Chiropractors who believe in themselves and in our Chiropractic principles and spend their time educating their patients to the real facts about spinal health.
- Spinal subluxations and the resulting interference with proper nerve transmission is the number one cause of disease in the world today.
- Spinal subluxations are extremely common and are easy to detect, especially by well-trained doctors of Chiropractic.
- Spinal subluxations that cause disease can be symptom-free for weeks, months or years before pain develops.
- Spinal nerve irritation can adversely affect any part, organ, tissue or cell of the body.
- Spinal subluxations detected in the early stages, before symptoms develop, are much easier to detect and correct.
- Optimal spinal health is essential for normal mental and physical well-being.
If all of the above is true, and I assure you that it is, and if pain or symptoms are generally the end result of a long-coming and progressive decline in spinal health, then the question is: why do Chiropractors have difficulty building and then maintaining a substantial practice?
The answer, in my experience, is simply because most Chiropractors are in the “game” to be loved, accepted, appreciated, and approved of by their patients and by the so-called outside world, instead of recognizing their responsibility to practice their unique healing art the way it was intended in the first place. That is, to give our patients what they need, not necessarily what they want. They want one adjustment, instant cure, no charge, in the mail! What they need is an individualized program of Chiropractic care designed to get them out of pain, make spinal correction, regardless of how long that takes or what the insurance companies think, and then maintain that correction until the chances of the original condition returning again become remote… and then keep that patient educated and motivated so they remain a Chiropractic patient long enough to derive the real benefit of Chiropractic care: the prevention of sickness and disease!
This has nothing to do with the college you graduated from or whether you are a so-called “straight or mixer.” It has to do with fulfilling your purpose, with staying positive, and with providing a service that will put you and your office in great demand, because you will be truly unique in your neighborhood.
You will be practicing Chiropractic as it was intended: as a natural healing art which recognizes the innate power of the body to heal itself. Then, if you add to your belief system some professional expertise backed by solid office procedures, you will be amazed at what will happen; burnout gets replaced by enthusiasm; plateaued practices begin to grow again; monetary rewards naturally follow; pride in yourself and in our profession is restored and all else follows.