How to Successfully “Practice” as a Chiropractor

By: Dallas Humble, DC and Minghe Li Dhawan, MBA/CFA

Practice Makes Perfect

What is the SECRET? Is there a specific formula that anyone can follow, with success being guaranteed if all steps are followed? Or is it simply a matter of practice, practice, practice? There is more than one way to “practice’ after all:

  • Practice Understanding Chiropractic Philosophy
  • Practicing with Purpose
  • Practice Responsibility
  • Practice Avoiding Negative Conversation
  • Practice Avoiding Burn-Out Syndrome
  • Practice Breaking Out of Comfort Zones
  • Practice Establishing Goals
  • Practice Taking Control of Your Finances

A strategy or plan of action is a must; however, the plan of action will not work for you if you do not take the responsibility of putting the action steps to work. We will examine some specific components that are possessed and practiced by the most successful doctors of our profession.

Practice Understanding Chiropractic Philosophy

Understanding that Chiropractic philosophy is the first step it is a must. I have experienced some of the most organized, efficiently running offices attempt to grow, but they remain unsuccessful. By the same token I have experienced seeing unorganized, inefficiently running offices seeing 500 plus visits per week. Why? You guessed it… Chiropractic philosophy. Understanding and practicing Chiropractic based on philosophy has brought our profession to where it is today. It is vital to a successful practice. Certainly, back pain, neck pain, headaches, and all the other musculoskeletal problems that people suffer from may find the answer through Chiropractic care, but is that all our purpose is? I don’t believe that. How about you?

Educating our patients to the importance of Chiropractic adjustments is a very important key to a successful practice. It is extremely crucial for patient retention. If a patient does not understand how adjustments work or the total healing process, it will not be important for them to continue their care once they began to feel better. We, as practitioners, understand that patients feel better long before the treatment process is completed. Unfortunately, our patients don’t walk into our offices with that knowledge. It is our responsibility as practitioners to teach them.

Practicing with Purpose

As important as it is to understand the philosophy of Chiropractic, you must practice with purpose for it to be effective. It is much like practicing what you preach. To understand something is one thing, to live it is another. It is imperative that you do not deviate from the purpose for which your practice stands for, and that you stick to the basics.

What are the basics? Effective consultations, report of findings, and healthcare orientations. You must develop good communication skills and love what you are doing to the extent of being lost in the services you provide. With all the complaints you may hear from patients day after day, including outside criticism, staff issues, family issues, and any other existing factors, or the ones that are sure to come, you will certainly suffer from burn-out on a consistent average of about 4–6 weeks.

Keep focused on purpose—your eyes glued to your goals, your ears tuned to wisdom and knowledge consuming all that is positive from those that are where you are going, picking up health-related educational and motivational materials for reading as much as possible. And attend as many educational seminars and workshops as possible that are complementary and inspiring for your practice goals.

The phase, “You are known by the company you keep,” is a very popular one and holds true to its popularity. Your association with other successful people is very important. I have known good practitioners who have a bad name earned only by the company they keep. It’s called “guilt by association.” It is wise to associate with those practitioners who have the same, or similar, belief system as you. Then, and only then, will you reap the benefits of what practicing with a purpose is all about. Remember, your willingness to change is a vital part of a successful practice.

Practice Responsibility

Although there are certain things that may definitely contribute to the success or failure of your practice, you are the one who controls it. Just as a parent must take responsibility for his or her children, you must take responsibility for your practice. By taking responsibility for all aspects of your office, you will become a better person, thereby giving you the strength to take on obstacles you would have never thought possible.

When you make a decision and feel that it is the right one to successfully reach a desired goal or task, stick with it! Put little value in others’ opinions, and remember, you are the only one who is responsible for your success. No one who is successful at anything is going to have anything good said about him or her without having negative comments said as well.

The difference in a successful practitioner and one who is borderline, or below, is that the successful practitioner pays little attention to the negative comments that are said about him or her. Be focused on the purpose of why you are in practice. Don’t allow obstacles to get in your way or distract you. Use what I call the “Duck Theory”—let negative comments roll off your back like water on a duck’s feathers. The practitioner who is not firm in his own decisions or beliefs does not have the eye of the tiger, is easily distracted, and loses sight of his or her goals. Think back to the biblical days, with all success breeds jealousy, and with jealousy comes criticism. Pay no attention to negativity. You are the maker of your own destiny. Let nothing or no one drive you away.

Practice Avoiding Negative Conversation

It is important that you speak only the positive. In short, if you are going to increase your patient visits per day, practice more and speak less. Talk only about what your patient is interested in, as long as it’s positive, and keep the focus off of your personal interest. Remember that their visit is about their health and not you. In general, patients do not want to talk about bass fishing, the economy, or what’s in the news. They can do that anywhere. They want good quality service. Most patients, professional or otherwise, have a pre-planned schedule for their day. I am sure it is not to spend it in your office. Focus on their treatment plan, always displaying concern and gratitude, while quickly performing service in a gracious manner. In today’s society, patients want quality service, but they want it fast. Either conform or be left out.

Practice Avoiding Burn-Out Syndrome

Everyone needs time off to do the things they enjoy, which includes spending time with family or friends. Burn-out syndrome, however, comes more frequently to the practitioner who is practicing without knowing where he or she is going. They have little or no purpose and feel beat up after several patient complaints or negative comments from others. For a practitioner who has set goals and is focused on purpose, vacation time becomes a want rather than a necessity.

Since family should obviously come before business, and we should all take time to enjoy the things life has to offer, you should schedule time away from the office according to your needs, but not so often that you can’t serve your patients with the service they deserve.

Practice Breaking Out of Comfort Zones

Comfort zones are easy to get into. You work hard to reach different levels in your practice. While your office was in the affluent trend, you were excited and had your attention on the goals you established. All of a sudden, you reached a plateau and can’t seem to get above it. You may fluctuate above it for a short period of time, only to return below the magic number, whatever it may be.

There are many things in our lives that we are accustomed to having, certain areas geographically where we are accustomed to living, and certain people we are comfortable being around. I believe that geographical location is one of the hardest to overcome. Relocating is not easy for anyone. Trust me when I say that I thought I would never get used to Davenport, Iowa, but that is where I learned to take the challenge and overcome my geographical syndrome.

I hear many practitioners—both new doctors and experienced—say, “My location is the reason that I am not successful in practice.” Another one is, “The people here have no money,” or “People here would not go for that practice concept or advertisement in this area,” and the list goes on and on. I wish I had a dollar for every excuse that I’ve heard—and believe me, I’ve heard plenty. I’ve been in places that appeared to be a dead zone, but the practitioners there are successful. If you concentrate on being your best, no matter where you are, you will be.

While visiting a successful practitioner’s office in California, I noticed that there was no parking whatsoever. His office was serving in excess of 2,000 patient visits per week! When I asked him about what I saw as a parking problem, he did not see it as a problem. His response to me was, “I never paid any attention to it. I’m not in the parking business.” Get the picture? It all goes back to taking responsibility for where you are—geographically, financially, personally, spiritually—it doesn’t matter. The key to your success is in your hand. Only you can make it happen!

Practice Establishing Goals

Practitioners who are goal oriented are destined for success. Large goals must be accomplished one day at a time. It is crucial to plan daily for success. Goals must be written down and reviewed daily in order that you may stay focused on your purpose.

There are daydreams and there are goals. Daydreams are the ones you talk about but never take the necessary actions to achieve. Goals are the ones you establish and begin taking the steps to achieve them while staying committed and focused at all cost. Playing in the game of life without goals is somewhat like playing a game of basketball without a ball or net. You’re shooting, but how do you know if you’re scoring the points? Commit yourself to your goals. Establish long- and short-term goals. Accomplishing one short-term goal is an incentive to strive harder to reach the long-term goals. Short-term goals are the avenues you take to reach a long-term destination. Put them in writing and just do it. You will be amazed at what you can do. You, too, can Make It Happen!

Practice Taking Control of Your Finances

Taking control of your finances is a must. I have come to the conclusion that no matter what success principals you establish for yourself, if the financial aspect of your life is out of sync, you will be totally concentrating on your needs most of your time—and that will drain the majority, if not all, of your energy. It will also create a sense of failure and it will become very difficult to focus on your goals. Learn all that you need to know about your finances and how you may increase them. Establish good spending and saving habits. Nothing Saved – Nothing Earned. Learn how to handle money. Remember that no one is going to take care of your money the way you will. Learn to invest properly in yourself and your business.

Investments don’t come easily. You must be willing to work hard for what you desire. Financial windfalls do not knock on your door unless by lotteries, inheritance etc., and many times when wealth is gained without hard work it ends in disaster, failure, and unhappiness beyond comprehension. One must learn the value of a dollar and what a true work ethic is all about.

Success is waiting for you at the end of the rainbow, but first you must apply these principles. It’s a daily occupation. Remember, “Practice Makes Perfect.”

About the Authors

Dr. Dallas Humble has been in practice for 20 years, many of which he has spent advising other doctors concerning their businesses. He is the founder and President of Dallas Humble, Inc. (DHI) and has authored several motivational and self-help style books. He is considered to be a leading authority in practice success today.

Minghe Li Dhawan, MBA/CFA, has eight years of experience helping doctors attain their financial goals. She is a Chartered Financial Analyst, the most prestigious designation for finance professionals worldwide. At DHI, she has been the key to securing loans for over 100 clients. Ms. Dhawan’s expertise and experience are considered by many banking professionals to be first-rate. Ms. Dhawan has formed relationships in the finance industry that have been extremely beneficial to the Chiropractic profession.