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May, 2012

The Steady Pursuit of Practice Improvement: My Best Idea

By Michael Holloway, DC

Welcome to Dynamic Chiropractic Practice Insights "My Best Idea" column. An extension of our "Solutions" feature, this column provides a forum for an exceptional practitioner to share some of the secrets to their success.

It is my belief that my personal success in practice stems from my steady pursuit for improvement in all things that can clinically benefit my patients. I am referring to four specific goals:

  1. Staying current with chiropractic research.
  2. Learning from most chiropractic publications, whether ACA, ICA, WCA, ICPA, etc.
  3. Learning from hands-on seminars, most especially Parker seminars.
  4. Learning from any peers that might have more skills or experience than I do.

As what would be termed a "mixer" in the diverse and sometimes controversial world of chiropractic, it is my sincere belief that our responsibility towards all patients extends to those aspects of their health that not only affect their ability to hold an adjustment, but might also be the source of their subluxation. This includes extremity adjusting, rehab, home/gym exercises, lifestyle modifications, soft-tissue work, custom orthotics, diet and whole-food nutritional supplementation. I find that our conventional counterparts will ignore most, if not all of these things; therefore, my indifference to such important facets of health will result in less-than-optimal life-expression for the patient. I know it involves more time, effort, and continuing education to get involved in such things, but I feel that it's worth it and the payoff is continual referral. My patients expect me to be knowledgeable in not only all things chiropractic, but also other aspects of life that can affect their well-being.

I do not solicit my patients for referrals, nor do I reward them with anything more than a smile and a "thank you." I do not wish to receive referrals simply because patients want additional affection from me or monetary incentives. I want them to refer because they have confidence that I can help their friend or family member; that they are simply doing what's best for someone they care about. Presently, I am greater than 90% in referral which means that I no longer spend money on advertising any more. I feel that such expenditures are better served by increasing my skills and knowledge (e.g. seminars).

While we're on the subject of doing things differently and at the risk of refuting the advice of management gurus countrywide, you'd be surprised by how little attention I give to how many patients I see in a day, week, month, year or lifetime. This is not to say that I do not believe in setting goals. I do, and most especially for those just starting out. Setting short, mid, and long-term goals – in as much detail as is possible – is a very effective way to become successful. How one defines "success" is going to vary from practitioner to practitioner. I find that knowing what you truly and realistically want is the first and most important step in defining your life and shaping your reality. If you're not happy, what is it that will make you happy? You'd be surprised by how many people can't answer that simple question.

Landmarks for measuring my success these days are different than they were 5 to 9 years ago. I now measure success by how much time I can spend traveling or learning new skills – learning techniques that might only help two to four percent of the patient population; nevertheless,it's a two to four percent that I would otherwise be unsuccessful with. Again, you have to know what your niche is, what you enjoy. Seek out those knowledge bases that spark interest in your head and heart, and then make them a part of your practice. The point is, do what you feel is right for the type of clinic you want to spend many years practicing in.

Being a chiropractor in today's economy can be a challenge. My advice for the doctor who is suffering at the hands of a sluggish economy is this:

  1. Love your patients and simply be yourself – do not compromise your principles and ethics in order to make a few extra dollars. Do what is right for each person and the rewards will come, monetarily or otherwise.
  2. Continually expand your knowledge base. You will become the DC with the answers other doctors are unable to give. If you can't afford to hit local or distant seminars, than make use of the plethora of information that is available to you regularly and at no cost. Chiropractic literature alone can be huge in helping any practitioner at any point in their career.

In closing, success to you will be different than it is for me. This is normal as we are all quite unique. Are you happy? Are you competent? Do your patients love what you do for them? Measure yourself by those things that you deem truly important, and then ask yourself, "am I successful?"

Dynamic Chiropractic Practice Insights is looking for additional "Best Ideas" from chiropractors nationwide who want to share what has worked in making a successful practice. Here are the particulars of what we are looking for. Answer the following questions to share your best idea: 1. Many factors go into having a successful chiropractic clinic, but what is the number one thing that has led to your success? (This can be anything from marketing strategy to patient relations to specialized services to great technique and so forth, the goal is to give your peers the help they also need to be a success.) 2. What are the practical milestones you use to measure your success? (Again this can be many things: patient retention, financial results, etc.) 3. What advice can you give for managing through difficult times? Please keep your answers to 800-1200 words and include a brief biography and your contact information. To submit your "Best Idea," e-mail it to Senior Associate Editor Kathryn Feather at with "Best Idea" in the subject line.

Dr. Michael A. Holloway practices in his native town of San Antonio, Texas. A veteran of the U.S. Army, he has a bachelor's in Biology (Magna Cum Laude) from UTSA, another bachelor's in Anatomy, and his doctorate from Parker College of Chiropractic (Cum Laude). He is also an Applied Clinical Nutritionist and has practiced out of Holloway Chiropractic since February 2002. He may be reached at or through his website

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