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October, 2012

More Than a Job, But a Way of Life

By Steve Engen, 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.

The first thing to realize is that you have to thoroughly understand the magnitude of the undertaking that you are attempting to achieve. Being a good doctor is a huge responsibility and more than a job; it's a way of life. It's a commitment! Please don't treat is as a hobby that might interfere with your golf tee time.

Once one has made that commitment, the first goal should be to obtain as much knowledge of ALL aspects of the profession as possible. That includes knowledge of human health and disease, benefits and limitations of all chiropractic therapies within your state's scope of practice, benefits and limitations of OTHER therapies available for the patient's disease so you can counsel them intelligently, best business practices, best political approaches to improve patient access to your care in your state, and coping skills to help you maintain a life outside of your office.

What I just outlined above is HUGE. The acquisition of knowledge of health and disease is forever ongoing and changing. Sitting in on mandatory CE hours is just the tip of the iceberg. In today's world with internet access, getting new information on this condition or a study on a new therapy for that condition is just a few clicks of the mouse away. Gather that information daily, and share it with the patients who might benefit from it. Knowing how other health care professionals may treat that same condition is also critical to a successful practice through patient informed consent; so keep on top of "health care" for your state's full scope of DC practice, not just what you offer the patient. Keeping up on the art of how to run a successful health care business could be called a profession all by itself. Most of us don't have the time nor the training (most of us aren't MBA's) to do this alone. It's best to hire a good CPA as a business consultant and have them take your hand to assist you with business set-up, organizing your accounting, assisting you with marketing, staffing, etc. BUT, understand that YOU are still the responsible party for the ultimate outcome of your combined efforts.

All these things, when done adequately, should help the new, young doctor of chiropractic to reach their ultimate clinical goal: PATIENT SATISFACTION (not Dr. satisfaction). Here's the deal. Clinical competence leads to clinical confidence, which, along with kind and gentle procedures, can lead to good clinical outcomes for the patient who's problems are chiropractic care indicated. Usually, that leads to a satisfied patient, especially if all the accessory issues are handled humanely, i.e. follow-up care planning, insurance filing, flexibility of payment options, etc. We have found that those patients talk, and that leads to referrals. Now, not all referrals have conditions where chiropractic care is the treatment of choice, but it might have value as an adjunctive therapy. Once you examine those patients, be up front and honest with them in a humane way; telling some of them that you feel they can be best treated with primary medical referral, along with your adjunctive, complimentary therapies. They may or may not accept your care offer, but they will thank you, remember your honesty, and refer, refer, refer.

Be a people person; show your interest in patients' lives, not just their health. They will reward you by showing you interest in your business.


Dr. Engen is a graduate of Logan Health Sciences University and has had his own practice since 1979. He is certified in Applied Kinesiology, Chiropractic Neurology and as a Performance Enhancement Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. He currently practices in Kearney, Neb. and can be reached at .

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