Chiropractor's wife!

Chiropractor's wife!
Have Curves In All The Right Places?

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Chiropractor Wife's Guide To Entering The Profession

New Year, New Perspectives! If you are like my husband and graduated from a decent chiropractic school and passed all your boards you are anxious to get in to the field and sport your skills! Some of you may not be done with school and I would first recommend you transfer into another degree program as soon as possible. Anything but chiropractic. If I can't convince you to do that then read on! Insisting on making your way as a chiropractor is near impossible in today's climate. You probably don't believe me so alas, I write this guide for you! Take it or leave it!

My husband relied heavily on startingintopractice.com over a year before his prospective graduation date and I can recommend it as a wonderful resource. I even quit working entirely out of the home to focus 100% on creating our practice. The hours of work we put in to trying to get it right still resulted in us being streamlined into the typical statistics. Truthfully, I was only interested in beating the "80% of businesses fail within the first 2 years" mark and we beat that by 3 months so I was satisfied. The SBA says 50% fail in the first 5 years. Yep, that happened to us no matter how hard we tried to avoid any mistakes! Here is my gift to you in hoping YOU get it right!

First: Live Somewhere you love.
Not just where it seems businessly plausible.
I have decided to tell you how to get it right. Some testing prep company that my husband studied for the national boards with gave him a paper called, "Opening up your practice on a shoe string budget". I remember we respected that piece of paper and as many items that were to be found on it I only remember the very first one, "LIVE WHERE YOUR HEART SINGS". I probably remember it because we broke that rule when we decided to move to the one state a swore I would NEVER raise our kids in: Utah. So the first item in my guide would definitely be location. Live somewhere you love. Trust me. Please make sure you get at least that right. If you are married or in a domestic partnership consider their feelings too or better, the feelings you share on the matter. My husband and I ALWAYS said we would live in Colorado. We should have done that. He does have a license there so that much we got right. Moving to Salt Lake City has actually been enough like Colorado that I am completely and utterly happy here and thus prosperity has been falling like dew drops on our lives for a year!

Second:Buy a practice or start your own
No big revelation there. All of us who either started our own practice or bought one wish we would have just taken an Associate position right out of school until our friends who all took jobs quit within the first year of said positions and ended up just buying or opening their own place. If you buy make sure there are no liens on your prospective business. Also make sure you find out how many of the xhundred or thousand charts are actually real patients not just ones who have been in 1 time and never again. Also, make sure you have a hearty SBA loan or a job so you can build your practice and still be able to eat and have shelter! Family comes in handy here but listen to me when I say, 19 months in my mother in laws basement probably held us back more than it helped our situation. Autonomy is so important and so is sacrifice. Sacrifice working for a wage around your clinic hours rather than turning to depending on family or day care.
1. The website is important, but you don't need to spend alot of money. You can do that later when you are a rich chiropractor. Start with the no fee setups, month to month, inexpensive one like onlinechiro.com We went with Bill Estebs Perfect Patients initially and regret the expenses. They have actually significantly improved the price and such but I still found out the hard way that the other companies are just as good for very reasonable prices.
2. Start small. Look to rent a room in an established medical/DO/NP/PT office or spa or gym or Wal Mart. It doesn't take a lot of room to help people and build your base.
3. Smart marketing. Business cards, flyers, and free press releases. Spending big money on community fairs is often a crappy return on investment. You'd do better to just dress your friends and family in your T-shirts and pass out business cards or coupons while enjoying the community event. A win win and much much cheaper than manning a booth all day with horrible return on investment! Avoid print ads whatever you do! They will say you need them and valu pac will entice you to take a chance but don't. Word of mouth and genuine relationships with people is all you need and the most effective! Just hand out a set amount of business cards a day in the beginning. 20?
4. Do not give anything away free or reduced unless you are doing the honor box practice. "The best way to help the poor is to not be one of them." This means honoring the law of fair exchange! If someone can't pay they need to go somewhere else. Trust me on this. We went out of business "helping" everyone. Go ahead and set your fees lower if you have to, just don't give your skills away.
5. Hold off on expensive practice software or practice equipment. Start with your PC or lap top and an adjusting table. You can use calendar features for years until the revenue comes in.
6. Set your hours and hold to them. We found that 3pm-7pm where THE busiest times. I suspect this could be universal experience.

Third: Get a back up career
Whether it be teaching science or math like my husband, or continuing on to your MD, PA, PT, or RN get something else. If you ever find yourself injured you won't be able to adjust people easily and you are also in a profession that is relentlessly under attack like no other profession I can think of that requires so much time and money to enter! Even if you find selling products or supplements in your office that is something and you will be glad you did. I encourage you to look at this website for invaluable information that can motivate you to a fulfilling career change if you desire http://chiropractormds.homestead.com/index.html# Be aware that it is an old site and some of the links to Med schools are not working. Make sure you are not scammed into anything that is going to repeat what you already endured in seeking your DC! Fool you twice shame on you!

Fourth: Do Not Default on Student Loans
You wouldn't know it but there is more than likely still a staggering default rate on student loans in the chiropractic profession. http://chiropracticstudent.wordpress.com/category/chiropractic-student-debt/ and http://www.chirobase.org/03Edu/default.html if you don't believe me. My husband and I were naive enough to believe we would never be in these statistics. It was simply not an option! Until we had no money to keep in good standing with Sallie Mae. The rest and bulk of our loans are under the ICR Direct Loan program so we are good. However, Sallie Mae is most unjust and unreasonable and unwilling to work with you despite what they say. Their own website boasts of options that don't exist if you are in default but are not offered until you are in default and thus ineligible. It should be illegal to engage in business this way but they continue to get away with it year after year. Beg borrow or steal to keep Sallie maes admin fees to be in forebearance or else you will be in default. Better yet, consolidate your private loans with ANYONE but Sallie Mae!!!!

Fifth: Get a mentor, not a coach
Find a successful chiropractor that you admire. Take them to lunch and learn all you can about them and how they do things then copy them. Hiring a coach or business management firm will only bleed you dry and cause heartache. My husband did everything he was told to do with heart and faith and lot's and lot's of money going out. It got us nowhere. The best advice is free. Like this blog :o)

Sixth: Live what you teach.
Doctor means teacher. If you are an unhealthy, overweight chiropractor smoking in between patients you are probably never going to be taken seriously by your patients. Ever. Which results in little to no patients. Get healthy, be getting adjusted regularly yourself, and massages so you can exemplify the product you are offering. I was never model thin in practice but I did get adjusted weekly, take standard process supplements, and stayed positive which resulted in health and quality of life my husband's services offered!

Seventh: Try not to borrow money.
Nobody was lending when my husband graduated but we did have 20K saved from student loans and no credit card debt. We were on paper perfect. Both with stellar credit scores and a solid business plan. Eventually a bank gave us a small SBA backed business acquisition loan that we ended up defaulting on when we closed down. Try to avoid borrowing money from anyone. If they donate it to you post graduate- fine. Look for sponsors, sugar daddy's, or money you may have piled up in an old 401K from when you worked at Pizza Hut or something but don't borrow until you have a solid patient base. Credit cards are even better than business loans and yes, we used them..... all of them to their max just to survive in business only to fail and regret it. We are not looking forward to bankruptcy proceedings!

Eighth: Prepare to be disrespected
I was convinced my husband was a real doctor. After all, his diploma said that and I witnessed first hand his educational pursuits and accomplishments. It was extensive and expensive. Tears filled my eyes as he walked in with his graduating class to those Logan University bagpipes and drums blaring! Indeed he and his classmates had finally done it! They were all competent physicians before me ready to embark on defending true health- naturally. What a freakin blow to also get to witness first hand complete and utter disrespect and disregard for what my husband is. In fact just days ago at a family function someone approached his aging PT uncle with "just the man I was waiting for...I have pain in my shoulder." Why they would choose an aging PT over a fresh young spring DC is remarkable to me. I've been at his side while MDs of various specialties treat him like a joke. It is painful to watch but that is because I was completely unready for it. Be ready to be treated like the step-child of health care! A "wanna be," "quack," or worse someone who got their degree from a "cracker Jack box." My husband wore a shirt and tie and owned an otoscope and stethoscope and many of our patients didn't know why!? Be prepared for the disrespect.

Ninth: Keep The Fire Burning
We rather enjoy Parker Seminars in Las Vegas, NV to keep our chiropractic fire burning. Not only do you doctors get most of your CE credits out of the way but you feel fired up the way you did at graduation. When a hot wife or spouse or domestic partner can accompany you all the better! We haven't been in a couple years but we intend to go next year. No matter how disappointing the profession is you can always go to Parker and come home feeling like you have done the right thing despite your crappy bank account or New Patient Averages! I recommend splurging and going to the "Chiropractic Research Gala Dinner" offered that weekend so you can potentially look into the eyes of many of the people who will, or have ripped you off with a smile on their faces over the years! The Expo is full of snakes ready to pounce on fresh meat and sell you their over priced products or services. I say avoid it at all costs except for the freebies! I take that back, there was a handsome black man selling gym clothes that I purchased a pair of workout pants from that had "Under Construction" written across the butt that I still cherish!

Tenth: If you can't have the one you want, love the one your with
I just put this because I can't think of anything else. Bottom line, you can find yourself bitter, angry, and disenchanted, or you can make the most of the situation like I try to do! I am convinced that one can make lemons into lemonade with the present situation of the chiropractic profession but it will never taste quite as sweet as you would like. Even still, it can become a bearable reality with a tart taste you can swallow with just enough support from people around you. So surround yourself with great people, good times, and tasty food! Embrace how far you've come and keep on going! Don't trust anyone- even me! Do your research and take what they tell you with a grain of salt! You might be glad you did!

9 comments:

  1. Sophia, when I see stories about DC's having to sit in malls to get customers that tells me that it is an industry you don't want to be in. Sad stories..defaults never go away. You have done many a service by posting this. Dean

    http://chiropractormds.homestead.com/index.html#

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    1. Most if not many DCs are thriving with ethical caring offices. You can too when you learn how.
      And don't be misled by evidenced based non-sence. The MD's don't have it either.

      “Medicine has always operated in uncertainty,” says Weil. “The Office of Technology Assessment of the U.S. Congress estimated that fewer than 30 percent of procedures currently used in conventional medicine have been rigorously tested. While waiting for further tests, we do the best we can, trying not to hurt people, trying to make educated guesses.” - Dr Andrew Weil MD, Discover Magazine August 1999
      -
      "Only about 15% of medical interventions are supported by scientific evidence...this is partly because only 1% of the articles in medical journals are scientifically sound." - David Eddy MD, PhD, BMJ 1991 303:798
      -
      “It isn’t just an individual study here and there that’s flawed, they charge. Instead, the very framework of medical investigation may be off-kilter, leading time and again to findings that are at best unproved and at worst dangerously wrong. The result is a system that leads patients and physicians astray—spurring often costly regimens that won’t help and may even harm you.” “Even a cursory glance at medical journals shows that once heralded studies keep falling by the wayside.” “Surgical practices, for instance, have not been tested to nearly the extent that medications have. “I wouldn’t be surprised if a large proportion of surgical practice is based on thin air, and [claims for effectiveness] would evaporate if we studied them closely,” - an excerpt from the January 23, 2011 Newsweek article: Why Almost Everything You Hear About Medicine Is Wrong.

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  2. You need to take gallons of water and dump it on the fire. You need to stop fighting the lose and move on. My wife and I did and ate so much happier. I wasted to much time when I finally admitted MY mistake. There is really no need for chiros. I should of just became a DO or dr of PT. Now that I have been out for a coupe of years I can see now I was living a lie and realized there is no such thing as a or no concrete evidence of a SUBLUXATION. Chiro is a joke and I now can truly admit it now.

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  3. I just found your blog yesterday via chirotalk, and read every word. Keep telling your story! I wish I had started blogging or writing down my feelings and experiences along the way while still in chiropractic school or soon after. It's hard to reconstruct just how I got where I am. Some of it is painful to even think about. If I talk to people outside the profession, they never quite understand, and won't believe that it was really that bad.

    Those still in the profession can be divided into the successful few (many of whom engage in shady practices) and the struggling many, who are strongly discouraged from admitting their struggles, even to themselves. Only those who have left the field really seem to get it, but they are reluctant to talk about their experiences because they have been shouted down by both the successful few and struggling many, and made to feel like failures.

    It's been a long time since a new graduate could make an honest living in chiropractic, and if the conditions I've observed here are typical of the rest of the country, in the words of Yosimite Sam, "It's gettin' so a man can't make a dishonest livin' no more!"

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  4. For anyone who is interested in some great help and real talk about the shit going on in the profession ask to join chiropractic sandbox on facebook. This is a group that would be helpful if you are interested in making chiropractic a career, I know doesn't sound like the popular opinion around here but there are some real awesome docs not only talking the TIC but talking that you have to know about business to make it work.... and that coaches are shit get a mentor!! ROCK ON Sophia!

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  5. Excellent post. I appreciate your website and your posts. I was graduated from Life in 2002. I was a used and abused by a charismatic chiropractor for 4 months before I decided to purchase a very small practice. I bought a practice in my home town for $40K using cash advances on credit cards. I grew up poor and had saved little and could not borrow money from family or friends or any local bank. In 2 years, I took the practice from 20 visits/week to 320 visits/week and I was earning a tremendous income. I forced my clinic to grow by working very, very hard and by doing every form of marketing possible including spinal screenings, public lectures, telemarketing, dinner workshops, direct mail, center of influence marketing, TV/radio/newspaper ads, patient appreciation events, tandem marketing, free massages, free x-rays, spending many hours canvassing (knocking on doors in my neighborhood personally inviting my neighbors to come to my clinic when they had need of chiropractic services). I was able to gross in excess of $400K/year (personal income, before taxes, after all business expenses) for a few years. I did everything ethically. I have treated more than 3,000 people in my hometown of 20,000. If I did not feel that a lot of care was needed, I did not recommend a lot of care. I will say that I have seen marketing results drop off tremendously in the past 4 years of being in practice. My new patients have gone from 30-35 per month down to 12-15 per month. Many patients no longer choose to treat after the pain is gone. It is very difficult to be a successful chiropractor these days. I still make a pretty good living (about 1/4 of what I used to) and I know there are many chiropractors who are still very successful in practice, but it is very true that it is difficult to be successful in practice and I probably would not recommend chiropractic as a career choice because of the very high cost of education and the difficulties and inherent challenges that are somewhat unique to our profession. (more of my note to follow in next post)

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  6. (continuation of my previously truncated post)
    In order for a chiropractor to be successful in practice, he or she must be very passionate about the profession and the value of the chiropractic adjustment, be a very motivating and convincing communicator, must be willing to ethically "sell" chiropractic for the patient's best and highest benefit, and never stop marketing. I would like to encourage all the readers of this blog to always keep yourself encouraged. I am so sorry for any bad experiences you have had with failing in practice and experiencing debt. I wish you the very best in your life and in whatever work you choose. Please understand that if chiropractic is practiced ethically, it is a very wonderful and noble profession. The subluxation is an elusive phenomenon, I agree. There are scam artists and quacks in our profession, that is true, of course. However, the chiropractic adjustment is very powerful and any chiropractor who has been in practice even for a short time would attest to the efficacy of the adjustment. Maybe the chiropractic adjustment is not "scientific" enough or maybe chiropractic is too much of an art and a philosophy for some. Nevertheless, I have had many, many, many, many skeptical patients whose spouses forced them to get examined and treated in my office. They came in "kicking and screaming" and grumpy, telling me they didn't "believe in" chiropractic. But after a few visits, many of these people attested to me and my staff that their physical malady had resolved... too many conditions to name. Maybe the healing was placebo effect or coincidence, but we should have had many and very frequent happy "coincidences" through the years! I urge you never to make light of the chiropractic adjustment... never discredit it simply because you did not have a successful experience of being in practice. This does not mean that chiropractic care is not necessary or beneficial or life-giving. And please don't assert or imply that I am "selling" chiropractic as a good chiropractor should. I have experienced it for 11 years in practice and I used to be very skeptical of the efficacy of the adjustment. I am not trying to convince myself of chiropractic's validity by sharing what I've experienced. I'm just trying to encourage all the readers of this excellent (and needed) blog in any way that I can. Please feel free to email me and I will take some time with you and do my best to keep you encouraged and give you some pointers on how to help more people in your practice. I am slower than I would like to be right now in practice b/c times are more difficult and I'm probably not as enthusiastic about practice as I used to be. Nevertheless, if I can help another chiropractor to use his or her skills to serve more patients ethically and for the patient's greates benefit, then I would be glad to do this. I am not a coach or professional consultant and I will not charge you anything. I'm offering this only to help. If there are any chiropractors reading my note who would like to share encouragement with me or strategies for how I can help more people, please be in touch with me. I believe that God created us and placed us on Earth to serve one another and we should take pleasure in helping others if we can. I wish everyone the very best!

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  7. This blog post was absolutely fantastic. When I used to work in electroplating they sometimes encouraged us to write, but I could never come up with something as well written as that Exeter Chiropractic

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