Thanks to Today's Chiropractic for permission to reproduce this article!
By Pat Gayman, D.C.
Expand your capacity for
service, for commitment to chiropractic, for establishing clear priorities,
for leadership, and for living, and you will expand your practice. The ability
to do this starts with your vision for your future and your desire to make a
difference in the lives of your patients, in your community, and in the world.
B.J. Palmer, D.C., Ph.C. talked about the Big Idea. He envisioned
that if one person fell, and ultimately went to a chiropractor, that it was
possible to make a difference in the world that started with that one man being
fully alive physically, mentally, and emotionally as a result of being adjusted.
Ask yourself, What is my Big Idea? How can you serve more people
and ultimately make a significant contribution toward making this world a better
place? What you envision provides the foundation for the service component of
expanding your capacity. Once you have the vision clearly in mind, it takes
a plan to bring it into reality. This is where a lot of practitioners fail.
They simply open their office doors and wait for people to show up to be adjusted.
The successful doctors have a plan; actually, they have several plans.
First is a business plan. Yes, you are in business, and your practice will thrive
if you treat it as such. A business plan will help you establish a reasonable
prediction of expenses and projections of income. It will also help you realize
the demographics of your community and that will help you establish a reasonable
marketing plan. There is a lot of help available to assist you in writing a
business plan. Look to the Small Business Administration for guidelines. You
may find services in your community that are set up to help small businesses
succeed. Call your chamber of commerce or your local college to find more resources.
Whether you are just starting in practice, or whether you have been in practice
for a while and are ready to grow, it is a good idea to have a working business
Next is a marketing plan. Before you begin marketing your practice be sure that
you not only have the capacity to manage the new patients you intend to attract,
but also that you can handle the increase as they become regular patients. Analyze
your schedule and ask yourself these questions. How many hours a week do you
dedicate to patient care? How much time do you spend per patient? How long does
it take you to process a new patient during the first visit? How long does it
take for your report of findings on the second visit? Do you set aside time
for regular re-examinations of existing patients? How long does it take you
to perform the exam and to report your findings?
The answers to these questions will help you see how you can effectively expand
your capacity. Some of the steps you may take include such things as cutting
down on the time you spend with each patient, and setting aside specific times
during each day for new patients, reports and re-exams. Some doctors get caught
up in the rat race of trying to fit people in, only to create a backlog of fairly
disgruntled people who have to wait for their appointments. The way to build
a stable, growing practice is to always take care of your scheduled patients
first. It is wise to post a policy that says walk-ins will only
be seen after scheduled patients are taken care of. You will have far happier
patients when they realize that you honor your commitments, which is really
what an appointment is.
plans should include both in-house (patient appreciation) type activities and
community-oriented activities designed to bring in new people. Your existing
patients can be your greatest source of new patients if you educate them well
and ask them to refer others. This all sounds pretty simple but there are many
doctors who concentrate so much on clinical expertise and results, that they
fail to remember that their most important job responsibilities are to find
and remove subluxations, and to educate their patients.
The concept of removing interference and allowing innate intelligence to do
the healing is not yet a well-known concept. It requires that people make a
complete paradigm shift from the outside-in ideas they have been
taught from the allopathic model, and it is your job to teach them. Learning
occurs by repetition, so no matter how brilliant you think your report of findings
may be, you have to repeat parts of it in small bites each time
you see a patient. Then, listen well, and be aware of opportunities to ask them
to refer others for the same quality care they are receiving. If you are managing
the growth in your office and giving excellent service, people will happily
refer others to you.
To expand your practice, expand your commitment to chiropractic. Sometimes the
business of practice overshadows the reason you chose to become a chiropractor.
Your ability to be of service through chiropractic is dependent on the growth
and survival of this great profession. Since practice is so often a solo activity
it is easy to become isolated from others in the profession who think and practice
and love it as you do.
There are many ways to stay involved including publishing your own articles,
conducting research, becoming active politically, or joining and participating
in one or more of the chiropractic organizations. You may choose to attend seminars,
or set up a philosophy group in your community, or offer to share your knowledge
and wisdom at one of the chiropractic colleges. When you are involved you have
a sense of ownership that will help you stay focused and on purpose about why
you have chosen to be a chiropractor.
Expand your capacity, tell the chiropractic story to everyone you meet, be in
readiness to serve more and more people, and watch your life become enriched
in all the ways you have dreamed.
Patricia Gayman, D.C., was in private practice for 28 years
after which she continued her service as Dean of Clinics and Professor of Philosophy
at Life West Chiropractic College. She is on the continuing education faculty
at three chiropractic colleges. Currently Dr. Gayman owns and operates Capacity
Coach, a life skills and business coaching service. She maintains her involvement
in chiropractic by managing a chiropractic office, as chair of the ICA Practice
Mastery committee and as a contributing writer to several publications. She
can be contacted at capacitycoach.com.
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