July 2011

Chiropractor Commits Suicide: 10 Tips for the Rest of Us

Chiropractor and suicide are two words that don’t belong in the same sentence. Sadly I recently learned of another DC who took his own life . May God bring some peace to the family.

This was the second suicide of a chiropractor that I’ve heard about this year. I knew both these doctors but had not had any contact with them for several years. Both these docs were known to be excellent clinicians, but those who knew them more closely and recently told me  that part of their difficulty was having a struggling practice. A sad ending.

I wish now that I would have kept in touch, assisted them, consoled them, or provided whatever help I could to prevent the tragedy. I bet you wish you could have helped also.

The next best thing I can do is share with you, what I would have told them. So here are a few important thoughts that all DCs need to keep in mind as we navigate our way through the jungle of being a chiropractor.

1)      It’s all a bunch of crap! LOL! I bet you didn’t expect that. It’s a line my dad use to say, not to be taken literally, but meaning that no problem is so serious that you have to end your life over it. BJ Palmer’s most famous epitaph is “Don’t take yourself too damn seriously!” – (he hung that sign over the Men’s urinal!). Sure, you’ve dedicated your life to chiropractic, perhaps you’re in deep debt because of it, and no doubt people are looking up to you and depending on you to be a success; but success is not all about money, big house, fancy cars etc. No, success means you and I keep going through the thick and thin of it all, through the lean times, through the lawsuits, through the insurance payment reductions, the managed care, the never ending loads of paperwork, regulations, staff turnovers, and occasional hostile patients. We keep on keeping on no matter what. That’s what wins wars, marathons, and contests.  It’s what holds marriages together, nations, and religions that have survived for centuries. It’s what has kept the entire profession of chiropractic going for over a century. We need each and every DC to keep on keeping on! You are part of the family and families stick together. It’s a “no fail” situation. The public needs you, period!

2)      This is the noblest of professions. It truly is. I place it above being a brain surgeon, rocket scientist, pastor, or politician. I’m not kidding. This principle that real health comes from within as a gift from God is profound and unique. Next to the Jesus story, this chiropractic story is the best I know of on the planet. It’s no surprise that most of the population doesn’t get it, yet. It’s the ‘yet” that excites me and should do the same for you. The potential help that chiropractic can provide the world’s population is stunning. The opportunities for us are mind-boggling. So be grateful that God has blessed you and me with this chiropractic principle, even with all the difficulties that can come with it. You’ve been called; do you realize that? Yep! And it’s grand.

3)      Embrace the frustration. We all feel it. Consider it another blessing – a call to action. I know it’s frustrating when some patients don’t show up, don’t pay, just want their back pain relieved, and  then call you on a Sunday evening for an emergency. When you are dealing with people, this activity is expected from a few of them. When you accept people as they are then all or most of the frustration vanishes. Keep tweaking your procedures and policies, keeping them customer friendly, to minimize these frustrations. All professions face this same challenge.

4)      Speak up. By this I mean 2 things. First, freely share your gift of enlightenment about real health with your community, what it is, how to get it and how to keep it. You will likely feel enormous relief by sharing that gift. For most of us, it’s our calling to be messengers. Keep in mind that it often falls on deaf ears. All we can really do is plant the seeds. But communicating the message brings amazing fulfillment. Secondly, tell your trusted friends, colleagues  and family of your difficulties and frustrations. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seek professional assistance. I did many times.  My favorite practice management coaching service is PM&A. The solutions will likely come from those who have faced the same challenges.

5)        Make changes. The world has been in continual change since its creation. You and I have to change along with it. This includes not only updating your office, your staff, your equipment, and your procedures; it also and most importantly means updating “you”. Take an attitude of continual learning for a lifetime. Take some classes in the evenings, read books, watch training videos, or get a new certification. Continually, tweak you consultations, examination, xray analysis, and adjusting skills.

6)      Get more spiritual. It’s the glue that holds all your being together. The Bible is the first place I turn when the world seems to bearing down on me. You’’ll  find a splendid congruency between chiropractic principles and Christianity. We need a strong spiritual foundation to deal with all that “crap” my dad labeled in #1 above. My favorite class to teach is called Bible Based Health care. Read and ponder on the magnificence of  Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

7)      Create problems. This sounds odd but what I mean is that there will always be some level of difficulties so you might as well get in control and create some. I always sought to keep  my practice growing, partly because I felt an obligation, but also because I wanted that control. I cherished and aimed for problems like getting so busy that we run out of xray film and headrest paper. I strived to market my classes such that we ran out of chairs for the attendees. I got so active in my community that a few locals complained that no matter where they looked they saw either me or my name. LOL! These are the problems you and I need to have.

8)      Seek out giants and learn from them. “Giant” is a label I place on DCs who are truly successful. True giants are rare, usually humble, and generally low key so you have to search hard to identify them. When you find them, ask them if you can observe them at work for at least a short time. True giants will welcome you. I did this consistently throughout my 25 years of practice, identifying and visiting about 2 dozen giants. I learned more by doing this than from any seminars. This is the most effective way a DC can improve him/herself. I explain more details about this, and reveal the giants I learned from in the chapter called “Following Giants” in new ebook called Reclaim the Joy of Practice: An Advanced Guide for Advancing Doctors.  You can order it securely by clicking HERE.

9) Be congruent. Most suicide cases include depression. Don’t hesitate to seek out a mental health professional if necessary. But in addition, ask yourself “Am I living congruently with the title of chiropractor?” Check your lifestyle basics. Are you getting adjusted regularly and consistently, eating wholesome foods, exercising daily, socializing frequently, and getting adequate sleep. These habits are essential for whole health. It’s never too late to get back on the right track.

10) Make it fun. Doctoring is serious business but can and should be fun. I have a friend who plays Christmas music in his office on the 25th of every month, even in summer! Then he walks around grinning as all the patients ask “What the heck…?” Another friend wears a tie everyday and they all have cartoon characters on them! If you want to avoid going crazy then act a little crazy in a fun way.

We need every chiropractor we’ve got. Let’s keep an eye on each other. If you know a struggling DC please pass this article on to them. Call a colleague you haven’t connected with for awhile and ask “How’s it going over there?”

In the famous words of George Washington “If we don’t hang together, we’ll each hang separately!”

Be sure and get my free reports to help grow your practice available on the right side of this website.

Have you seen my other popular web/blog sites? http://www.wholehealthhealing.com and http://www.thedowntoearthdoctor.com.

Want to share a comment, contact me at tpotisk@aol.com.

See more chiropractic books.

Categories: burnout/stress, chiropractic book


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Chiropractor Salary: 7 Secrets Revealed

Chiropractor salaries and incomes are extremely variable. I know some Doctors of Chiropractic (DC) who earn very little, and I know some who make millions, and I know many that make the average which according to 2 good sources is between $94,000 and $120,000 per year.

Why the extreme variation in chiropractor’s incomes?

#1) This is common amongst professions like chiropractic that have a high percentage of self employment. The same variability occurs in the fields of dentistry and law. The harder the professional works the more they make.

#2) The doctors overhead expenses are also variable. Some DCs run a high overhead practice, perhaps with multiple staff, multiple doctors, and large office spaces, while others practice solo with perhaps 1 or 2 staff in a small setting.

#3) Some DCs offer multiple services to their patients while others have a more simplistic and uniform billing system. This “case average” varies tremendously and also and has a profound effect on income.

#4) Many DCs continue to practice a few hours per week long into typical retirement years and earn very little, mostly because of their love for the profession. This skews the average salary lower.

I assume there are 2 types of readers of this article. One type is perhaps a student considering chiropractic as a career. The other type is an established DC looking for information to either compare their own salary to others or are looking for ways to boost their salary. I have advice for both below.

If you are a prospective chiropractor you must first understand what chiropractic is. It is a science art and philosophy of things natural and holistic specifically focusing on the human body’s inborn ability to get and be healthy. Chiropractor’s understand that the nervous system controls and coordinates all body systems and functions either directly or indirectly, and that misalignment of spinal structure causes interference or blockage of the nerve inpulses. This is called vertebral subluxation. Chiropractors correct this with adjustments. The safety, cost effectiveness and high patient satisfaction is well established.

Because of the high level of art in the profession, particularly the hands-on aspect of the detection and correction of the subluxation, there exists a high variability of the services and charges. To me, as a DC for over 25 years, this “high level of art” and it’s complications are an attribute not a detriment. The art has been virtually minimized if not eliminated from conventional medicine, much to their demise.

Thus, prospective chiropractors should not be dismayed by the variability of chiropractic salaries, as it is very justified.

For those of you readers who are comparing salaries with peers or seeking to improve their own salary, I offer the following:

1) Compare and despair. Because of the high variability in practice styles, billing, sizes, etc it is near impossible to get an accurate comparison. Likely, one will find disappointment in comparing, especially with inaccurate information. So, realize that the average salary  does not mean much. Do not let it discourage you.

2) Most of the DCs that have much higher than normal incomes have several common characteristics. They generally do a lot of marketing to attract large volumes of patients. They generally employ multiple doctors and profit from them. They generally are sincerely dedicated to helping others, and love people. All of these characteristics can be improved upon if you are lacking them.

3) It’s nearly impossible to be both a busy, loving, caring doctor and good manager. The 2 conflict with each other. So most of the highly successful DCs have management either in the form of an employed manager or they subscribe to coaching/management services so they can focus their efforts on being exceptional doctors.

Patients want doctors that enjoy what they are doing.Therefore, doctors seeking to improve their incomes can do so by improving themselves and reclaiming the joy of practice, particularly by focusing on being an excellent doctor, and let somebody else focus on the practice management.

Be sure and get my valuable free reports on the right side of this website.

My new ebook called Reclaim the Joy of Practice: An Advanced Guide for Advancing Doctors is full of ethical and easy  practice boosting and  income growing tips. It’s available for order at the top of this site.

Have you seen my other popular web/blog sites? http://www.wholehealthhealing.com and http://www.thedowntoearthdoctor.com.

Categories: salary/income


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