23 July 2011, by tpotisk
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!”
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