Q: I have read your MMM for years, most of your books, use some of your materials daily in my practice and I have enjoyed and benefited from your take on chiropractic care from the patient's perspective.
I am now, by necessity, at the end of my practicing career, and not really by choice. Essentially, I have physically worn out after 21 years in daily practice. Well not just from being in practice, but an accumulation of life's events.
I can’t recall any of your writings on "saying good bye and leaving the practice."
For me two things come to mind as I reflect over the years in practice.
1. I was privileged and able to help a lot of different people of the years. I always enjoyed looking after the ones who stuck around for years, watching as they got married, had kids and watching the kids grow up. Or being around as people approached retirement and began to travel and enjoy their lives after the career was over.
2. I always was honest with people seeking care with me and did the best I could to treat them fairly.
So as I leave practice, it's a strange time, emotionally. I didn't make enough money to retire from a really busy chiropractic practice. (But the real estate side helped a lot.)
So where is true success and self-satisfaction derived? Knowing you did a good job for years, or having a big bankroll of money from a busy impersonal practice? I know my answer, but would like to know your thoughts, as I am not the first person to feel this way I am sure.
And thanks for all you have done for the profession over the years!
A: Turns out, what you’re asking has little to do with chiropractic. The questions you pose can be asked of any one in any career. And these are not new questions. They have been asked since the beginning, by those of meager resources and even King Solomon, the wisest, most affluent man to walk the planet. His musings on this topic were recorded in Ecclesiastes. Read the entire book (it’s short) and you encounter someone for whom no pleasure or possession was denied. He ends his musings this way in Chapter 12:
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of a man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” NIV 12:13-14
In my travels there seems to be at least three ways in which practices come to an end:
Burn out in which the practitioner suffers from an unhealthy attachment to what patients do, which degenerates into anger and resentment. Patients are “problems” rather than opportunities.
Rust out in which the practitioner becomes “used up.” It’s that satisfying feeling of being physically exhausted after some honest good work. (Sounds like that’s where you may be.)
Pushed out in which pride and arrogance collaborate to humble the practitioner intent on the “my way or the highway” and "success on my terms" approaches. Ego and dogmatism combine to make the practitioner irrelevant.
My guess is that there isn’t a special place in heaven reserved for chiropractors. And while the judgment of patients makes a practice, the judgment of God is what makes a life. Congratulations for running the good race!