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Changing Patients

Can you change patients?I was recently admonished by a chiropractor who took offense to my criticizing of chiropractors in my Monday Morning Motivations. Instead of urging chiropractors to change " about helping patients to better understand their chiropractor?"

Gosh, I thought I'd been doing that for the last three decades through chiropractic videos, posters, brochures and report of findings supplies used for chiropractic education. At least that’s been my motive.

Apparently, this chiropractor believes that practice success is about changing patients.

I've been operating under the opposite assumption. I've always thought that since changing patients is so difficult and unlikely, practice success might be better achieved by changing chiropractors!

In case you haven't tried, change is difficult. Even among those who want to give up an unhelpful belief or habit, change is daunting. You've got to really want it to make it happen. And if you think personal change is difficult, try changing someone else! My guess is your spouse has tried. And with only limited success.

Changing patients is even a far greater task. By several magnitudes. But that doesn't stop many chiropractors from trying. Which is what creates many of the issues I write about from a patient's point of view.

That's because few patients show up in a chiropractic practice with the desire to understand the true nature of health and healing. Or change. Instead, patients are inclined to nod politely and largely follow the barest minimum commitment—showing up three times a week until the symptoms subside or their insurance carrier balks.

Naturally, show videos. Hand out brochures. Send patients home with the report materials to support their attempts to recreate your explanation to others. But when the dust settles, your ability to change patients' (beliefs) is far more difficult than changing their spinal biomechanics.

That's because if there is going to be any belief changing, the patient is going to do it.

In the same way you can't lose weight for someone else or put an end to someone else’s annoying habit, belief changing isn't something you can do to or for someone else. Worse, thinking that there’s some magic report scripting or practice procedure that will compel a patient to abandon their lifetime habit of symptom treating is preposterous or at least naïve.

Which brings us back to changing chiropractors.

Give a quick review to the top 10 qualities that contribute to a chiropractor's success and not a one depends upon patients understanding their chiropractor!

Philosophy – Do you have clarity about what chiropractic is and what it isn't? Is your intention congruent with the principles that make chiropractic a separate and distinct healing art? Or do you practice chiropractic medicine?

Purpose – Do you have a purpose beyond your own selfish survival? Do you know what business you are in? Do you recognize that your purpose is not to adjust patients—but that adjusting patient's helps fulfill or advance your purpose?

Clinical skills – Do you have the assessment and adjusting skills necessary to locate and reduce vertebral subluxation?

Certainty – Do you deliver on your clinical promises often enough to have high levels of confidence in your skills? Do you have objective proof? Or do you use your social skills to bluff or overpower a patient's curiosity about post X-rays?

Discipline – Do you do the right thing even if no one is watching? Do you honor your word? Do you acknowledge that there are no short cuts, free lunches or getting something for nothing?

Service – Do you show up as a humble servant? Or do you need to be the boss? Do you acknowledge that the patient is the doctor and you're a highly skilled facilitator, partner or guide?

Communications – Are you a good listener? Do you have the ability to express yourself and explain chiropractic in a persuasive and compelling way? Do you use metaphors, word pictures and other means to give your intervention context and meaning?

Marketing – Do you have an organized plan to alert your community about what chiropractic is and what you do? Do you have a website, conduct outreach events, give talks and embrace other opportunities to encounter strangers?

Attitude – Are you the most upbeat, optimistic and enthusiastic person that patients encounter? Do you communicate hope? Are you an inspiration to others? How many patients and staff members have you stirred to become a chiropractor?

Patience – Are you able to delay gratification? Do you trust the principles of chiropractic and have sufficient faith to persevere?

Reminds me of the old saw, "You can't change the world, but when you change, the world changes."

Same thing here. This is about trimming your sails to adapt to the wind. It's certainly not about investing your life spirit in things you can't control—such as what patients say, think or do!

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From December 10, 2012 5:41 PM

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 10, 2012 5:41 PM.

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