It takes hard work, a commitment to next-level patient care, and a whole host of skills to graduate from a chiropractic college. Not surprisingly, new grads will capitalize on those same three qualities to ensure success as a doctor of chiropractic.
Here’s the thing, though. Once you’re out of chiropractic college, you’ll need to shift your thinking to the realities of patient expectations and efficient business operations practices. However, you must also have a solid understanding of what kind of personal effort is required to achieve success. A mantra to remember after graduation: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”
Dr. Noah Volz is a chiropractor who’s studied the topic of chiropractic success. In an article published in the American Chiropractic Association’s ACAToday publication, Volz wrote about “10 Survival Skills” for new chiropractic college graduates. He formulated these from discussions with Dr. Bobby Maybee, creator of the 3,200-plus member of the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance.
Although it’s common for students not to think beyond graduation because of school demands, Volz advises that it’s never too early to begin positioning yourself for success. “What it takes to survive school and practice,” Volz says, “are two different things.
Here’s a recap of those 10 top survival skills:
#1. Be willing to ask yourself the hard questions.
By this, Volz reminds chiropractic college graduates to fully understand what they need to be successful and seek out that opportunity. For example, he advises grads to know if their best first step is to locate a preceptorship, seek out an associate position, or investigate ownership or co-ownership of a practice.
#2. The harder you work, the luckier you get.
Most young chiropractors who come into practice, Volz writes, “may look around and say to themselves, ‘I can do this, too.’ That is rarely true.”
In reality, young chiropractors tend to underestimate what it takes to run a successful practice and confess they didn’t focus enough on career success strategies and tactics while in school. Many chiropractic colleges provide shadowing opportunities and offer specific coursework in how to operate a successful chiropractic practice.
It’s up to students, however, to learn all they can from these courses and experiences in addition to regular chiropractic coursework and clinic experiences. Examples include the intricacies of securing an office location, the art and science of hiring employees, and developing a mutually beneficial referral network of M.D.s and other chiropractors. Making wise decisions in these areas means acquiring knowledge and doing careful analysis.
“There’s a lot of sweat equity you must invest, a lot of long days,” Volz reminds, “and there will be many things you don’t want to do but have to do anyway.”
#3. Naiveté is not your friend.
Volz cautions that, like it or not, “there are people out there who will want to take advantage of your inexperience.” In chiropractic college, faculty and staff are there to back you up. In the real world, this third survival skill is defined as “making sure you know as much or more than everyone around you, and that takes effort.”
#4. Adopt a video game mentality.
By this, Volz captures Maybee’s advice that many of the most successful chiropractors early on understood they will always encounter traps, barriers, but there’s always a way out. Success-minded chiropractors adapt by “putting aside their ego, trying different things, and learning to go around the pitfalls.”
#5. Negotiating your way forward.
With nearly half of all chiropractors becoming owners for co-owners of a chiropractic business, it makes sense that becoming a good chiropractor also means becoming a good negotiator.
Volz mentions that negotiating with rental agencies, equipment providers, and various vendors is a necessary skill. He says there will be many contracts in your future, and it’s important to learn from each one if you want long-term success.
#6. Practice continuous learning and training
Volz says Maybee’s advice is to time at the beginning of your career learning as much as you can about all jobs within a chiropractic practice. Know the proper way to fold laundry. Know the steps to clean the adjusting tables. Know how to streamline administrative procedures for convenience to patients.
“Once you have the basics, then you can take on more management-familiar roles,” Volz says.
#7. Practice never giving up.
You didn’t give up your patient-care dream when faced with difficult times in chiropractic college, and that determination is extremely valuable during those first few years in practice. “You’re going to fail, sometimes,” he writes, “but if you keep getting up, you are going to win.”
#8 Patient-centered care always wins.
The #8 survival skill is never to waver from the idea that patients are customers who can choose where they can get their care. Being patient-centered translates into delivering what the patient expects, “and what each patient would benefit from based on their preferences, your personal experience, and the best evidence.”
#9. Communication is the prelude to success.
According to Maybee’s analysis, Volz says, “communicating with people effectively and making sure you demonstrate empathy is “the biggest predictors of success” in chiropractic practices.
Observe those who have easily build and maintain trusted patient-provider relationships. Match their approach and style it to your personality.
#10. Learning is a lifetime endeavor.
The final “survival skill” for success as a doctor of chiropractic, Volz summarizes, is that while chiropractic college does end, efforts to improve personally and professionally never should.
Best of all, you can add new knowledge pretty easily while you’re in school. In this blog, see how joining campus organizations and clubs can help prepare you for a better life as a chiropractor.
Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a private, nonprofit university specializing in the chiropractic and health sciences. Founded in 1922, more than 11,000 U.S. chiropractors have earned the Doctor of Chiropractic degree through our College of Chiropractic.
The 34-acre CUKC campus is in Overland Park, Kan., a large Kansas City suburb. In 2021, Niche rated Overland Park #4 in the U.S. for “Best Cities to Raise a Family” and #4 for “Best Cities to Live.”
There are multiple pathways to your CUKC Doctor of Chiropractic degree:
There’s never been a better time to learn more about chiropractic college at CUKC. Contact an advisor, and you’ll get our free eBook: Your Complete Guide to the Chiropractic Profession.