Starting out chiropractor

Starting out chiropractor has a few tips for the young graduate.

Dear Dr Preston,

My name is M, I grew up knowing friends of yours. My best friend Stephen is their son. They kindly gave me your address.

I remember shaking your hand back in November 2006 at the Welsh institute of Chiropractic when you came to give a talk on the ‘financial management of Chiropractic and the need for life long learning’. You also kindly signed a copy of your book, FROG IN MY THROAT and introduced me to your wife who was travelling with you.

Frog in my Throat

Frog in my Throat is Bernard Preston's first book of chiropractic anecdotes; it concerns the young graduate's struggle for survival in a hostile environment in South Africa where the register had been closed. Whilst chiropractic wasn't banned, the minister of health had decided to allow the profession to die a natural death, starved of new blood.

Said minister must be turning in his grave; South Africa has one of the healthiest environments to practice in today with excellent legislation controlling the profession.

Frog in my Throat will resonate with every starting out chiropractor.

I am currently in my clinical and final year of study and will graduate mid July this year. I am weighing up my options for the future and was wondering if you had any advice for a starting out Chiropractor?

I have contemplated working abroad and after reading your book I am very curious about South Africa. I would like to ask your opinion on the current economic climate and what it might be like to practise in South Africa. Additionally I was wondering if you might also have any contacts in the UK.

If it’s not too forward I also wanted to ask how you have found your faith and relationship with Jesus to impact your work life as a Chiropractor. If you could share any bits of wisdom that you have picked up over the years they would be greatly appreciated.

Yours Sincerely,


Hello M, yes, of course, I remember you well.

Soon to be Dr M! Does it feel good? Start to believe it. The count down has begun... only 4-5 months. About 150 days and you will be a doctor!

Um, Starting Out Chiropractor is quite a tricky subject, and I don't want to give too hasty and superficial an answer.

Your first year is an important year. A VERY IMPORTANT YEAR. Becoming a clinically safe and sound chiropractor is difficult in itself. One might think that a cervical facet syndrome is a cervical facet syndrome is a cervical facet syndrome, but there are so many variables, each is unique and needs to be managed in its own way. One is also dizzy, another has pain in the arm, a third recent trauma, another advanced IMMOBILISATION ARTHRITIS ... So, lots of cases... a busy practice is where I recommend you should start.

But a busy practice under good, positive direction. Frankly, even after 30 years, I still find managing cases difficult. Each has its quirks. So lots of support, positive support, not a highly critical attitude, is vital. Many fail, losing their confidence at this, the first hurdle.

Thus, at Starting Out Chiropractor, look for a busy practice, not one where you are fighting for new patients. Not on your own. And one where the director is a positive and affirming person.

I'd take my time looking for such a person. Clinic directors can be crabby, difficult people, money grabbing... but you can learn a vast amount from the right person.

I'm hesitant to recommend practice building seminars. So many are simply hell-bent on turning you into a millionaire, many times over; greed seems to be the underlying principle.

However, if you can find a nitch that is using the Chimes principles, they will send you to the seminars, at their cost, where you will learn many basic good practices on how to get people well. And that's what it's all about.

Google Chimes Chiropractic and see what you can find.

Then on top of the technical part, there's the people part. People are difficult, especially when they are in pain. They have to be handled in a supportive, yet directive way so that they go through the process of getting well. That includes convincing them that the money is money well spent. These people skills take perhaps even longer to learn than the chiropractic skills that you must hone.

New patients will cancel after the first treatment, and you need to be strong; learn from the experience, and accept it will happen. It still happens to me after 30 years, and not only for a starting out Chiropractor. Some you win, some you lose; you need broad shoulders. If you have a crabby boss, he's likely to be overbearing, complaining, Why did you screw up?

I'm not being negative. It is a reality.

It's perhaps easier for a starting out Chiropractor to learn the people skills in a language you know, amongst a people you know. But I know of two young chiros who straight out of college in the States have made a great start in Holland. It can be done; with difficulty. Now you're adding a third element, a new language.

In my third book, Chiropractic stories from Holland, STONES IN MY CLOG you may get a few ideas of the difficulties of starting up in a foreign country.

The book stones in my clog.

South Africa is a beautiful country, lovely people, marvellous weather, but financially poor. And there are quite a lot of chiros with two colleges. It's not that easy making out here. I'm mentoring my daughter, who had a bad start with a very critical over-bearing chiro, lost her confidence, and is only now regaining it. I have just returned from seven years in the Netherlands, otherwise I'd offer you a position with us, but we have only just opened our clinic and currently we just don't have enough patients. Contact me again in a few months, if you still feel SA to be a good destination. You won't save any money here, but it would be a good place to cut your teeth. In Holland you could start paying off loans! It's a very wealthy country, and short of chiros. But Dutch is difficult, very difficult. Still, starting now, with Ans' support, you could learn Dutch in six months.

Research Review Service

Presumably like all starting out Chiropractors you had to participate in COLLEGE RESEARCH TOPICS ... It would also be sensible to look for a practice where you could get experience in your particular field of interest. Say for example, you did research on the Chiropractic management of CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME ...

It would make no sense to join a practice that does no or little extremity work, or even discourages the treatment of extremities as being outside the realm of Chiropractic. There are indeed still such fringe practices about.

I would also strongly suggest you sign up for Research Review service ... keeping abreast of the new research is vital for a young person starting out. I believe they have a discounted price for new graduates.

College research topics

College research topics are relevant not only to the student; graduates worth their salt will want to continue in the process of life long learning. They may mean continuing with their studies, but at least continue in that manner of thinking.

For the starting out chiropractor I consider it vital he or she continues to question everything.

Chiropractic Books

There are a huge number of Chiropractic books in print, many you will find at this site. You've already read Frog in my Throat ... one young chiropractor's experience of starting out.

Now perhaps choose one long dead chiropractor. Dr Joseph Janse was one such genius. Soundly based in anatomy and science you will get some idea of the philosophy and struggles of the early chiropractors.

Then one modern chiropractor who has become a beacon in the profession. Scott Haldeman I'm sure is a name you are familiar with. Reading this inspiring book will surely motivate you to greater heights.

The book called the Journey of Scott Haldemann.

Lonely road of faith

It's wonderful to be able to pray for patients, a great privilege. Right now we have a very difficult case, young girl with a severe TMJ/ upper cervical headache. So bad, at 14 she's been put off school for 6 months. She's been through the mills (ask Ans what "door de molen geweest" means!) and the medics have found nothing. After 3 treatments there was no improvement. So Jane and I prayed for her, and hey presto, this week, she's had the best two days in 6 months.

It helps one to relax, knowing that He cares for their health a good deal more than we do. Every hair on their heads count! And every now and then one gets definite direction: don't do it that way, do it like this...

Faith is a journey; it has a definite beginning, but every day should add a new dimension to your struggle with faith. It's not an easy journey for most; many of life's lessons have to be learnt in the pit of despair.

Half baked medic

There seem to be a significant number of chiropractors who appear to be frustrated medics. All they want to do is prescribe drugs and use other medical techniques. An over abundance of physiotherapy modalities, blood tests, scans and pushing vitamins.

Don't get me wrong. I believe in making a diagnosis, using modalities and rehab exercises. But our core is manipulation. It's what gives us our uniqueness, never lose sight of that. Plan to become an excellent adjustor. And that takes practice, practice, never being satisfied and content.

Starting out chiropractor

Read, read, read....

Starting out chiropractor should spend lots of time reading. Spend some of that time browsing my other site: It'll give you some insights into what it's like at the Chiropractic Coalface.

Fire away, M, ask more questions...Take care, I hope this has contributed to your search at starting out chiropractor,

Bernard Preston, DC

Better health naturally

Better health naturally is one of the claims made by chiropractic; how does it stand up to scrutiny? And what does it mean for the starting out chiropractor?

It can be argued that manipulating the joints of the body is not natural at all, but it's certainly a lot less unnatural than sticking needles and scalpels, and drugs into the body.

Nevertheless, most starting out chiropractors have a notion of being part of natural healing. Certainly we have a long tradition of being in bed with naturopathic medicine. My own wish is that we would stay close to the roots and spend more time convincing our patients to eat better, and exercise more; that's better health naturally too and fundamentally part of chiropractic in my book. 

Other useful links @ starting out chiropractor

Physical Therapists providing a Chiropractic adjustment?

Many insurance companies now only pay for physical therapists to provide a chiropractic adjustment; that's in the face of powerful research proving that inclusion of DCs to perform their own technique would save them a good deal of money. One has to conclude that political medicine has gone off on another tack to contain our profession.

It's being successful with some doctors of chiropractic quitting. Others become involved in some dodgy practices, like demanding that patients sign up for a whole year of treatment in advance, in order to stay in business.

In recessionary times, the going is tough when the insurance won't pay.

Is the day approaching for a new Wilk versus the AMA and the insurance companies?

The chiropractic profession has tried hard to stay on the moral high ground; those who stoop to unscrupulous practices need to be exposed and disciplined if we are not to stoop to the low blows that medicine has often resorted to contain and eliminate us.

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