Graduating from Chiropractic College is no easy feat and is quite the accomplishment – so give yourself credit for all the hard work you’ve done or are currently doing! Certainly, when I graduated, I felt a great sense of relief and I was excited to take on the next journey of life: working as a chiropractor. Now, six months into practicing at a busy clinic, I have learned many things not found in textbooks. However, new questions arise every day. It has been quite an adjustment from what college prepares and teaches you to do with patients in the office. College teaches you all the important information it takes to become a well-rounded Doctor and Chiropractor, however, I have noticed that there are many things that come up throughout practice that you can simply never obtain in school.
Communication with patients can be be a struggle at first. In your college clinic you may have had a very limited experience with “real” patients, i.e. those who were not either your friends from other trimesters or students from other programs. Some of your patients, maybe even most of your patients, will have trouble understanding your scientific terminology during a consultation. Sometimes this includes what a vertebrae is or that you have a disc in-between the vertebrae. Patients generally want to know three things: Why am I in pain?, What can you do to help me? and How much is it going to cost? I have learned very quickly to explain these three things as fast as possible and as clearly as I can. Try not to say too much and use terms that everyone can understand, because clarity is key.
Learning to curb your own expectations with patients is another obstacle. You will not be able to heal or help every patient that walks through your doors. Realize that you need to curb your expectations with each patient and communicate these expectations with the patient as well. Not all patients will heal completely, but if you make them feel just 10% better than when they walked in, then that will make a huge difference. Also, know that what we do as chiropractors is greater than any surgical or drug based therapy. Being an enthusiastic, positive force in a patient’s life can be a better treatment then any therapy or adjustment. For some patients, that is exactly what they need.
One last point that you must realize is that you are, in fact, a salesman. You cannot begin to help a patient if you cannot get them to commit to or believe in your treatment. My advice is to be enthusiastic, positive and confident with every single patient and everything you do in your practice. Patients can sometimes bring in negative energy, so it is important to be a positive force in their life. Be enthusiastic with the fact that you yourself believe in chiropractic care and that your treatment is the best option for them. Again this comes down to great patient communication.
The transition from Chiropractic College to the real world is no easy task. Be prepared to learn and learn quickly as the first 6 months can be quite a challenge. Have faith, it is also a fun and exciting time in your new professional life!
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