CARING IN CHIROPRACTIC

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In the busy day to day activity of practice, adjusting spines, analyzing x-rays, and a dozen other activities, do we really take the time to care about people? Are we concerned about our patients as human beings in need of a vital service or do we just see them as another spine or worse yet, another fee to be collected from an insurance company? If they are more than small bricks in the practice building program we are utilizing, do they know it? Do we really communicate to our patients somehow that we love them, are concerned about them, and are doing all that we possibly can to restore and maintain their health? One of the problems with the non-symptom oriented practice that “corrects vertebral subluxations because they in and of themselves are harmful to the organism” is that the patient often assumes that the chiropractor’s lack of attention to their physical ailments is a disinterest in them. Even the gas station attendant greets the patient on the way to the chiropractic office with “how are you today?” It may be only a perfunctory greeting, but the chiropractor on the other hand avoids any greeting or conversation that could be misconstrued as eliciting information relative to the patient’s disease.
As if that were not enough, we now have a tremendous preoccupation with money among the profession. Years ago the “family doctor” took care of you and was paid according to the patient’s means. Historically, being a doctor was rewarded in great satisfaction, not in great wealth. Many a doctor was paid in produce or a scrawny chicken. Now you had better have all your insurance information in hand ready to be punched into the doctor’s computer before you even catch a glimpse of the doctor let alone be examined. Getting to see the doctor in this hi tech system is about as personal as having your car serviced at a dealer other than where you bought the car.
Lastly, and far from the least, is the problem of the large volume practice. While the number of volume practices appear to be decreasing, the fact remains that most chiropractors see quite a few patients in a short period of time. Perhaps it is not so much that chiropractors are seeing that many people but that they squeeze them into three six hour days a week. Did you ever wonder what the guy who works forty hours a week at the steel mill and barely scrapes by, thinks of you whose office hours represent half that time, no weekends, no night emergencies, no shift work. We must compensate for the resentment and envy that can easily develop. Instead we are often in and out of the room in a couple of minutes especially when the waiting room is backed up.
The impersonal, apparent lack of concern for people is fast becoming a problem in a profession that has been known for its concern for people and for the loyalty that it has developed in patients. If you listen to some of the stories old timers tell, you hear how 30, 40, 50 years ago there was a real love relationship between the chiropractor and his patients. He was willing to go to jail for adjusting them and they almost worshipped him for that commitment. That relationship appears to have gone by the wayside. Part of it may be due to the coldness of the 1980’s lifestyle. There are legitimate problems in trying to address ourselves to the difficulty that the modern chiropractic office presents. The chiropractor cannot get involved with the patients ailments without compromising the objectives of chiropractic.
Computers are fast becoming a necessity in the modern chiropractor’s office and seeing many patients does necessitate spending very little time with each patient.
The solution to the problem is two-fold. As with most problems in chiropractic, the primary solution is in patient education. If the patient understands why you are not interested in symptoms, not because you don’t care but because they are simply not good indicators of health, which you are vitally concerned about, this makes a great difference. We must educate patients to understand that we are dedicated to doing the one very best thing we can possibly do for their health correct vertebral subluxations. We must also make them understand that we see them for such a short time because that is all it takes to turn on the force within their bodies and because love of humanity demands we see as many people as possible. But education in this particular problem is not enough! We must truly love people. Maybe each chiropractor should periodically reassess himself or herself and determine whether he or she really has a love for humanity. If not, well… better get into another line of work. If you do, then communicate that to the patients. That doesn’t mean every chiropractor must be Leo Buscaglla. Frankly; his gushy “hug everybody” love concept turns me off! But, we must somehow communicate to our patients that they are the reason for our existence. The busier the office, the more efficient and more modern the office, the greater need. Try thinking of an idea each week for the next month that will demonstrate to the patients that you love them and care for them. Try it and see how it works. You may be pleasantly surprised at the changes in your attitude and that of your patients.

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