BURN OUT OR GET OUT

As a practice broker, I can put together creative practice sales, but my real strength is in coaching the Transition.  This involves keeping all the patients in the practice who love chiropractic and depend on being as subluxation free as possible.  What worries me the most though are the calls I get all too regularly where the doctor says he is quitting chiropractic altogether.  It’s fine if you have practiced 30 + years.  But not after 15 or twenty years.  I had one doctor tell me the other day that he was going back to teaching high school.  Another said that he was going to medical school.  I question myself – have they just lost their love for all things natural in healing, or has the profession let these doctors down?  Chiropractic certainly never let me down.  I love chiropractic.  One thing I learned is that we make wrong choices and let ourselves down.  Also, if you put faith in people to come through for you, sometimes you are very hurt and frustrated when they don’t do as you expect.  Also, if you think any profession or business is better or without problems by now you learned that is just not true.  I question these disillusioned doctors – has their identity as a doctor gone askew or has their ego been bruised because some person or group did not give them enough appreciation?  I felt these whispers too in my 30 years of practice – but it never made me question the validity of the adjustment, or the good I did for my patients.  When I put all my energy into that next patient under my hands, my self appreciation mode vanished!  Yes, this disillusionment I hear from those doctors who want to sell their practices after 15 years concerns me.  I know there is a time in life where we look back and realize we are not going to have several million dollars saved up from all our hard work.  There may also be that time when we know what lies ahead are the long hours spent bending over the table.  I know about disillusionment, but I also know you can’t dwell on it too long.  The cure is to be thankful for what chiropractic has given you personally as well as for the patients and family you serve.  Sometimes I hear bitterness from the doctors who want to walk away.  Here are things that increase burn out, disillusionment.

1)  Living too much in the world around us.

If you want to devalue chiropractic to yourself, and your service to patients, just listen and watch all the drug and medical advertisements everyday.  Listen to people talk about their surgeries and sickness and all the drugs they are taking.  Stop giving your new patient workshop and health lectures.  Watch TV commercials that companies have paid Wall Street ad strikers millions to convince people that more drugs equals more health.  We chiropractors must live and practice just opposite from the false promises of more synthetic drugs in the bloodstream.  In my early days of practice (1960’s, 1970’s) there was no insurance, no recognition, no research money and no prestige.  We used something else to move forward.  We got in groups of like minds.  We banded together to create our own recognition.  We did it by improving our techniques and concentrating on our results in practice.  In the free market – the proof is in the pudding.  We ran big ads – “We get results and that’s what counts”.  “Tired of taking pink pills, blue pills, red pills, TRY CHIOPRACTIC”.  We put out thousands and thousands of ads and tabloids with testimonial after testimonial how effective chiropractic adjustments were for these people.  We let the cured patient brag about chiropractic affectivity.  It’s hard to argue with a cured case.  You can’t ever think your love of chiropractic and its natural healing philosophy will just come in through the window of the world around you.  It’s a medical world out there, so you have to create a chiropractic world.  Never let the world’s natural currents take you away from what you have done and seen in your office.  Find like doctors, create a band of hard nosed chiropractors around you and reinforce your decision to be a powerful, healing chiropractor.  Start seeing the chiropractic lifestyle as better as and more important than anything else out there.  Start teaching everyone the “big idea” – that the body is always changing, and the chiropractic lifestyle is about doing daily health disciplines and staying as subluxation free as possible day after day after day – to change it for the better!

2) Never concentrate or depend on your practice to make you happy.

A lot of these doctors that call me think just because they help the patient, they should be rich and famous.  I found you can save millions out of your practice, but it takes planning and discipline.  Spending money is easy.  Debt is what the world uses to hold you in its grip.  To become debt free and save money every week takes sacrifice, dedication and planning.  My Dad told me I would save more $$ after I was 40 years old than when I was younger.  I did not think about this much, I was too busy until that day I felt the long hours and debt sapping my energy and dedication.  Something caught up with me that day I was driving to my office and my parking lot was full and I wanted to mash the gas petal to the floor and drive on by.  What my dad knew was what all aging athletes know - no matter how hard you train and work, you can’t compete as you did when you were younger.  If you want an action step from this essay, start today doctor, saving 10% of your total income and never spending it.  Learn to celebrate getting out of debt and having your human spirit free.  

3)  Live the spiritual life

In my Christian experience, we say advancement in the spiritual life is not about performance but surrender.  Hang out with other doctors and their families who do not take drugs and who celebrate chiropractic and living the natural chiropractic life style.  Get involved with a technique, a college, your state or national association and celebrate this truth – only God controls history.  Even with the mistakes of our politicians, God has blessed us and kept our principles of natural healing in tack all these years.  Don’t get too caught up with being successful and making a large income.  Measure your self worth by reflecting on how you spend your practice days.  Fill them up with serving others and looking for the miracles of healing innate is doing after your adjustment.  Measure your success by your faithfulness to your family, patients, profession and our principles.  Keep a long list of blessings God has brought you and take it out and read it over and over if you are disenchanted with your daily routine.  And lastly, if you are on a collision course with burn out or bitterness, don’t see yourself doing something else (unless you have saved several million) see God redirecting your steps, surrender your neediness to be more appreciated and have your ego stroked, pray to place others as more important than yourself. 

Thomas Outler Morgan DC
volumedc@aol.com