CF 101: What Makes A Good Chiropractor – 9 Characteristics
Today we’re going to talk about going to a chiropractor and how to tell your out-of-town loved ones how to choose a good one on their own. Without your help even! We’re also going to talk about being the kind of chiropractor that your colleagues are happy to send their family to.
But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music
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You have collapsed into Episode #101
Now if you missed last week’s episode, we covered a lot of research. It was Episode 100 so make sure you don’t miss that info.
I know there were some good solid knowledge nuggets found there within so make sure you’re up to date and not falling behind the rest. Keep up with the class, man!
On the personal end of things I cannot tell you what a trying and what an emotional week it’s been. These episodes are recorded a week or two ahead of time so you’ll note the time difference of when this happened and when it’s making its way live.
On Saturday November 9th, my dad had a stroke. He got out of bed that morning and said he’s got a tall bed so he always has to sort of find his footing before he gets out and walks. He said on this day, he got out of bed and got out a bit awkward and fell.
He hit his head on the end table and cut his head open. From there, he went to the garage to get rags to clean up the bloody mess. Well, from the garage he goes to talk to his wife in the kitchen and there he falls again….hitting his head once again.
At this point, his wife calls the ambulance and off to the hospital they go. My wife and I were in Dallas TX, about a 6 hour drive away. So, I get the call. Take care of my business in Dallas and head back to Amarillo as quickly as we can.
Now, never having been around a stroke victim in the first week or so, I have little experience in this arena. I had no idea what to expect. When we got to the hospital, he was awake and talking to me. Telling me all kinds of stories, basically doing decent but there was weakness on the left side arm and leg.
Now, here’s where it got A LOT more interesting. On day two in the hospital, after taking a walk on the walker, he was sitting and eating and just relaxing when he had stroke #2. This was the more severe stroke. They put him on heparin, a blood thinner, and took him to the critical care unit to keep a closer eye on everything.
Now complete loss of sensation and motor in the left leg and arm and hand. He was very out of it and confused in the CCU.
So that was touch and go for a bit as you can imagine. Very emotional. Very stressful for everyone. Certainly for my dad.
Now, let’s fast forward to today, Monday November 18th, we are now 9 days out from the first stroke and 7 days out from the second stroke. He’s out of the hospital and in a rehab facility where they are trying to teach him to regain his life if possible. At this point, nobody knows where this train is going to take us and when it will get there but, we are hopeful and we are praying. If this reaches you and you hear it, I would appreciate your prayers, your good vibes, or whatever you are willing to send this way.
He could use it and, honestly, his family could too. It’s been a challenge to try to see patients and then spend time at the hospital. It’s hard to be present for your patients when your mind is fixated on your personal problems. I’m sure it goes that way for doctors going through divorces and life changing events like that as well. Mine just happens to be my Dad’s stroke.
So, I’ve usually got at least something to share with you on the personal side of things. This one was a whole new thing for me. I’ll probably giving updates as we go along.
Before we dive into the reason we’re here, it’s good to support the people that support you don’t you think? Well, ChiroUp certainly supports evidence-based practices.
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Now, the reason for this week’s topic: I saw a question on one of the Facebook groups the other day about what are the qualities we look for in other chiropractors before we’ll recommend them to a family member or to a friend.
Quite honestly, I get phone calls, text messages, Facebook messages, and emails from friends and associates that live out of town asking me if I know a good chiropractor where they live all of the time. Literally almost every week. And if I don’t know one, then what is the best way to choose a chiropractor? I’d say my first knee-jerk response is to go to forwardthinkingchiro.com and check the Member Map they have.
Now that still doesn’t guarantee it’s the best referral in the world but it’s a damn good start in whittling out the crazies right off the bat. But, that map unfortunately doesn’t represent every area of every city and it certainly doesn’t get you a good referral in BFE, Wyoming.
So, that’s what we’re talking about here. How do you find someone then if that FTCA map fails us?
I think that any time one decides that they’re going to go to a new doctor….even for you and for me…..If we change doctors, there is a certain amount of apprehension. In choosing a chiropractor, this apprehension can be escalated to a certain extent because all chiropractors are vastly different. In short, there is literally zero standardization. It’s like the wild wild West out there. If you have an ear infection and you go to the ER, you know it’s going to be a pretty standard treatment, right?
Not with chiropractic. You can go in for a little tweak in your back and walk out $3500 lighter with a year long plan. Or you can walk in with a little tweak in your back and get some completely normal, repsonible recommendation.
There are some chiropractors that focus on weight loss. There are some chiropractors that only use an instrument to adjust rather than manual adjusting.
There are some chiropractors that are more driven by philosophy than other chiropractors. There are some chiropractors that use therapy and extra equipment, while other chiropractors only adjust.
So let’s dive into 9 characteristics I feel are important in a good chiropractor.
- 1. Honesty
Other than the first topic and the last topic, I have not put these qualities in any specific order. But I put honesty at the top of the pile because I feel that strongly about it.
I feel that honesty is of utmost importance in any profession. Especially in the healthcare field. People are literally putting their lives and their livlihoods in our hands. You would like to think our family is putting their lives in the hands of an honest person, don’t you think?
We’ve heard it said time and time again that if a person doesn’t have his word, then he doesn’t have anything. It so so true.
How do you know if a chiropractor is honest when you first visit their office? That’s a hard one to answer. It may simply be a “gut” sort of thing. But usually, if we trust our “gut”, then we don’t get steered off of the right track.
You may not be able to develop a “gut” feeling until the second or third visit but you will most likely get a good idea by then. I would say that, in general, if it takes 3 visits to get your recommendations and really start treating, they may be using sales tactics on you.
If they talk about having to see them once a week for a year or for a lifetime, they may not necessarily be dishonest but they are most certainly unaware of current guidelines and evidence-based protocols.
If they talk about fixing everything in your body based on a subluxation model, I’d say you should save your money and leave. That’s just me. Again, that doesn’t mean dishonesty but it does mean they may not be evidence-based.
- 2.Evidence-based/Evidence Informed
OK, this one is admittedly a sticky one here. As most chiropractors are well-aware, there is this huge chasm in our profession between those that believe in only adjusting the spine and nothing else and those that are evidence-based or evidence-informed.
Between those that follow a philosophy and those that follow research. Between those that do not believe in the profession progressing and growing and those that believe our profession can and should grow and expand.
There are some research papers that the philosophy group will point to saying these papers prove their theories and minimal treatment but, in truth, from what I’ve seen, they are low quality and no profession worth anything would rest their entire reputation on them.
However, there are TONS of papers, many of which we have covered here on the Chiropractic Forward Podcast, that proves and validates evidence-based chiropractic every day in almost every way.
In general, it is my recommendation that you BE the chiropractor or refer your family TO the chiropractor that follows research, follows the expanding knowledge within, and pushes to move the profession more and more into the current century.
To me, “Network” means, “how plugged in is the doctor as far as his associations, his colleagues, and the profession as a whole?”
On the surface, that may sound like a silly suggestion and to be somewhat inconsequential to you. But I have found that there is an extreme amount of value in being active with fellow chiropractors and state and national associations.
We are able to bounce ideas and questions off of each other whereas someone with no colleague interaction or support system merely has their own knowledge and is sort of on an island of their own making.
Trust me, this is coming from a dude that was on that self-made island years and years ago. I had my basic knowledge from going to chiropractic school but I wasn’t particularly skilled in anything extra. Just basic white paint in a world of oranges, purple, fuschia, lilac, or whatever color you can think of. Sitting here today, I wouldn’t send anyone to me then.
Being active in the Texas Chiropractic Association has allowed me the opportunity to stay plugged in with rules and regulations, new treatments, changes in insurance plans, and options that I would have likely never known about were I not being active in my profession.
- 4. Knowledge & Experience of Doctor and Staff
I think this qualification really goes without saying. And again, knowledge and experience is of extreme importance in ANY profession. Even an experienced comedian is usually going put on a better show than a rookie.
For instance, I attend a chiropractic conference one weekend out of every month. Chiropractors are required 16 hours of continuing education every year. Some chiropractors will only go to a continuing education seminar one weekend out of every year. I should know, I used to be one of those chiropractors.
But with age comes wisdom and the desire for more wisdom. I would do my best to figure out the chiropractor’s knowledge and their level of experience. This could certainly end up being a “gut” thing as we previously discussed but it’s usually something they’re proud of and something they market.
Trust me, when I finally get that Fellowship of the International Academy of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine, you better believe it’s going to be on the website and will probably look like some sign right out of Las Vegas.
If there’s no sign on the website of extra certification and acheivement, your money is probably best spent elsewhere. I’m ten times the doctor I was when I began the Diplomate program. Or more….exponentially better.
- 5. Good listener
You’re not going to be able to get this off of a doctor’s website so don’t even try but we can strive to be better ourselves in this department. Myself included. I’ve been at a point where I didn’t feel I could get everyone worked through in one day and I can guarantee you I cut some patients off in the middle of their explanation.
I think that it is very important that a doctor has a good bedside manner. Meaning, that they need to be able to listen, focus on the patient, and fully understand what the patient is saying and what their concerns are. There are those days where we are just doing everything we can to stay above water but in general, don’t be uninterested and think you have the problem solved before they’ve said anything.
Open your ears.
- 6. Office Presentation.
This may seem like a silly one and I’m sorry if it’s just not important to you, but if I am going to a doctor’s office, I expect the office to be mostly clean and fairly sharp looking.
GASP….what if they went over the top and it looks amazing?
I think that if a healthcare provider takes pride in their office and in their staff, then they’re going to take pride in their results and their expertise. Maybe I’m wrong. You can find those that don’t give a squat about anything in their office. No good pictures, old this, smelly that..yet they’re able to get the best results.
Let’s face it though, is that the exception or the rule? I argue it’s the exception.
An an ideal office, they try to have a welcoming feeling, the staff is dressed neatly, there is as little dirt or dust is on the floor and furniture as is possible, there is no trash on the floor next to the trash can, everything is as nice, as sharp, and as clean as possible.
If the doctor and the staff do not portray an acceptable image, then that may not be the place for you.
- 7. A sense of purpose.
Have you ever gone to a doctor’s office and felt that they were simply going through the motions and collecting money? I have absolutely felt that way a time or two. I think that the better doctor is genuinely concerned about his patients’ well-being, and how he can help them in the best way possible.
Someone that you can just feel is a little extra. Someone that is knowledgeable and can relate things to you in relate-able terms. Not chiropractic jargon. Someone that you can instantly tell is not there to get into your pocket or to max your insurance. You know what I’m talking about. Someone that is there to get you results as quickly as possible. That’s purpose.
Even on top of that though, it would be nice to find a chiropractor that you felt had the community’s best interests in mind. When you see them donating and giving back to their community, why wouldn’t you want to do business with that person instead of a taker. Takers kind of suck. Takers just make profit but are narcissistic. They don’t get involved with their state or national associations at all. They don’t give anything back to their profession, their school, or their community.
They take that money and spend it only on themselves because that’s all they care about. I don’t want to do business with that person. I want to do business with a giver. Any day all day. Gimme a giver. Thank you, i’ll have another please.
I want a chiropractor that got into the profession of chiropractic in order to heal people. And to heal as many people as he could possibly reach.
Someone that thinks and works on a higher level rather than someone that just shows up to work and does their job. A doctor that is excited and jazzed to be doing what they’re doing in the place where they are doing it.
THAT’S the guy I want to go to!
- 8. Know when to refer.
Tell me you know when to refer. Tell me you don’t think you can fix everything. Please tell me!!
When we talk about referrals, we can get way off track in the chiropractic profession. Some chiropractors feel they can solve any problem walking through their doors. Ear infection? Pop ya bones? Asthma? Pop ya bones. Cancer? Pop ya bones. Diverticulitis? Pop ya bones?
You know the ones. Yeah you know them. They’re the reason people in the medical field look at all of us like we’re crazy. And if that’s the measuring stick for crazy, then they’re right. Fortunately, most of aren’t like that. But the loud minority is still winning the day in our profession I’m afraid.
As I said before, I am interested in the chiropractor that is plugged in to his profession and to his colleagues. I’m interested in the chiropractor that is plugged in to the healthcare field as a whole. And I’m damn sure interested in the chiropractor who is plugged into research and current, accepted guidelines.
If a doctor gives me a sense that they feel that they are the only one that can handle any condition, or that there is never any need to look outside of their office for additional help, then I am likely going to find another chiropractor. I think it is extremely important to go to a chiropractor that is not afraid to admit when additional treatment should be reasonably looked at.
I for one, look forward to each and every time that I have the opportunity to work in conjunction with a medical provider. I feel that it is a very complete treatment plan when you are able to address all symptoms thoroughly.
Patients have to take into consideration whether they want a chiropractor that is deeply versed in chiropractic philosophy or want a chiropractor that is open to working with the medical community.
- 9. Love.
I like to throw curveballs here and there. I like to add things you don’t see in most lists. This is one of those things and I saved this one for last because I hope that, after you’re done reading this, this is the one that will resonate the longest with you.
I strongly feel that when you visit a health care provider, things like caring, genuineness, focus, listening, and all of those other things that we’ve talked about above…..they can all be wrapped up into one thing.
And I think that that one thing is love. If the doctor and the staff love what they do, they love their patients, and they love being where they are, when they are there, then people can feel that.
If you walk into an office and it’s cold, there’s no personality, and it feels stiff and stale, then that’s just no fun at all. Where’s the love? How do you show it to your patients?
I want an office that I love to go to and if the doctor and the staff have love as the primary driver of their office and their purpose and it’s something palpable that you can feel….., then I think that all of the other eight qualifications pretty much take care of themselves.
That’s it. I’m sure if I didn’t have so much on my plate I could come up with about 20 more things that are important. Maybe a 100 but I have to get to the hospital to see my dad.
I enjoyed sitting and throwing some random thoughts on the page. I hope you liked it and make sure you come back next week.
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I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment instead of chemical treatments like pills and shots.
When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show that many patients get good or excellent results through chiropractic for headaches, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, to name just a few.
Chiropractic care is safe and cost-effective. It can decrease instances of surgery & disability. Chiropractors normally do this through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal time requirements or hassle to the patient.
And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health of the patient!
Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm.
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We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward.
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About the Author & Host
Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger