By Echo Garrett
Growing the profession by embracing a new philosophy
Robert A. Hayden, D.C., Ph.D., spent 20 years in critical care nursing, which he calls a team sport. “All RNs understand that they work together as a team. In Chiropractic, we are in separate clinics and more than 70 percent are single-doctor practices,” he says. “That can foster a competitive spirit among clinics.”
When Hayden became one of the legions of chiropractors to join the profession as a second career—he was 37 when he started chiropractic school—he was determined to apply his team spirit to his new profession and live out Life University’s Lasting Purpose: “To Give, To Do, To Love, To Serve - Out of a Sense of Abundance.” Many chiropractors are following Hayden’s example by choosing to eschew a mindset that favors scarcity in favor of one that promotes abundance, to help both themselves and the profession.
Serving the Profession
One of the ways in which Hayden embraces a mindset of abundance is by participating in professional associations. Hayden, a sole practitioner at Iris City Chiropractic Center in Griffin, Ga., serves as a Georgia delegate to the American Chiropractic Association and as Vice-Chair of the Georgia Chiropractic Association (GCA). “I’m in a town of about 30,000, and there are three of us who are members of the association who are very close personally and professionally,” he notes. “We refer to each other, cooperate and share ideas. We’ve even done some joint marketing. There’s no competition among us. We all understand that if Chiropractic is in a positive light, we all benefit, so we all work together.”
Hayden acknowledges that as a GCA member he may be in the minority, citing recent data that only somewhere between 25 and 30 percent of chiropractors bother to join any state or national chiropractic association. At the same time, over the past 10 years, the trend in enrollment for chiropractic schools has been flat or down by as much as 40 percent. “Both trends are troubling, and those are two trends you don’t like to see together. Many of us are approaching retirement age. Mentoring opportunities are being lost. What that means is that people get out of school and aren’t connected to a professional organization,” he says. “There is a ‘me’ mentality going on that keeps rookies from picking up the phone and asking questions of a mentor who has done it. That resource was invaluable to me.” Hayden notes that joining a state association can connect chiropractors to people who can help them. “It’s a shame more people don’t see that as something really important,” he says.
Nonetheless, he acknowledges the pressures graduates today face, like six-figure school loans, likely contribute to the lone wolf mentality. To counter that mentality, Hayden takes an active approach to promoting the profession and the American Chiropractic Association. He welcomes visiting chiropractors, as well as students trying to decide on careers, into his clinic; shares ideas for new revenue streams with his colleagues; appears at career days at local high schools; and teaches at Gordon College as an adjunct professor. “When I bring students in to shadow me at the clinic, they are seeing opportunities they didn’t know existed,” says Hayden, noting that several members of the association also teach at community colleges.
Mentors like Hayden can inspire a new generation of chiropractors. A recent graduate with a new practice in Minneapolis, Martha DeSante, D.C., agrees that living and serving from a profound sense of abundance is essential to the continued growth and development of the chiropractic profession. “I have been on both the giving and receiving end of actions driven by abundance consciousness, and I am absolutely in love with my practice and the wonderful group of colleagues, mentors and friends I spend my time with,” says DeSante. “Abundance consciousness at its core suggests that there are more than enough resources if you remain grounded and present enough to recognize them.”
However, she also admits the challenge that lies in remaining open to the learning process throughout one’s professional life. Despite the challenges she faces as a startup, she spends time talking with current chiropractic students and allows them to shadow her in her clinic. She is also active in her state chiropractic association and volunteers her time to support events and causes that she cares about. “I think of my colleagues as friends to assist in their time of need and know that they will be a support group for you when it’s your turn to need assistance,” she says.
Understanding the small amount of market penetration chiropractic care has in the general population helps DeSante quell any temptation to feel competitive. “As a more recent graduate who is in the midst of building her patient base, I recognize the temptation to hoard every contact and patient who comes my way,” says DeSante, whose clinic operates on the same block as three others. “What has worked well for me in the area of developing healthy referral relationships and a support network of colleagues is to really spend time figuring out what I do best and who I most enjoy serving in practice, as well as getting to know the strengths and specific desired patient groups of practitioners around me.”
DeSante meets with other practitioners in her neighborhood to discover additional resources for her patients—like acupuncture, massage, craniosacral therapy, yoga and Pilates. “This act can clarify your own vision for your practice while letting other practitioners know what you excel at and whom you would most like to serve,” she says.
This clarity has resulted in her directing her energy and focus to teaching the public about how chiropractic care can improve life, health and vitality and explaining her passion for what she does. “It is much more effective to invest time and energy to educate people who do not currently receive care than to attempt to poach patients from other chiropractors,” she says. About half of DeSante’s new patient visits are with patients who have never seen a chiropractor before.
The Abundance Mindset
Dave Jensen, D.C., founder of The WIN Health Institute and author of “The Thrival Theory: The Secret to Win During Global Chaos,” operates a thriving practice in Aspen Valley, Colo., that sees 300 to 350 people a week. His patients include everyone from movie stars to professional athletes and Olympians to high school students. In his 20 years of practice since graduating from Parker University in Dallas, Jensen has tried every form of promotion for his practice from television, radio, print and more.
“I’ve always operated from a place of abundance, and my wife, who is a Pilates instructor, shares that philosophy,” says Jensen, who frequently speaks about Chiropractic at seminars to help raise awareness about its benefits. “A mindset of abundance has to be a way of life.”
Five years ago, Jensen started contributing part of his monthly income to the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, a nationwide advertising campaign featuring celebrities and athletes highlighting the benefits of chiropractic in respected, mainstream media outlets like The Wall Street Journal. “I liken it to tithing,” he says. “It’s my way of giving back and expressing my gratitude that my practice has continued on a growth pattern despite the downturn of 2008 and 2009.”
Adopting an abundance mindset can also help you grow your practice, and one way to do that is through referrals that come from establishing a good professional reputation and believing in yourself. “If you have that attitude and put it out into the world, you will find that it brings it back to you,” says Rob Schroeder, D.C., of Indianapolis. For example, as a collegiate athlete, Schroeder decided he wanted to make athletes a prime focus of his practice. “I enjoy and follow athletics, and the abundance mindset helped lead me to where I am,” says Schroeder, who is also a member of the International Chiropractic Association. He now works with NFL players, including the majority of the Indianapolis Colts, as well as PGA, NBA, MLB and motorsports athletes. He operates a mobile facility at Indy car races where he sees almost 200 patients in a three-day weekend: drivers, pit crew members, camera crews, etc. His facility houses PitFit training for motorsports athletes, a rehab trainer, advanced physical therapy, foot and ankle specialist, massage therapy, colon hydrotherapy, yoga, cycling, triathlon training and a nutritionist.
“Ironically, the medical model has done a better job of operating from [a collaborative] mindset than chiropractors when we are the ones who understand that the body operates as a whole,” he says. “We should be the ones with the strongest understanding of abundance rather [than] operating from a scarcity mindset. Now I think it’s shifting because the medical community has divided everything up into so many specialties that it has gotten more competitive.”
Schroeder believes the entire profession must step in and promote its strengths. “We are the one profession [in health care] that must get it all right—a good practitioner must have physical talent, educational knowledge and emotional intelligence. That takes having that abundance mindset,” he says. In addition to the abundance mindset, Hayden believes that staying connected with one another is the most important thing chiropractors can do to strengthen the community. “In doing that, you will find opportunities to give back to the profession in important and meaningful ways,” he says.