By Jennifer LeClaire
Nurturing the next generation of chiropractors
Although well-respected chiropractic coaches abound in the industry, true mentors are a little harder to come by. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. Indeed, many established chiropractors are taking time out of their busy schedules to mentor young and future DCs because they understand that it’s more important to give than to receive—and they understand that the future of the profession they love is in the hands of Generation Y, or those born roughly between the late 1970s and the early 2000s.
Ninety-eight percent of this generation sees having a mentor as integral to their career development, according to a survey from PricewaterhouseCoopers. They also rank training and development three times higher than cash bonuses as their first choice in benefits. That means many young chiropractic associates would rather have more of your time than more of your money.
Of course, it’s not just the young chiropractors who win when veteran DCs give back. Sharing knowledge with a protégé is ultimately a relationship-building exercise that helps hone leadership skills and betters the profession. “When I was in school, my mom came to speak with the female students about what it’s like to be a female chiropractor. She modeled the way for me,” says Denise Rassel, D.C., co-owner of Rassel-Daigneault Family Chiropractic in Lansing, Mich. “Any time I get to speak to students or mentor students or new graduates—to teach them how I adjust or do a screening or answer business questions—I take the time because I want the next generation to succeed.”
Beyond valuable fee-based coaching and mentoring programs, the chiropractic industry is seeing more DCs step up to serve the next generation. Joseph Lupo, D.C., a member of the Board of Trustees at Life University who also runs the Lupo Chiropractic Center in Roseville, Mich., is known for going out of his way to help students and young chiropractors. So is Sharon Gorman, D.C., another Life University board member and owner of practices in Georgia and Pennsylvania.
Gorman puts on a monthly seminar for chiropractors that is open to prospective chiropractic students. Gorman also serves on the board of her state association, the Chiropractic Fellowship of Pennsylvania, and speaks at many chiropractic colleges and state association seminars. “The surer you are about Chiropractic and the tighter your knot is, the bigger your practice will get. There is one other trick to it, too. The trick is to share this truth without having people know that you think so differently than they,” Gorman says. “Make a soft, easy conversion without them even noticing the changes that they are making, because people resist change. We have to become walking examples of what we hope them to be changing into. Chiropractic needs to ooze out of our pores.”
Leading by example is the best way to accomplish that goal. Rassel knows what it’s like to get a hand-up. That’s because her parents are also chiropractors—in fact, there are more than 25 chiropractors in her family. She’s been under chiropractic care since she was 5 years old and, after pursuing a different career in her early 20s, she decided to follow in her family’s chiropractic footsteps. Rassel packed up her family, drove from Michigan to Marietta, Ga., and enrolled at Life University at age 28.
“My parents always spent time going out to speak to chiropractic students,” says Rassel, who practices with her husband, Jean-Guy Daigneault, D.C. Rassel’s mother, Linda Rassel, D.C., attended Dynamic Essentials, a program founded by Sid Williams, D.C. The lessons she learned rubbed off on her even at an early age and she continues to share them with young chiropractors.
Growing up in a chiropractic office, Rassel has a unique background. She was running the X-ray machine—and helping run the office—by the time she was a teenager. Because many recent DC grads have no idea how to set up an office or even complete the necessary paperwork, Rassel takes as many young chiropractors as she can under her wing. She and her husband even invited students attending a chiropractic seminar in Michigan to stay in their home in an attempt to lower the cost for the students.
Daigneault teaches at Trois-Riviéres, a chiropractic college in Quebec, a couple of times a year, sharing what he knows about basic biomechanics for its Chiropractic Bio-Physics technique class. Rassel says her husband gives back because he wants students to be able to apply technique in practice. “We have students come visit our practice from various chiropractic colleges. We show them how our practice runs and give them an idea of what it’s like to run the practice day-to-day,” Rassel says. “We enjoy showing them the ropes, letting them see behind the scenes how [we run our] chiropractic offices.”
Kreg Huffer, D.C., also comes from chiropractic blood. His father was a chiropractor and he was impressed by his dad’s ability to help people heal after traditional medical solutions failed. He says he witnessed “remarkable miracles” and developed a strong desire to help people while watching his dad work. Huffer joined his father in practice in 1983 and practiced with him for 13 years before his father passed away.
Today, Huffer has his own chiropractic clinic with two associate DCs at Huffer Chiropractic in Jackson Center, Ohio. After serving in the chiropractic profession for more than 24 years, he has plenty to offer the next generation of DCs. Huffer specializes in Sacro-Occipital Technique (SOT), Bio-Energy Synchronization Technique (BEST) and sports-related injuries. A Palmer College of Chiropractic graduate, Huffer nurtures the relationship between Life University and the Ohio State Chiropractic Association. As he sees it, Ohio’s chiropractic industry needs more quality DCs. Life University recently began offering scholarships to select Ohio students recommended by the association. In return, students intern with Huffer and other Ohio chiropractors after they graduate. The association also offers an additional scholarship to help the students get their own practices started. “I speak to students anywhere they are and answer any questions they may have, from opening a practice to how to help patients,” Huffer says. “I speak to students at least once a quarter at Life University. It’s inspirational and motivational. I hope to help them create a vision for developing a practice they are interested in. I want them to open their minds and realize they get to choose their dream. They can create any life they desire.”
Selfless DCs can change the world for many chiropractic students. When not helping patients in her family clinic in Bethlehem, Pa., Nalyn Marcus, D.C., spends a lot of time thinking of ways to support other moms in Chiropractic. Because she is dedicated to promoting women in the profession, Marcus created the Sylva Ashworth Scholarship while attending Sherman College to make it easier for single moms to complete their chiropractic education. “When I was at Sherman I was aware that there was a lovely underclassman who was a single mom,” Marcus recalls. “I remembered thinking how I knew that going to graduate school would be a strain on marriages, but how would it be for a single mom? Having to study for the Boards and still parent a child … those thoughts were the ones that evolved for me.” It all started with doodles in her notebook, and now Marcus’ designs featuring the phrase, “Mother Nature’s Healing Hands ... Women in Chiropractic” are printed on pins, shirts, greeting cards and more. “Those products, sold in college bookstores and through the Women in Chiropractic jam sessions at Sherman’s Lyceum, New Beginnings, the World Congress of Women Chiropractors (WCWC) and the League of Chiropractic Women have helped tremendously in bolstering the sales and funding the Sylva Ashworth Scholarship,” Marcus says. The scholarship was named after Sylva Ashworth, a chiropractor in the 1920s who is considered a major pioneer and inspiration in the world of Chiropractic and whose legacy continues into a fifth generation of Cleveland family chiropractors. Marcus’ involvement with the International Federation of Chiropractors and Organizations (IFCO) led to the founding of the scholarship while she worked on designs to build its funding. Each year, the IFCO scholarship committee selects a single mother attending chiropractic college to receive the scholarship.
Chiropractors who are experienced in the field have much to offer the next generation. From helping young DCs set up their practices to counseling them on technique, the profession can only grow and improve when different generations come together to share information. Establishing solid mentoring-based relationships can benefit both parties in ways that will last for years to come.