By Freddie Ulan, DC, CCN
When you analyze your practice, the first thing you need to look at is: are you helping volumes of people? And “volumes” is very definitely a relative term. It’s not how many patients you are seeing, it’s how many people you are helping.
I know plenty of practices that are seeing huge quantities of patients. I have a chiropractic friend who was seeing a hundred to two hundred patients a day for years. All of a sudden, I find him on Venice Beach in California in the middle of the week.
I said, “Hey, you on vacation?”
“Yeah, you could say that.”
“How’s the practice going?”
“It’s gone. It’s going really well. Gone, I’m out of it.”
And I said, “How could you be out of it?”
“I burned out.”
What is burnout all about? Burnout is about too much work without getting enough results. That’s what burnout is. When you see people who are burning out, it’s not that they are not helping people. These are guys who were doing a lot of good for a lot of people. But the guys I’ve actually seen experience the most burnout are the ones who grasped the idea of what we were trying to do originally with chiropractic and one day realized that they weren’t accomplishing that. They were giving a lot of people a lot of adjustments, but they weren’t getting sick people well. And one day they said to themselves, “Oh god, why am I even getting up in the morning?”
That’s what burnout is all about. So, the question is: are you helping volumes of people? To clarify what I mean by helping, here’s what I look at. I look at the fact that there are far more people out there who need what we have to offer than we could possibly handle. Therefore, helping, by definition, means putting them back in control of their own health and life. My ideal scene is somebody comes and sees me two or three times a year for a checkup so I can update their program as they’re maturing; reduce the stress of that accumulation of life on them.
Let’s take this one step further: is your practice stress-free and totally enjoyable? Most of the people I talk to who want to have bigger practices do not have stress-free practices. Some of them are actually worried about what would happen if they’re practice did get bigger. I’ll use a good friend of mine as an example. It may sound like a joke to you, but it was actually true that her practice was so small and stressful that the idea of magnifying it and getting it bigger was frightening to her.
The bottom line is: if you are actually seeing the right patients for you and orienting them properly to what you do and what their job is, once you’ve accepted them, and once you’ve gotten that patient to the point where they actually accept your recommendations and are on board and committed to completing a program, all your stress is gone. It’s absolutely amazing.
The stress that you are experiencing in your practice, to the degree that you have stress, is all due to one or more of those factors missing. You either accepted a patient who was not right for your practice and you’re trying to make them right. Have you had that one? Man, do those people tire you out. It’s just exhausting! My chronic fatigue would come back overnight just thinking about it.
Does the patient understand what the program is so that when you’ve put them on a program, they actually know what it is? If they don’t understand it, how can they possibly agree and how can they possibly commit? We actually have to create the scenario so that we have tons of people we are capable of seeing and having tons of people on our lines who are fully with us.
The most important person in your practice is you, by the way. You are the most important person in your practice. You need to survive in order to help all these other people. The thing is, who are all these other people? They’re the ones who are right for you. And I don’t mean to be getting metaphysical here at all, it’s just an observable truth.
There are people who are right for you and people that aren’t. And the patients that are right for you will jump through each of the hoops that you’ll see we’ve set up for them to jump through and make it through those hoops. And when they arrive and make it through that last hoop they’ve arrived and they’re on board with you. They’re just like family. They’re there to do what you know they need to do, they know that you’re the one who knows what they need to do and they’re going to do it.
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