Dynamic Chiropractic – November 21, 2006, Vol. 24, Issue 24

Listening In

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

It was a Saturday evening and I was on my way back from a chiropractic conference in Orlando. I boarded the plane along with a full cabin of passengers. As usual, I had an aisle seat.

The two seats next to me weren't occupied when I sat down.

I stood to let a young lady take the middle seat. I stood again to let a young man take the window seat. As he entered the row, he introduced himself as Ian. He also introduced himself to the gentleman across the aisle, whose name was Richard.

Richard and Ian recognized each other as DCs who had attended the same conference I had attended. As they didn't recognize me as anyone other than "Don," I was able to listen in on the conversation they were having without them feeling a reporter was present. This "casual listening" is something I do whenever I can.

It was clear I was not the only one listening. Because Ian and Richard were two seats away from each other, passengers for several rows in both directions couldn't help but hear what the two were saying.

The conversation began with comments about the conference. Both Ian and Richard were very pleased with the speakers and the information they presented. They reviewed several speakers, commenting about the highlights of their presentations.

The conversation eventually moved to their chiropractic practices. Ian practices in Southern California. Richard practices in a city further north. Ian talked about the great success he is having with a patient with cerebral palsy, a young 16-year-old girl. The care he provides has allowed her to become much more peaceful and encourages better function. She's from the area where Richard practices. Her parents drive for several hours for each appointment.

Ian asked for Richard's business card as he continued to discuss his young patient. "I should send her to you," Ian said. The comments he made revealed his compassion for her situation. Ian is clearly a doctor who cares about his patients.

Richard was equally enthusiastic about his practice. He talked about how the practice was growing and some of the new technology he was investing in to provide better patient care.

Neither Ian nor Richard appeared to be conscious that as many as a dozen other passengers were listening to their conversation (not to mention yours truly). They were two doctors of chiropractic excited about their practices and focused on providing the best care for their patients. Not once in the entire conversation was I even the slightest bit embarrassed by the way they represented our profession.

As a board member of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress, I'm involved in trying to develop and execute the best marketing our profession can afford. The advertising and press releases are designed to tell people about the benefits of chiropractic care and encourage them to seek a chiropractor. The foundation currently is running full-page, color advertisements in several national magazines on a regular basis. Our goal is to reach as many people as possible with a positive message about chiropractic. Our hope is to have every DC contribute monthly to this effort.

I don't know if Ian and Richard are financially contributing to this effort. I never asked.

All I know is what I, and several other passengers, heard them talk about that night on that crowded airplane. Their conversation revealed them as true chiropractors - highly professional, skilled health care practitioners who really care about their patients. The fact that Ian probably will refer his cerebral palsy patient to Richard spoke a great deal about his maturity and willingness to put his patients first.

The passengers listening to this conversation heard real chiropractors talking about real patients. They were given an understanding that chiropractic is about health, not just back pain. These people exited the plane with a very positive impression about chiropractic.

What do you say when you talk about your practice? What impression do you give about chiropractic to those who might be listening to your conversation?

Ian and Richard never knew I and others were listening. They were excited about chiropractic and what they were accomplishing for their patients.

You might want to think about this the next time you talk in public about being a DC. Whether you know it or not, people will be listening to your conversation and forming opinions about chiropractic based upon what you say. There's no escaping the fact that you always are an ambassador for chiropractic.

You never know who might be listening ... it could even be me.


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