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Dynamic Chiropractic – August 2, 1991, Vol. 09, Issue 16

Practice Paradigm #1 -- Chiropractic Puberty

By J.C. Smith, MA, DC
There are different models of practice -- straight, mixer, holistic, technique, cult, spinal rehabilitation, Hubbard, education, and charismatic to name but a few. Before you will excel, you need to focus upon which model you will do. Without this focus, you will appear nebulous to your patients and staff. With this focus, you will have direction and vision.

This is not to imply that one paradigm is better or worse than another. Different chiropractors excel with models that would make me sick, yet others fail when I thought they shouldn't. Whichever you choose to implement, it must come from your heart. The more you can believe in it, the more it will work for you. And once you "own" it, only then can you "sell" it.

Many chiropractors will go through "chiropractic puberty." While in our respective colleges, we are taught a certain chiropractic catechism. In my case, it was the straight/cult/charismatic model of practice, which worked for a few years, until the realization hit that it wasn't my style. The torment was realizing that the "pop and pray" methods weren't working, and therefore certainly didn't accomplish the patients' goals. In my experience, chiropractic puberty was like a religious reformation, transforming the model to better suit certain goals. At first, there was guilt as a result of straying from my collegiate catechism, until my understanding that the transformation was a natural process of growth and on-going improvement. You should experiment with your model, feel free to change your paradigm, especially if it is not meeting your expectations.

Your vision of practice must become clear to you, your staff, and your patients before you will excel. One colleague changes his model every year according to whatever technique or gimmick is in vogue at the moment. One moment his is a straight HIO, the next he is Activator, then AK, then BEST, then Cox, then God only knows what next. Needless to say, that is equivalent to a medical doctor who changes his specialty from obstetrics, to orthopedics, to urology, to ophthalmology, to whatever. Do you think that anyone can build a practice when he keeps changing his model of practice? No. You need to find your niche, develop it, and stick with it.

New practitioners often don't know their options, i.e., the different paradigms that are available. There is more to our profession than simply straight vs. mixer. You must explore these options, find the one that best suits your concept of health care, and master it. It's like an athlete who must find one sport rather than playing them all and excelling at none. Each of you will go through your own chiropractic puberty. Don't fight it because it is inevitable, but don't let it drag on for years either. The sooner you find your vision -- your practice paradigm -- the sooner you will excel.

J.C. Smith, D.C.
Warner Robbins, Georgia

Dr. J.C. Smith, 1978 graduate of Life Chiropractic College, is the author of The Medical War Against Chiropractors: The Untold Story From Persecution to Vindication. Contact Dr. Smith via his website,

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