Printer Friendly Email a Friend PDF RSS Feed

Dynamic Chiropractic – March 25, 2008, Vol. 26, Issue 07

What I Learned From My Dad, the Chiropractor

By Richard Lohr, DC

My first memory of my father's dedication to chiropractic is of when I was 5 years old. It was after church on a Sunday morning. I was sitting in the back of the family station wagon, looking out the window at my father's office.

Four other cars were there.

As soon as we pulled up, people started getting out of their cars. One limped to the door. Another person was hunched way forward and another one was leaning over to one side. Later, I couldn't help but notice that they all walked out of the office straighter than when they walked in. I was impressed!

My second memory is of when I asked my mother why dad got home late on Tuesday and Thursday nights. I made it clear to her that I wasn't complaining. (Mom let us stay up later on those nights!) She said, "Your father goes to his satellite office in the country on those nights. Then he goes to your grandmother's house to adjust your uncle."

My uncle was my dad's youngest brother and was born with muscular dystrophy. After working all day in his main office, dad drove 30 miles to his country office and saw patients there until 9 p.m. Then he drove to his mother's farm, got his brother out of his wheelchair and adjusted him, and usually returned home around 10 p.m. Waiting at the door oftentimes were my mother, six brothers and sisters, maybe a few cousins from down the street. We all wanted to be adjusted before we went to bed! Dad never complained. He kept that portable adjusting table in the foyer of our home and would not tolerate it being taken down except on rare occasions.

My third memory is of when I was about 7 years old; it was the "lifestyle!" This lifestyle came in two distinct ways. The first was dad had a tall dresser in his bedroom. Every night he would come home and empty his pocket change on the top of the dresser. My brothers and I got a stool, climbed up there and looked down with awe on King Midas' treasure. We counted at least 100 quarters up there! Mom allowed us to take some quarters from dad's dresser and ride our bikes to the hospital gift shop to buy candy. I remember thinking, "Anyone who leaves this much money just lying around must be doing something right at the office!" Thus, my first exposure to cash!

The second part of this grand lifestyle was the discovery of credit! Our milkman came every Monday and Thursday. He left 5 gallons on Monday and 5 gallons on Thursday. Sometimes mom would get cottage cheese and, for a special treat, a box of ice cream bars! Most of the time we saw mom pay the milkman with cash, although one day, she was too busy to pay the milkman and sent me out to the street to tell him "put it on the bill."

I didn't know what it meant at the time, but it didn't take my brothers and me long to figure it out. The next week, we headed off the milkman in the front yard. "Don't worry, we'll carry the milk around to the back door for you; mom's too busy to come to the door. By the way, she said to throw in four boxes of Captain Crunch ice cream bars and put it all on the bill!" I strutted around for a couple of weeks thinking I had it all figured out. I had "ready cash" on pop's dresser and an unlimited credit for ice cream! It wasn't long before our abuse of this credit got us into trouble.

Sadly, Uncle Barry finally passed away from complications of muscular dystrophy at the age of 18, though his doctors were amazed at the quality and longevity of his life as compared to their other muscular dystrophy patients. They heartily agreed the only difference that prolonged and enhanced his quality of life, was the chiropractic adjustments that he received on a regular basis.

From all of these memories, I learned that dad was dedicated to chiropractic and that chiropractic got results, which I saw and experienced firsthand. Today, dad is 75 years old. He still goes down to his office every day to take care of his patients. He is practicing in the same free-standing brick building he started in 50 years ago. He told me that his total monthly overhead is about $450. He is still married to the same woman he married in 1955 and has lived in the same house for the past 45 years.

Dad's other brother, my brother and I all became chiropractors because of the lessons learned from dad's constant example. We learned important principles of a successful chiropractic practice:

  1. Love chiropractic and your patients.
  2. Know that chiropractic works.
  3. Take care of your patients (make house calls, have them come to your office or home on weekends when necessary).
  4. Be committed to your practice.
  5. Pay cash for everything.
  6. Put down roots and stay there. Be patient with your practice. Don't quit and start up somewhere else.
  7. Keep your overhead low.

To a new practitioner or chiropractic student, these principles may sound like the same old thing you've heard before: "Nothing specific to help build my practice now." But those of us who have been in practice for years know they are true. For example, you have to love chiropractic and your patients! If you do, your actions and commitment will flow out of you naturally and your patients will pick up on it immediately. You won't feel as if you're "forcing it," playing a role or using gimmicks. If you really love chiropractic and your patients, you will do all of the little things that make the difference: call them at home after their first adjustment; send thank-you cards when they refer someone; and if you referred them to a specialist, call them to see how that visit went, before you get the report.

Dad was not a "marketing" doctor. He didn't have to play any "social game" in order to build a successful practice. Never once did he take an attorney to lunch, teach a health care class or a lay lecture, put an ad in the paper or send out a newsletter. He didn't do spinal screenings or join any prestigious clubs.

I know times have changed and you cannot just "hang out the shingle" anymore. However, everything is relative. There is something really beautiful about not having to go out and "beat the bushes," isn't there? Well, it can still be done if you're willing to keep your overhead low, have a strong conviction about chiropractic, confidence in yourself and are patient, it can be done.

Thanks pop, for all those years of your example of dedication to chiropractic. That's why I go to the office every day, just like you.

Dr. Richard Lohr graduated from Logan College of Chiropractic in 1987 and practices in Norridge, Ill. If you have questions or comments regarding this article, contact him at (847)528-7286 or .

To report inappropriate ads, click here.