Over the past year, I have seen more confusion over Chiropractic and Wellness than advanced level calculus. We, as a profession, are in the midst of an identity crisis and we seem to be paralyzed into a state of fear that if we declare a position on Wellness than we may be giving up our Chiropractic identity and our Chiropractic heritage. In their book, “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”, James Collins and Jerry Porras talk about a philosophy they refer to as “preserve the core and stimulate progress.” They state that all great companies, or in our case, great professions, hold true to their core values and ideologies, but do not become blinded by the fact that things change and we must adapt and grow to survive. They point out that many companies are limited by what they call the “tyranny of the OR”, which is a view that you cannot live with two seemingly contradictory views at the same time. Things have to be either one way or the other. It’s black or it’s white, but it can’t be both. We are faced with this dilemma right now when it comes to Chiropractic and Wellness. We say to ourselves, “I have to be a Chiropractic Center or a Wellness Center, but I can’t be both”. “I have to focus on locating and correcting subluxations and cannot be distracted by teaching people how to live healthier lifestyles by offering wellness services, for this may dilute the patient’s perception, even our perception of who we are and what we do”. Collins and Porras go on to say that truly great companies, companies that stand the test of time, embrace a different philosophy that they call, “the genius of the AND”, the ability to embrace a number of different dimensions or concepts at the same time. Instead of choosing between A or B, they figure out a way to have both A and B. It’s not black and white becoming a mongrel grey; it’s black and white at the same time! For us to move forward we have to embrace Chiropractic and Wellness together. It doesn’t have to be a Chiropractic Center or a Wellness Center, it can be BOTH. Remember, Wellness is an outcome; it is the end result of the care that you render to your patients. It is the “Why” we do what we do and it doesn’t and shouldn’t change over time. The “What” and “How” are unique to each provider and some may chose to use many forms Chiropractic and Wellness-based techniques. As our world changes and it certainly has over the past 50 years, we’ve had to incorporate more services and better strategies to help our patients get well and stay well. If health is defined as the body’s ability to adapt to its environment, then we must acknowledge that our patient’s environments are filled with physical, bio-chemical and mental-emotional stress. Helping patients cope with these outside-in stressors is wellness care and it’s as important as adjusting a patient to help them adapt better from the inside-out.
Chiropractic has stood the test of time as an enduring great profession because it has addressed the fundamental healthcare questions: What is health; how do I achieve it; and why is it important in the first place? People don’t come to see us because of “what” we do, chiropractic adjustments, they come do us because of “why” we do it: the ability to function better in a stress-filled world. Remember, your patients want wellness. Just ask them! And if you don’t provide it, they’ll get it someplace else: the gym, Whole Foods, the health food store, etc.… It’s important to note that patients are willing to pay out of pocket for this type of care because of the value they perceive it having in their life. Gerald Celente from the Trends Research Institute said that “Practitioners of the healing arts, such as chiropractors, naturopaths, and anyone who can teach people how to get and stay healthy will enjoy a booming business. Entrepreneurs who provide simple but effective remedies or high quality ingredients for these remedies will gain the greatest share of the “Heal Yourself Health Care” market, perhaps the biggest growth industry of the next decade.”
Our role is to educate the public that Chiropractors are unique in our approach because we focus on health and not sickness. We must learn to embrace people where they are in the spectrum between sickness and wellness and lead them towards the obvious choice of wellness. Chiropractors are perfectly positioned with our Philosophy, Science and Art to lead a movement so desperately needed right now in this country. Our triune of health model of physical, mental-emotional, and biochemical stresses that affect the nervous system, and ultimately our ability to adapt to the environment, is a WELLNESS concept and model. It is easy to teach and easy for the public to understand and if we don’t do it, another healthcare profession will gladly step in to take what is rightfully ours to teach. Even our Surgeon General, Rebecca Benjamin, MD, MBA was quoted recently saying, “My Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation is an attempt to change the national conversation from a negative one about obesity and illness to a positive conversation about being healthy and being fit. I want to encourage Americans to eat more nutritiously, exercise regularly, and maintain healthier lifestyles” (this would be a good side bar). Easy to say, but who is best suited to lead the application of this message? Chiropractors. Once we get the public to truly understand that Chiropractic and Wellness go together like peanut butter and jelly, we will see more new patients looking for Chiropractors instead of Chiropractors looking for new patients. When patients adopt our philosophy of better health through better lifestyle choices, combined with the power of Chiropractic care, the ultimate result is improved health and quality of life. Wellness care and a Wellness-based practice is a wonderful way to connect with people and open the door to a better, more fulfilling practice. Don’t believe me? Visit our office and see for yourself!
Dr. Dane Donohue is co-founder of 8 Weeks to Wellness®, a national in-office wellness program now offer in over 25 centers around the country. He, along with his twin sister, runs one of the largest multi-million dollar, cash-based wellness center in the country. He can be reached at email@example.com or 215-968-1661.