10 Survival Skills for Recent Chiropractic Graduates

Lessons I Learned from Dr. Bobby Maybee

By Noah Volz, DC

When I was a chiropractic student, I interviewed 100 chiropractors for my YouTube channel and podcast. This post is about the insights I gained from talking to Bobby Maybee, DC, creator of the Forward Thinking Chiropractic Alliance. At the time of my interview with Dr. Maybee, the FTCA had 3,200 members, and today it has more than 8,000. (Pictured below is Dr. Noah Volz.) 

Here are the lessons I learned from Dr. Maybee:

  1. Ask hard questions. What it takes to survive school and practice are two different things. Many students are lost in their first couple of years out of school, and there are a lot of people who will try and sell them something during that time that may or may not be a good fit. It is important for young doctors to ask hard questions of themselves and their potential employers if they want to succeed. For example, ask and learn about the pitfalls and advantages of being an associate vs. an independent contractor. Determine what is best for your situation and then make sure you know how to legally protect yourself.
  2. Work hard. You have to do the work, and you have to work hard. There is no easy road. Nothing in this profession is given to you. Everyone who achieved anything worked hard for it. Most young chiropractors who come into a practice, either to observe or as a new employee, may look around and say to themselves, “I can do this, too.” That is rarely true. You won’t know what it takes to start and run a successful practice until you try and do it on your own. Then you will discover how much hard work it takes to even get to the point of opening an office, hiring employees, and developing referral networks. There’s a lot of sweat equity you must invest, a lot of long days, and there will be a lot of things you don’t want to do but have to do anyway.
  3. Don’t be naïve. It is important that you develop critical thinking skills. Don’t buy into the rhetoric that success will fall into your lap. It does not work like that, and it never will. You need to watch your back because there are people out there that want to take advantage of you. Not just other chiropractors, but other entities that are trying to take advantage of your inexperience. You must make sure you know as much or more than everyone around you, and that takes effort.
  4. Pretend it’s a video game. Some of the people who are the most successful at running a practice think of it as a video game. They understand there will be traps and pitfalls, but they learn to adapt. These people put aside their personal pride and ego, try different things, and learn to go around the pitfalls after they fall into them the first time. Other people invest a lot of emotions into what they do but lack flexibility. This can be dangerous.
  5. Become a master negotiator. You will be doing a lot of negotiating as a chiropractor. Negotiating with employers, employees, rental agencies, equipment manufacturers, and on and on. You must know what you are worth and how to ensure that you get that. There are going to be a lot of contracts in your future and it’s important to learn from each one.
  6. Be a master trainer. Spend time at the beginning of your career learning about all the jobs in a practice, all the support work, and all the roles necessary to run an office. Learn how to do the most basic things such as how to wash a table appropriately and how to fold laundry, how to develop the basic treatment plan, how to adjust someone without hurting them, and how to listen to their concerns. Once you get the basics then you can take on more management roles: learn to interview and hire candidates, learn about accounting, and learn how to lead and to create an effective practice.
  7. Never give up. When you are a student, you spend a lot of energy learning technique and gaining clinical skills, but that is only a small part of practice. For the first five years after you graduate, you’re going to learn a lot, and you’re going to fail. But if you keep getting up, and learning from your failure, you are going to win. You are going to be completely different every single year after you graduate because of what you’ve learned; if you’re not, then you aren’t progressing fast enough to succeed.
  8. Be patient-centered. Deliver what the patient expects, within reason, and what each patient would benefit from based on their preferences, your personal experience and the best evidence. Take all that information and create a treatment plan. There are a lot of young doctors that neglect the idea that patients are customers. You must consider your patients’ preferences and then be ethical. The ethical box you operate within should never be broken in any way.
  9. Communicate effectively. Communicate with people effectively and make sure you can demonstrate empathy. Communication is one of the biggest predictors of success in practice. If you want to learn anything as you embark on your career, that is the thing you should learn.
  10. Focus on what you need to learn. When it comes to business topics, everything has a learning curve and today much of it you can learn, for free, on the internet. If you put in time to learn how to convert your independent contractor position into an S corporation and how to reap those tax advantages, you can do that. If you want to learn Facebook marketing, you do that, as well. There are no excuses anymore; it’s just applying your time and focusing on what you need to accomplish.

To view the original interview with Dr. Maybee, click here.

Noah Volz, DC is the author the The Master Student: Book 1: Mindset: The Ultimate Guide to Success, Enjoyment and Productivity as a Chiropractic College Student. You can learn more about him at www.drnoahvolz.com.