In the summer of 2021, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) started its first member-to-member mentorship program. The inaugural cohort of the program consisted of 20 mentor-mentee pairs made up of members from across the association.
ACA staff worked with a six-member task force of SACA and NextGen members to implement the program. “Based on member feedback, ACA saw the need for mentorship within the organization,” ACA Director of Member Engagement Julie Siegel said. “We really hope this creates a purpose and place by connecting members, increasing their knowledge, and building their skills to be able to achieve future milestones.”
To join the program, applicants filled out a survey detailing their location, type of practice, communication preferences, what they hoped to gain from the program and more. From these surveys, ACA membership staff hand-paired mentors and mentees. The pairs agreed to connect three times a month to discuss topics such as career development, job searching, practice management and more. ACA staff also provides monthly conversation starters to help facilitate mentor-mentee discussions.
Douglas Vander Broek, DC, applied to be a mentor for a chance to give back. “It’s been explained a lot of times that there’s three phases of your life: learning, earning, and giving,” he explains. “I feel like I’m in the giving phase of my life. I felt like I had the time and the flexibility, and maybe I have a few words of wisdom over 39 years to impart to somebody.”
Dr. Vander Broek was paired with Gabriel Kelly, DC, who says it has been a perfect match. “I’ve had a lot of people who could teach me how to adjust better or how to market, but no one that I knew had achieved the things that I wanted to do in my career. Dr. Doug’s CV is like a road map of what I want to do in my career, so we were perfectly matched up, at least in my mind.”
Chiropractic is not Dr. Kelly’s first career, and mentorship is something that he has valued in the past, so he was eager to find a mentor in the chiropractic field. “Throughout all of those different lives, I have recognized the importance of having mentors,” he says. “They’ve been life-changing, career-changing, and I’ve always valued having somebody who’s specifically a mentor.”
Zachary Post, DC, also sought career guidance when applying to the mentorship program. When the program started, Dr. Post was a recent graduate in the process of applying for chiropractic associate positions. His mentor, Lawrence Davis, DC, was able to help him prepare for job interviews by providing advice from a different perspective. “I gave him my perspective as an employer, and we did some role-playing interviews,” Dr. Davis says.
Ultimately, Dr. Post was hired in a chiropractic associate position. “[Dr. Davis] gave me well-informed advice that helped me to land my current job and helped me to lead into the goals that I had set out for the mentorship program,” he says.
Dr. Davis adds, “He was a good pupil, took very good notes, went in and just slammed the interview and got hired.”
Since Dr. Post got his current job, he and Dr. Davis have continued to discuss other aspects of the profession, including insurance and practice management. “He’s been helping me to understand a lot more about what I’ve been wanting to know,” Dr. Post says.
For those who were not able to join the program this year, there will be another opportunity. Siegel says that ACA staff plans to send out a call for applications for the next mentorship cohort at the end of this summer. Drs. Vander Broek, Kelly, Post and Davis all encourage members to apply, either as mentors or mentees. “If you’re prepared to put in the work, it’s 100% worth it,” Dr. Kelly says. “Just having somebody that you can call a ‘mentor’ is not as useful as having somebody that you can speak to and learn from and have that relationship with. You really get out what you put in.”
Dr. Vander Broek sees mentorship as mutually beneficial to mentors and mentees. “I don’t know how much I’ve imparted to Dr. Kelly, but I probably have learned as many things from him as he has from me,” he says. “I think the advantage [of this program] is staying in touch with young people and young ideas. No matter what stage in life we’re in, we can tend to fit into our own demographic, our own age group, and that kind of narrows our horizon of things.”
For newer chiropractors, Dr. Post says the mentorship program is an excellent learning opportunity. “If you have any questions that no one can seem to answer, this is a really great tool to help you find what you need to be able to help better yourself as a person, as a doctor, and as someone who works in the community to help heal people through chiropractic.”
Cassie LaJeunesse is an associate in the ACA Department of Branding and Communications.