Q&A with NCLC Presenters: Dr. Austin McMillin

ACA’s annual meeting, the National Chiropractic Leadership Conference (NCLC), is packed with great educational content and world-class presenters. Join us Feb. 28-March 3 in Washington, D.C., to hear from some of the profession’s most compelling thought leaders. Here we pose several questions to one of our featured speakers: Austin McMillin, DC

Dr. McMillin’s Presentation: “Leading-edge Skills-based Spine Rehab for the Field Chiropractor” (on Friday, March 2). (For complete conference information and schedules, click here.)

How did you become interested in the topic you are presenting?

My interest in the rehab and active-care aspect of chiropractic goes back to my residency fellowship at Palmer College of Chiropractic West (PCCW), starting with the development of a back school program for patients at the PCCW clinic modeled after one under development at the San Francisco Spine Institute, and later working through training in the post-doctoral chiropractic rehabilitation diplomate program. The problem was then (and remains now) that many of the traditional protocols (isolation, floor, ball, basic stabilization, etc.) are difficult and cumbersome to implement in a busy chiropractic practice, and these approaches are also inadequately addressed in progressive functional conditioning and better spine health in central body fitness. These directions are incredibly time consuming, slow to progress, and patients get bored, overwhelmed, and more often than not become non-compliant.

My initial and ongoing interest in rehab and active care for the spine is centered on enhancing the basic chiropractic care I can provide to patients and more effectively managing a broader range of musculoskeletal conditions. It’s my opinion that the chiropractic profession should be leading the way in improving functional musculoskeletal care, especially as it relates to the spine in central body fitness.

Based on emerging research and better understanding of functional anatomy, traditional spine directions also do not allow my chiropractic practice to maintain cutting-edge positioning and competitiveness. New information has led to new and better protocols. My ongoing interest in active care has been driven by a focus on always trying to do a better job for my patients, desiring to maintain a strong competitiveness and positive contribution in the health care arena, and desiring to move chiropractic care and integration forward.

New, evidenced-based approaches in rehab and active care for the spine and central body fit perfectly within chiropractic practice. They also help raise the bar in musculoskeletal care. They allow for better care continuum for patients and provide another level of connection to natural health care and wellness.

What has been especially interesting is that moving to better active-care strategies has improved patient follow-up and compliance, expanded patient referrals and improved interprofessional communications.

Who should attend your presentation and why?

Taking steps to improve active care and rehab for the spine and central body is appropriate and, in my view, essential for every chiropractic practice. Any DC or support staff wanting an overview of concepts related to new research-based progressive spine and central body active care/rehab strategies, and wanting to become more competitive through better rehab and active care, and wanting to advance interprofessional relations though evidence-based active care should attend this presentation and use this information to improve patient care.

What about your presentation topic (or you) may surprise people?

Providers are usually surprised at how easy it is to apply better research and evidence-based concepts with respect to rehab and active care, and how open patients and other providers are to treatment approaches that make more sense and are more soundly rooted in functional care. They are also usually surprised at the level of improved patient compliance, the ability to transition to better home care, and generally improved practice competitiveness.

I also think that participants will be as surprised as I have been that the rehab and active care conversation is often an excellent platform to improve the view, openness and mentality of other providers toward chiropractic, and demonstrate that there is often more to modern chiropractic care than they may think. This is especially true when the rehab and active care concepts are cutting-edge and elevate rehabbed functional care to a whole new level.

Are there any new developments in your specialty/topic area that make your presentation at NCLC 2018 especially relevant or timely?

Our understanding of functional anatomy, functional neurology and functional pathology are improving all the time. The better we are at transitioning to more effective and targeted care directions using emerging information, the better we will be at care delivery, and the better we will be at positioning chiropractic as an even more vital part of naturally effective health care.

What makes this information extremely timely at this point, among other things, is the opioid crisis. There has never been a better time to highlight and expand the discussion about the importance of modern chiropractic care, including the range of care approaches that enhance chiropractic adjustments/chiropractic manipulation. Leading-edge active care and rehab should be one of the first things that a chiropractor thinks about when trying to deliver better spine and musculoskeletal care. In fact, better rehab and active care helps address pain and pain relapses.

What’s your best advice to a recent chiropractic college graduate (or, alternatively, what is your best advice to someone who has been in the field for several years and is looking for new challenges or ways to expand their practice)?

My best advice to the recent graduate and seasoned providers alike is to never stop learning, and never stop trying to improve the level of care you provide. Active care and rehab is an ever-changing area, driven by improved understanding and research, and chiropractors should be leading the way to better concepts and interventions. Active care and rehab is also a natural and important area of practice where all chiropractors can and should do better – helping to improve their ability, and the ability of chiropractic, to make a clear difference.

I also recommend, for myself and my DC colleagues, to follow the advice Jeff Bezos as an approach to practice: Stay solidly on a “Day 1” mentality. He says, “What happens on Day 2? Day 2 is statis. Followed by irrelevance. Followed by complacency. Followed by a slow, painful death. It’s always Day 1.

Use new and better active care and rehab, and the research and understandings emerging in that area, to help you stay on a Day 1 mentality for chiropractic and your practice.


Learn more from Dr. McMillin about this topic by joining us Feb. 28-March 3 in Washington, D.C. Register for the annual meeting today by clicking here. Join the conversation online by using the hashtag #NCLC2018.