Monday Morning Motivation | Unprofessional

Posted by Bill Esteb on Nov 29th 2020

Monday Morning Motivation Masthead

A struggling chiropractor may deny it but dig deep and they're often more afraid of success, than failure.

With success comes increased responsibilities, greater scrutiny, larger risks and of course judgment.

These can be formidable barriers, even for those who claim they want to help more people.

Ironically, when asked to list activities that could grow their practice, they can quickly list a half dozen. "I've already tried those. They don't work."


Clearly, there's a major blockage here. And it's almost always emotional. It's too scary. Too risky. Too much work. Or the more reliable, all-purpose standby excuse, it's "unprofessional."

Apparently, unprofessional means anything a medical doctor wouldn't do.

Ironic, since busier chiropractors rarely have such concerns. Busier chiropractors make practice about serving patients, not their ego; the suffering of patients, not their pride.

Only as we serve others, will we be served. It doesn't happen any other way. 

It's a bit ambitious to explore the implications of unprofessional with the 150-word limitation above.

So, let's go a layer or two deeper.

Let's not confuse unprofessional with some other types of conduct.

Poor judgement – Certainly inappropriate patient touching qualifies as unprofessional conduct. Yet, that's rarely what's holding back the careers of struggling chiropractors.

Selfish – Permitting self-centeredness to rein by disregarding patient appointment times is unprofessional. This is rarely an issue among struggling practitioners who treasure every appointment, and then selling their time instead of their talent.

Tragedy of the commons – With an "every man for himself" mentality, promoting a $49 exam (regularly $250 value) is probably unprofessional as well. And while that may reflect poorly on other chiropractors it's a poor business decision that is unsustainable.

There are certainly many flavors of what probably constitutes being unprofessional. And those who have taken on the assignment of protecting the profession from itself can probably list others. But that's not my point.

My point is that those who look to medicine as a standard for chiropractic are likely suffering from an identity crisis.

Press in and you can detect that they're a little ashamed of being a chiropractor. They're jealous of the cultural authority afforded medical practitioners. And see themselves as second-class health care workers. Or worse, think of themselves as merely spinal therapists.

And it's no wonder. Most chiropractic colleges have chosen to focus on the spine as a body part in the way gastroenterologists focus on the digestive track.

It's the difference between being seduced by the orthopedics of the spine rather than focusing on the whole-body effects of a compromised nervous system that it is designed to protect.

This subtle shift from micro to macro has profound implications.

Besides the challenge of marketing, this micro view is a common denominator among those who are struggling. In other words, get the big idea and all else follows.

Bill Esteb Headshot Photo

Bill Esteb has been a chiropractic patient and advocate since 1981. He is the creative director of Patient Media and the co-founder of Perfect Patients. He’s been a regular speaker at Parker Seminars and other chiropractic gatherings since 1985. He is the author of 12 books that explore the doctor/patient relationship from a patient’s point of view. His chiropractic blog, in-office consultations, patient focus groups and consulting calls have helped hundreds of chiropractors around the world. His Monday Morning Motivation is emailed to over 10,000 subscribers each week.