Dynamic Chiropractic Canada – August 1, 2014, Vol. 07, Issue 08

Starting in to Practice

By Jaipaul Parmar, DC

Upon completion of my undergraduate degree in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology at the University of Northern British Columbia, I was working in a chemical plant lab and knew this would not be the career for me. I then headed south to Portland, Oregon to pursue a career in chiropractic at the University of Western States. Although I loved being in Oregon, I knew I would return to Canada to start in to practice. The biggest question was where? I was considering starting practice in my northern home town of Prince George in or in Victoria on Vancouver Island. When prioritizing what was important to me in having a work/life balance, it didn't take long to realize I would love to practice in Vancouver. Being close to family, friends, big city entertainment, mountains and the ocean made Vancouver the easy choice.

In school, it is easy to get caught up in finals and board exams, but luckily while still studying, I started envisioning what kind of practice would be ideal for my style. As chiropractors, we have some options as to what we can do for practice style as soon as we graduate. I started in to practice by offering locum coverage to doctors around Vancouver. This helped me not only become comfortable adjusting higher volumes of patients and learning the details of British Columbia specific chiropractic practice, but also to discover my favorite things about different practice styles. I then took these findings and spent about a year to establish the practice which I now co-own and practice at, Alliance Wellness in Vancouver.

The mission of my practice is to offer a truly integrated paramedical health team for every patient. The alliance team consists of chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopathy, naturopathic medicine, registered massage therapists, acupuncturists, traditional Chinese medicine, counseling, and yoga therapy. We strive for excellent client service and are constantly collaborating on patient files for the best clinical outcomes. Patients enjoy coming to the clinic because they know they can trust that no matter what the condition or goal, the team will work together to help achieve the desired result.

There have been some challenges that have surfaced as a chiropractor and small business owner.

In school, the focus is to become the best chiropractor you can with some business education along the way. What I quickly learned and continue to learn is that being a chiropractor and small business owner are not two different things, they are reciprocally important. When running a health related business, there are numerous factors to consider before opening your doors. We have a unique target demographic for chiropractic patients, that doesn't necessarily come rushing through our doors on opening day.

It is important to build strong relationships with people and other businesses that will turn in to referrals and therefore the start of your business. To do this I began by volunteering at outreach and sporting events and doing community talks. By being involved in the community, I was able to meet many potential patients and start to build a name for myself as a practitioner. One key thing to do when out in the community that I find works well, is to not focus on acquiring a patient. The better focus should be patient education on potential conditions they may have, tennis elbow for example. I have not lost sight of the importance of the community involvement and continue to many outreach events and public talks throughout the year.

Chiropractic education is the foundation to your practice and as long as you do what is in the best interest of your patient, the business will grow over time. This is something that every established chiropractor has said to me and I recently had an epiphany moment with it. I know this statement to be true and never questioned it, but always wondered what does that mean.

Do some chiropractors not do good work? How long does it take to run a successful business? What do I need to do to be successful? There is no right answer and what I have discovered is that every patient that I have worked with is a walking billboard for your practice. I have been in practice for only four years, but each day I go in to work and some patient has resurfaced from a year or two ago, or has referred their work colleague or wife or child. This is still very exciting for me and I hope I never lose that excitement. It is not about the numbers of patients, it's about what you do with each patient that really matters. This does not mean spending excessive amounts of time with each patient, it just means listening to your client, doing quality work and treating each patient as an individual each visit and not as a condition.

The general rule of thumb for practice should be, do what you do well and consult the right professionals to let them do what they do well. Some pointers for those starting in to practice:

  1. Hire a real estate agent that understands you and your vision. This will ensure the space you get in to will be a good long term fit and a space you will be happy to be.
  2. Hire a good professional team for accounting and lawyers. This will ensure that all your business administrative obligations will be met and done correctly to begin with.
  3. No matter the size of your planned business, consult a marketing firm. You will have an idea of what you think will attract patients, but the reality is any help in this field should be welcomed warmly.
  4. Talk to other chiropractors and business owners in general. This will help you think about things from varying perspectives and ultimately help shape your successful practice.

Dr. Jaipaul Parmar is a 2010 UWS graduate practicing in Vancouver,BC. In addition to managing Alliance Wellness clinic, Dr. Parmar instructs courses in anatomy and pathology with the faculty of registered massage therapy at Vancouver Career College. Dr. Parmar also serves as a director on the British Columbia Chiropractic Association and is a director of the board for Mothers Against Drunk Driving Metro Vancouver chapter.

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