The disciplined practice and recognition of the symptoms of chiropractic burnout, and the answer to the question how long does burnout last?
Imagine yourself, for a moment, as an electromagnet. You only become a magnet when you are charged, and if it is not charged, there is no burning desire (BD) or enthusiasm. The result: The exhaustion begins to return. Don’t let anyone interrupt your comics and enthusiasm and you won’t need to know how long burnout lasts.
This is the second in a two-part series, with Part I appearing in issue 2.
BJ Palmer had an expression he called “swipe and check”. You swipe, you check, you get back to the task at hand, and you continue. We can all slip; you know, talking to a patient about the weather. Instead of the patient’s problems, you are talking about the problem of the atmosphere… stop! How about “John, we made a little different adjustment last visit, did that seem to help?” The patient in front of you comes first, not the weather or his golf game.
Ultimately, your order of priority in the work environment is you first. You have to be the drums, the magnet, have the comics and the enthusiasm, before it all starts. Second, the staff. Their batteries, like yours, need to be charged, trained and ready to go. Staff meetings are for this purpose. The third is the patient. You understood? It has to be that way for everything to work. Think about it – it’s fine if you’re right.
Charge, Expel, Reload
The answer is you have to be 100% of the time. You charge, you expel. We must constantly charge because we are expelling. We don’t hold our charge, just like a battery to the electromagnet (you). This cycle is constant, minute by minute. It all comes down to keeping the charge. We don’t work well on less than a full charge.
Does that mean acting? Maybe sometimes. We all have less than robust days. I never want to call those days bad days, because a bad day is when your mother dies, or worse, a child or a best friend. It’s not a bad day if you’re not up to it that day, okay?
Nobody is content to be accused of not having a burnout of some magnitude. If the lack of charge (BD + enthusiasm) lasts long enough, other symptoms will develop. Look again at the Oswesty scale of burnout and you will probably go lower on the scale. You might say to yourself, “Oh, I know someone who is always high and never a symptom of burnout” — no, you don’t know him well enough. They could have lived worse than you think, maybe the worst ever.
Read and read again
I’ve read tons of books about this over the years, not directly on this subject, but on topics surrounding this mindset. You want to read them constantly. The best way is to start each day with one that you may have already started but put away, or never read at all but bought.
If you don’t have any books to start with, choose “How to Make Friends and Influence People”. It’s definitely an oldie but a must-read, and perhaps a must-read again. Dale Carnegie is there. Remember, you want to be the magnet, and these books will help you recharge and stay charged. Always remember that people love people who love people. No book is a home run, but many are base hits, and you need to hit bases before you score home runs.
My daughter, Lisa, used to steal my PMA (positive mental attitude) books. “Think and Grow Rich”, “The Power of Positive Thinking”, “The Leader Within You”, etc. She is now a life coach, helping CEOs and business owners challenge themselves. Most of these CEOs are not burnt out, many are well past it. They just want it to continue like this, to get better, to plug the holes in their lives, to move on and chase the alligators out of the way to cross the swamp.
The more successful you are, the more problems you create. If you really succeed, you really have a lot of problems (alligators). As the Reverend Robert Schuler would say, “If you don’t have problems, you have to get down on your knees and pray for some. Or to put it another way, if you think you have no problem, you really have a problem.
Never say or think of the words “When things calm down, I’ll go blah blah blah”. Things will never work out; they’re not supposed to. You are not dead yet. Think about it: you’re happiest when things are running at full load, you’re on site, staff are on site, and patients are eager to see you (and see you loaded). It’s contagious, and the cycle of positive feedback continues.
How long does burnout last? There is no single ingredient cure
The ingredients of a cure for burnout are numerous. I’m sure you understand the above thoughts, but that’s not all. There is much more. If you are the boss, are you “the boss?” » Are you accessible to all your employees? You should be. You are the giant problem solver in your office.
Listen, ask questions, ask for their thoughts and ideas. Agree before you disagree – see their way first. Be like a best friend to them, at least in the office. Treat them as an equal because they naturally look up to you. Be there for them, because they are extremely important to you in the symptomatology of burnout, remember?
If you think it’s time to hire a coach, you really need to hire a coach. I had a coach in the early 80s. I felt like I needed to get out of a rut with all of this. Was it a burnout? Maybe a little, but I called it a rut back then for some reason. I had only six years of practice.
I had already opened a satellite office and wanted to build a new, larger clinic. My coach helped me every step of the way because the banks were refusing me a loan. The banks said it had never been done before and rejected me. I found out I qualified for an SBA loan and they couldn’t deny me, and I got my clinic in 1984. I bought another practice in 1992 and ran three. I was still working four days a week with patients and at least 1-2 days a week in the clinic to deal with issues. I started the DACS (Diploma in Chiropractic Science) program set up by Life Chiropractic College. Believe me, I had plenty of it on my plate and loved it.
Track professional development
To keep the load, look to reduce any burnout, read a PMA book, seek out a mentor or personal coach, and just as important, improve yourself technically.
Go to seminars on a regular basis, which is a must. You won’t have to wonder how long exhaustion lasts if you have a burning desire to be the master of your craft – not just canoeing in the river of life, not rowing and losing ground as you go. current. You have to go upriver to recharge, and to go upriver you have to constantly paddle – no coasting or you’ll back out.
I know it’s a bunch of metaphors, but you have to get it and ground it. When asked how long burnout lasts, this is what stops cold burnout. The desire, aided with PMA books, audio books and technical improvement seminars, to always have a seminar booked in advance. Listen to them in your car, never music – never. Listen to PMA audio content and chiropractic leadership. I think they are the best. I bought them and gave them to my doctors. It’s not an advertisement for them but an idea. You’ll stay charged and energized by listening to these chiropractic powers.
There are many ways to get out of burnout, and you need to do several of them, not just one. Go ahead and “do it”. Think of yourself as if you were going to be a Navy SEAL of chiropractors. You’re going to know more, study more, work more than anyone else, period. You can’t slow down, you won’t run out of trouble, and you keep pushing the alligators aside; you pass.
There are tons of people who want you to succeed and want to help you. Accept their help, reassure yourself and ask them. It won’t just happen; you have to get there. If you’ve done the above and still have symptoms, ask yourself if you really followed all of the above. There are no failures here, folks, just those who don’t admit it, those in denial. If you do all of the above, you don’t have time to burn out. Make a list; set yourself the goals you set for yourself. Set the right priority, get yourself right first, then everything else will follow.
I don’t want to exclude your family, but it’s not about family. An exhausted chiropractor probably isn’t a happy person, right? All this affects your personal life, good or not so good. Seriously, you do the right thing as I explained and you will be a better person, chiropractor, husband or wife, mother or father.
Understand that burnout has many facets, not just one thing causing the symptoms, and you’ll be on your way. Does it all come naturally, or natural to some? No never. Everyone has to work on it, some more than others. How long does burnout last? Some are in deeper swamps and have to hit harder to get out. Think about where you are and make some changes. We are an ever-changing people, so go for it. Happiness comes with the feeling of accomplishment. Now you know the ingredients to make it happen.
Did I tell you something you didn’t already know? Maybe not, you just needed to hear it again and recharge it.
RONALD WARNINGDC, DACS, graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1973 and received the Diplomate of Chiropractic Science from Life Chiropractic College in 1994. He practiced actively for 42 years and was a member of the Washington State Chiropractic Association (WSCA) since its formation. He served on the Washington Chiropractic Trust for six years as secretary and was an active member of the Central Washington Chiropractors Association and served as their president for six years. He is currently retired and enjoys traveling in Europe with his wife and across the United States by motorhome, visiting 47 US national parks.