Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Features Business Management
Editor’s Note: October 2011


October 26, 2011
By Maria DiDanieli

Topics

As DCs, how much do you know about listening?

As DCs, how much do you know about listening?

In collating articles for this, our practice management issue, I noticed an underlying focus on communication. In fact, our contributors often zero in on the message that effective communication can be a key to the profession’s growth, greater practice volume and, most importantly, better clinical outcomes. These repeated efforts by DCs to promulgate formulas for better communication suggest that perhaps chiropractors do not find themselves sufficiently equipped in this area. We often ask ourselves why the profession seems challenged in communicating, as individual practitioners and as a group. Divisions in identity, gaps in favourable evidence, “bad press” and so forth may contribute to this conundrum. But many disciplines – and not just in health care – also face these and other faultlines, at one time or another, and manage to surface relatively unscathed. What, then, are the techniques for overcoming internal elements and creating impactful messaging – and should all DCs have the opportunity to become versed in these as part of their training?

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Whereas formal instruction in communication theory and strategies, particularly as they pertain to health communication, is available to students of several medical schools across North America – at least as electives and/or graduate programs – there does not seem to be one chiropractic program that offers this type of material as a separate course. (Please e-mail me at mdidanieli@annexweb.com if you know of one that does.) Health communication is a vast topic comprising entire programs of study and advanced research that physicians and medical systems, along with their ancillary industries, are coming to understand well and utilize extensively. Given that this seems to be an area in which the profession faces challenges, would it not make sense for the professional chiropractors to gain equal footing in these techniques that have contributed to the successes of other disciplines?

But, as DCs are holistic practitioners, the strategies taught in communications training – which are often only superficially interactive – may not be enough. Writings that outline standard practices in health-related messaging – for example, techniques for tailoring messaging to specific age or cultural groups – make their way into health communication courses and programs that, though useful, serve to develop expertise in little more than clever marketing. However, one health communications program I’ve found does not focus on how to communicate, but on how to listen, more effectively. The premise, here, is that expending equal effort into enhancing skills in this area could be a key to more effective, and ethical, health-centred communication. If so, and once again, wouldn’t formal and systematic guidance in listening skills be important to you as a practitioner, and to the profession in general?

If all these core concepts could then be balanced with practical guidelines given by your colleagues (who are our contributors), might this result in a more well-rounded perspective regarding communicating chiropractic? It is my suggestion that, like research literacy, diagnostic acumen and other areas of clinical expertise, listening and communication skills are not to be glossed over – either in core training, or in lifelong professional development. They are, in fact, indispensable to providing optimal chiropractic care as well as extending this care to many folks who could benefit from it.

Bien à vous,


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