Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Keys to Your Practice: April 2012

Angelo Santin   

Features Business Management

As you read the articles in my column, you will notice that I will utilize the quotes of other successful minds in our profession.

As you read the articles in my column, you will notice that I will utilize the quotes of other successful minds in our profession. I want you to understand it is important that whatever ideas and information you receive, you should eventually make them your own. However before you make them your own, you should familiarize yourself with the materials and become competent with them (whether they are scripts or procedures). Being competent in something will make you confident to make small changes and adapt the information to better reflect you. If you find the information I present inspiring and useful, I hope you will take some action steps to make changes for the benefit of you and those you care for.

 Ensure you make eye contact with every patient.



I am going to begin with the most common office visit we see in our clinic as chiropractors – the adjustment visit. This visit provides the greatest opportunity we have to help patients on every level and inspire them with an understanding of the principles of chiropractic.

There are a number of models that I have seen for the adjustment visit, but the one that I chose to follow was the patient-centred four-key protocol from Dr. James Carter. He teaches that there are four keys you must get right in the adjustment visit. The first is to make a connection with the patient. Secondly, tell them something about their spine and health. Thirdly, let them know the problem was found and corrected. Lastly, and most importantly, we need to start predicting some changes that they will experience. Let’s break these down further.

Before we can start to make a connection, it is important to get our “headspace” right before we greet the patient. I recommend pausing before you enter the room or before engaging the patient (if you practice open concept). This allows you to clear your head and refocus. Take a breath, pick up the file or travel card – and then go for it.

When you greet the patient, the first thing you need to do is make eye contact. This seems trivial but few tend to do it consistently. When you are doing this effectively, you will be able to know if the patient is in pain or if a loved one is sick, without saying a word. How important do you think this is to them – and for you? This will increase your affinity with the patient and begin to solidify a bond. Every authority I have spoken with, and/or studied – these include Drs. Demartini and Hinwood as well as Bill Esteb – agrees that this simple act will change your practice.

At this time, the patient will either go face down for their adjustment or will have something to tell you in regards to their condition. The key here is to keep your mouth closed and listen!

I can’t stress this enough. The patient needs to be heard. Once they have finished, then we can respond with something appropriate. If their statement is very specific with regard to their condition (for example, “It’s sore right here”), I recommend a single powerful response: “I understand.” What you want to avoid is an intellectual answer about why they may be experiencing the symptoms, especially before you have even put your hands on them. Once you have actually palpated and checked them, then it is time to make your educated response. They are not looking for you to solve their problem at that moment – they really just want to be heard.

In the next issue, we will visit the other three keys to the adjustment visit that I have mentioned above.

If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please contact me directly as I would welcome a call or e-mail from you.

I want to challenge you to concentrate on three action steps:
Action step #1 – Pause and refocus before approaching your next patient.

Action step #2 – Make eye contact with every patient.

Action step #3 – When your patient speaks to you, try to pause before you respond.

Dr. Angelo Santin is a 2006 graduate of the CMCC. He operates a busy subluxation-based family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is currently serving his second year as president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Dr. Santin is one of a small number of international proficiency-rated chiropractic coaches, and draws on his success, along with the experience of the most renowned experts in this field, to provide time-tested, effective and patient-centred ideas for every chiropractor. He can be reached at or 807-344-4606.

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