Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Keys to Your Practice: Safe or significant?

Angelo Santin   

Features Clinical Patient Care

I recently attended my first Chiropractic Awareness Council Spring Conference.

I recently attended my first Chiropractic Awareness Council Spring Conference. I was amazed at the energy that all of the talented speakers and other chiropractors had all weekend. Like most chiropractors, I felt it was time to fill the gas tank in order to keep my practice engine going.

During the seminar, one of the speakers said something very profound: “In chiropractic, do we want to be safe or significant?”


I jotted this line down in my notebook knowing I would return to it on the plane ride back from the seminar. In contemplation, I began to go through a list of the things I do every day to be safe and accepted. Whether conscious or not, these actions will not take my practice or profession to the next level – where we are the gatekeepers of health care for our communities. 

Let’s take a look at areas in our practice where we may be playing it safe and in turn making our practices, and our profession for that matter, suffer.

First office visit
This is where many chiropractors set the tone for decreasing the significance of subluxation and its effect on human potential.

Are you seriously examining the spine in a way that will demonstrate the need for care, or are you simply going through your history and exam as if you were hanging out with friends? Is this casual behaviour carried over to your report of findings?

We have all heard ourselves or colleagues say things like, “a little spur” or “some signs of degeneration” and even “this is normal for your age.” Are we playing it safe with messages like this? Absolutely. Is it relaying the significance of the problem? No way.

Get serious with your history taking and follow that with an exam that demonstrates the need for care with intensity. This will make the report of findings a mere formality as the patient will know the importance of starting their care. Own this area and know, without a shadow of a doubt, that spinal problems can interfere with the nervous system and reduce a person’s quality of life. 

Read some philosophy or current subluxation-based research and meet with other colleagues that own it. Do whatever it takes to increase your confidence in chiropractic so you can be significant in your first few visits with the patient in front of you.

With regard to recommendations for care, are you not recommending enough for fear of rejection? 

By playing it safe with recommendations your patients may not achieve the results that chiropractic deserves. You will miss creating miracles and will certainly prevent chiropractic from being significant to our communities.

Other recommendations – home care instructions, things patients need to avoid and exercise regimens – should be approached with equal importance and intensity. Are you telling patients what they want to hear versus what they need to hear?

Community engagement
I may rub some in the profession the wrong way with this, but (I’m going to take my own advice on this one) I would rather tell you the way I see it and make this publication significant than write something I think you will all like but does not necessarily ring true for me.

The majority of the profession are not telling our communities the true chiropractic story. Either we are not engaging our communities enough, or when we do we give them a watered-down, safe, confusing message of what chiropractic is. At public displays or talks, things like core strength, stretches, orthotics and other modalities are frequently shared with the public, which is totally ancillary to what we do and is not sharing the true benefits of chiropractic – not to mention the fact that they are not unique to our profession. 

When engaging the community, consider it your opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives and take it seriously. The public needs YOU to tell them that their spine houses the nervous system and that their health can be affected by spinal problems. No message can be simpler and more significant for people to hear.

Can these tips lead to a busier practice and in turn affect the whole profession? I believe they can, and I have seen people flock to chiropractors who do these things well while applying them with common values like honesty, integrity and straightforwardness. 

Patients flocking to us is something I believe our practices and profession could use desperately. This is possible if you can answer one question honestly: are you willing to give up safety for significance?

Angelo Santin, DC, operates a busy subluxation-based family practice in Thunder Bay, Ont., and is president of the Thunder Bay Chiropractic Society. Dr. Santin is also a Carter Universal proficiency-rated chiropractic coach. He can be reached at or 807-344-4606.

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