You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

We’ve never met a chiropractor who came out of Chiropractic College with the business wisdom that they needed. The average chiropractor or chiropractic student has spent anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000 to be educated in the philosophy, science, and art of chiropractic but, upon graduation, they still come out with little to no business education or experience. It’s not that a chiropractic education isn’t worth that amount of money, it certainly is; it’s just that our colleges don’t teach complex business principles.

From the initial decision to go to chiropractic school through the entire education and degree process to the licensing and board review process, most chiropractors never thought about the fact that they had to be a businessman or businesswoman once they graduated and started their career. The average mindset of the new graduate is, “If I open my doors, they will come;” and once they figure out that it doesn’t work that way, they become disengaged with the prospect of running the business, because they simply want to love and treat the patients, not run the day to day operations of a self-employed business.

In the chiropractic world today, the CCE requirements and restraints that the universities are put under make it nearly impossible for our schools to teach the business principles necessary to succeed as a practicing chiropractor. Let me take this opportunity to say that most universities do a great job at preparing students in the philosophy, science and art of chiropractic but, because of the lack of business education, we find our profession in a state of disillusionment about what it takes to operate a chiropractic practice. Statistics show that 82 percent of our practicing chiropractors nationwide struggle to pay their bills or don’t pay them.

Over all the years that we have been around chiropractic, we have gone to many graduations at various chiropractic schools. As we sit there and watch the graduates walk across the stage, we always ask ourselves, “Which two out of each ten graduates are actually going to be successful?” Of actual graduates, 50 percent of them fail, and nearly 20 percent of them never even use the diploma, itself.

We believe that this failure rate is due to the lack of business training. The principles that a businessman utilizes to make his or her business flourish are so foreign to the chiropractic profession. Over the years we have seen that most chiropractors have a tendency, regardless of their background, to envision the operation of their practice completely differently than how the business world would approach such an endeavor. Most doctors, upon graduation, think they know how to pick markets and locations, how to manage the practice, staff it, equip it, market it, etc. But, once they get out and start practicing, they realize that knowing how to run an efficient, proficient, productive, and profitable chiropractic practice is not as simple as they thought.

Obviously, we can’t address all the nuts and bolts of running a practice in one magazine column, but we can tell you that, if you’ll remember these three things, it can help put you on the road to being successful as a chiropractor. If you get these three things right, it’s hard to fail. If you make a mess of any one of these three factors, you’re going to have hard times. It’s like a three-legged stool. Leave one of those legs off and you’ll probably end up on your tail.

What are the three things to remember? Get the right LAND, use the right PLAN, and be the right MAN (or WOMAN). With that formula, it is hard to fail.

What happens nine times out of ten in today’s world is the chiropractors are picking the wrong land. They’re choosing the wrong markets for the wrong reasons. They’re picking the wrong locations for the wrong reasons. They have no idea what goes into choosing a good market for a chiropractic practice.

To add to those mistakes, the doctor doesn’t have the right plan. Many doctors don’t utilize any type of business system at all. In today’s world, overhead is too high; marketing is too expensive; you can’t afford to shoot from the hip any longer. You have to have a genuine system from A to Z that answers how to run a successful chiropractic practice.

And, even if the right concepts and procedures are in place, the doctor still has to exemplify the right attitude, be willing to put action behind the right attitude, and be committed to being a life-long learner. When you’ve decided you know it all, you’re on the wrong road! Be willing to learn and grow as a person.

You don’t know what you don’t know. Commit to finding out what it is that you don’t know, commit to learning, and change your situation. Remember the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Get educated on the business of chiropractic and let 2010 be the year that you help more people with the power of chiropractic than ever before.


Tom Owen III, President of AMC, lectures extensively from coast-to-coast to thousands of chiropractors and students annually. He is the author of Chiropractic from a Business Man’s Perspective, and has spent the last 25 years in the day-to-day trenches of the chiropractic profession. He lives by his quote that “In the end, all that is left are the lives we’ve touched and to what extent they were changed.”

Dr. Osborne, a 1989 graduate of Palmer College, ran a successful high volume multiple doctor practice, and is currently Vice President of AMC, Inc., as well as an author and lecturer. Visit or call (877) AMC-7117 for more information.

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