Children are individuals with feelings, interests and goals and should be treated as such. Being curious about what children need and want will not only help you as a chiropractor better demonstrate how chiropractic can help a child maintain good health, it could mean the difference between treating a child now and then, and being renowned in your community for child patient care.
Wayne Gretzky was once asked what the single, most important thing was that made him great. His answer was simple, yet profound. While most players chase the puck, Gretzky said he IS where the puck is going.
Chiropractic IS where the puck is going. You represent total health to your community and people will come to you if you educate them.
And it all STARTS with children. The adults you are treating today might not be in front of you now with their chronic conditions if they had had a caring chiropractor when they were a child, and had learned how to maintain good health through on-going chiropractic care throughout their lifetime.
For example, for years my daughter Andrea often came with me when I went for adjustments but she wouldn’t accept treatment herself. Finally, my current chiropractor, Dr. Andy Stillo, helped her become a chiropractic patient. Naturally, I wanted to know what he had done differently to make Andrea change her mind. Her answer revealed probably the single, most imporant factor for successfully attracting young children to a chiropractic clinic. Her answer: “He was INTERESTED in ME.”
This is a VERY important point in dealing with children. They are real human beings, not objects to be adjusted because a parent says to and then discharged. Be curious about what they need and want. Show them how chiropractic can help them achieve what THEY want, ie. sports achievement, etc. Get them interested in keeping their bodies healthy right from the earliest age. Dr. Catherine Straus runs a pediatrics chiropractic practice in Cambridge, Ontario. When she first decided to make children a central part of her practice, she took a one year course through the International Chiropractic Pediatrics Association. This program increased her knowledge and confidence in dealing with children.
Here are some of the key initiatives that Dr. Straus has implemented to make children a focal point of her practice:
1. Educate patients well on kids and chiropractic. Parents often need to hear the message many times. Have brochures on chiropractic for children, such as the ones put out by Koren Publications or the Peter Pan Potential in California.
2. Make the office comfortable and inviting to children. A warm, family-oriented decor sends out a positive message to children and parents alike.
3. Have a Kids Corner with photos of patients, toys, posters re kids and chiropractic.
4. Place parent testimonials on the bulletin board in view for other patients to read. If a parent is happy with the successful treatment of their child, you could ask “would you be willing to help educate other patients by writing that up?”
5. Do talks in a lot of grade school classes. The teachers she adjusts often ask Dr. Straus to address their students. There is also a notice posted on her practice’s bulletin board that she is available for these seminars and discussions.
For Dr. Sandra Simpson in Oakville, Ontario, her practice’s open-plan concept really works for her because people can see kids getting adjusted and they often ask her about it. Whenever patients mention that their children have an ailment that chiropractic can treat and prevent, she suggests that the parent bring them in for a free initial exam. Dr. Simpson also conducts a Healthcare Workshop that all new patients attend. As part of the overall chiropractic education, she introduces a few cases relating to children. Afterwards, patients ask her questions about their nieces, grandchildren, or their own kids. Talking to PTA groups is a successful action for Sandra. She gears the information towards general health for the main part but mentions kids issues and concerns more towards the end.
The community of Burlington, Ontario comes to Dr. Ogi Ressel’s 5,000 sq. ft. kid-oriented practice because he has a complete resource library for health issues affecting kids and adults where parents, teachers, etc. can come for answers. He says it’s a matter of educating your community in what you do.
Ogi has many tips for focussing the practice on children:
1. First of all, there is no magic formula for this. The starting point is that YOU need to understand fully the concept of subluxation and the devasting effects that can have on health and that chiropractic is a life saving procedure. Your passion for chiropractic will exude and infect your patients.
2. If you have a “back pain, headache, relief care” kind of chiropractic practice, you’re not going to have a successful pediatrics practice.
3. You need to have a lot of informational resources (research articles, scientific journals, and newspaper clippings, etc.) in the practice to help parents feel comfortable about bringing their children in. There is often an attitude of “you’re not seeing my kid unless you have proven yourself to me first.” They have to understand well what chiropractic is before they’ll bring in their kids.
4. Tell patients, “You’re here getting a pain fixed that your child may be at home developing.” Get them to bring their children in now.
5. When treating kids, BE HAPPY AND PLAYFUL, full of FUN, play crazy games with the kids, work out a secret handshake with them, etc. This is probably one of Ogi’s main secrets of success.
6. Keep chiropractic VERY simple for kids with positive choices.
Our consultants have some additional suggestions:
1. If you don’t particularly like treating children, don’t do it. Kids won’t “buy it”.
2. Approach teams such as little league soccer, contact sports, school teams, etc. where kids get knocked around.
3. When you do your initial intake or patient history form, ask the patient if they have children. Later, when the patient is doing well physically, have your CHA sit down with the patient for a 10 minute consult regarding their children and THEIR physical conditions. Educate the parent on why it is vital for children to be treated NOW. Make appointments.
4. Have a package of information on Chiropractic and Children. This should contain data on sports injuries, cholic, scoliosis, headaches, earaches, etc.
5. Parents tend to be oblivious to the amount of knocking-around kids experience in a day. Suggest they follow their kid around for a day and catalogue these bumps so they can see why a kid needs adjustments now to prevent chronic problems from developing. Recently, a pediatric specialist (an MD) of 35 years went into a chiropractic practice and sat down in the kids area. The MD read some of the material there on kids and health issues and chiropractic. He then commented in a rather amazed way: “I know everything about disease and the treatment of it, but nothing about health or healthcare.
How DO you do it?”
Chiropractors know how. SO JUST DO IT!
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