The number of opportunities you have for professional advancement should be determined by your ambition, not your bank account.
While chiropractic school will provide you with the knowledge you need to pass boards, learning outside of the classroom is a necessity to get the most out of your time as a student. Chiropractors may bicker and squabble over philosophy, but the one thing everyone can agree on is the need for the future chiropractors to be motivated to improve the profession.
It’s common for students to have some reservations about asking others for money.
- It feels like stealing
- It’s embarrassing
- It might hurt my reputation or image
- Too much pride
As Dr. Bedle would say,” When you’re a student, you need to act like a student.” You’re broke. Student loans are a crushing weight on your shoulders. Your refund check can barely keep you afloat. The good news is that every practicing chiropractor knows this and can sympathize with you.
All of these doctors have been where you are before and are on your side. Doctors want to do everything they can to help you succeed. You don’t have to convince doctors to give you money. You have to let them. This is your blueprint for how to allow doctors to help you succeed.
The first thing you need to do is meet other DCs. Every single time a doctor gives a presentation at school, introduce yourself. Visit at least 3 DCs every break and keep in touch with them throughout the school year. Go to health fairs and collect as many business cards as you can. This will be very important for the next step.
Make a list
Get out a pen and paper. Write down a list of every chiropractor you know. Every chiropractor you’ve shadowed. Every chiropractor you got a business card from. Every chiropractor you’ve ever been in the same room with, you put them down on that list. How you know this person or where you met isn’t important, but you’ll get a much better response rate if you have met them face to face at least once.
Before you do anything else, go to their website or Facebook page and write down their email addresses and phone numbers. Put all this information on one sheet of paper and don’t lose it.
This next step might take a while and there is no need to rush it. Finding what interests you and what you want to specialize in might take a while. Many students struggle with narrowing down their list of interests, but with only 24 hours in a day it’s important to do your best to focus on only one or two specialties. Once you’ve done that, learn as much as you can about the topic first before you start asking anyone for money.
The library and media library have textbooks and videos about every seminar and specialty you can imagine all for free. Take advantage of this now while you’re a student. The more you learn about this the more you’ll be able to explain to doctors why it is so important to you, helpful to your future patients, and valuable to the profession. In this case, read everything you can find about NCLC, the legislation briefs, and past articles from the current and former ACA president. This will give you a good idea of the current direction the profession is trying to move towards and will help you explain to your donors why it’s so important that you get funding to go to NCLC.
Contacting the doctor
You have a number of options to contact your prospective donors. Email is a great way to edit and perfect your message then quickly send it out to a large number of doctors. The problem is that it’s impersonal and you have no way of knowing if they ever opened your email. Handling objections via email can also be difficult and time consuming to message back and forth. Visiting doctors in person is a great way to make your message more personal and build your relationship with the doctor.
Being able to see body language can also help you tailor your message. The problem is that it takes a lot of time and it’s easy to forget your talking points. The best way is to contact your potential donor is over the phone. Most doctors have an office manager, so you know you’re phone call will be answered every time. Having a phone conversation is a great way to make your message personal and handle objections quickly without spending a lot of money on driving. A phone call is also a great option because you can have your script or talking points right in front of you and sound professional without the doctor knowing.
Your script needs to gives you confidence. This is your fall back plan—your Teddy Bear, your Thunder Buddy, or Linus’s safety blanket. Your script is there to remind you that even if things get messy, everything is going to be ok. Some things you need to include in your script are a good description of the event you’d like to go to, the reason why you’re passionate about it, where your donor’s money is going, and why your donor should care. Let’s break these down one at a time.
The description of your event needs to be as clear and concise as possible. If it takes you more than 15 seconds to explain it, you’ve got more work to do. (For example, The National Chiropractic Legislative Conference is an event when doctors and students from all over the country come to Washington, D.C. to lobby congress for pro-chiropractic bills. It is the biggest and most successful impact we have on legislation all year.)
The reason you’re passionate about it is going to be individual to you but make sure to highlight who this will help and how it will help them. Make this as emotionally compelling as possible. Find your donor’s heart strings and tug with everything you got. This is going to be particularly easy for NCLC or other chiropractic organizations because you’re willingly volunteering to go fight for chiropractic rights. Doctor’s don’t have time for this, but they have plenty of money to give instead.
Next be very specific about where their money is going. Have the exact figures ready for how much it costs for the hotel, buses, registration fee, and everything else. Know the final total cost of the trip per person too. Telling your donor where their money is going makes you seem more credible and makes your trip seem more thought out. The more they trust you, the more likely they will be to part with their hard earned money.
Lastly, you need to give very tangible ways that this will benefit your donor. Yes, chiropractors want you to succeed and donating money to a good cause is a great way to feel a sense of pride and satisfaction. However, getting something back in return is really what makes the world go ‘round. When your donors give you money to go to NCLC, what they’re really doing is buying job security.
They’re paying for you to get them better reimbursements from Medicare. They’re paying for you to get them a job at the Veteran’s Association. They’re paying for you to do everything you can to pass pro-chiropractic bills on their behalf. No matter where you’re from, no matter what your philosophies are, passing pro-chiropractic legislation will help all of us.
Here are some tips about your script. There are a number of templates you can get. You’re going to combine these phone scripts and email scripts into a message that resonates with you and is worded in a way that you would say it. You’re going to take this customized script and you’re going to practice it. Practice with a friend. Practice with a teacher.
Here’s the most important thing: you’re not going to practice until you feel confident. You’re going to practice until you know where everything you want to say is on the page. No one feels confident their first time. You probably won’t feel confident your second time either but the only way you will eventually feel confident is by actually doing it over and over again.
This can be done by anyone that is willing to put in the time, put in the effort, and follow the system being handed to you. No Kickstarter. No Indiegogo. All you need is a phone. Go shadow some doctors, go watch Alex Baldwin’s speech from Boiler Room, and go pick up the phone and start dialing. If you want to go to NCLC next year, there is nothing stopping you. Get to work.
Randy Thompson, DC, is a 2016 graduate of New York Chiropractic College. Thompson enjoys the challenge of effectively communicating research for practical use and turning satisfied patients into passionate advocates. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/RandyThompsonDC.