Some chiropractors specialize; others do not. Some chiropractors in practice say specializing is “the only way to go,” while others say they believe in being generalists. What are the advantages and disadvantages of specializing?
ADVANTAGES OF SPECIALIZING
• If you specialize in one technique, you should become very good at it. You will learn your technique through repetition and in time you should become very skilled at what you do.
• This skill can attract patients who are referred by those benefiting from your skill. In some cases, no one else within a wide area will do what you do, and you may get patients from long distances coming to you for care. This phenomenon is common in healthcare practices, and some doctors and centers become widely known throughout the country or the world for their skills and abilities. The Mayo Clinics are just such an example.
• Of course, along with skill and recognition comes the ability to charge fees at a higher rate and to stay away from managed care and Medicare.
• Finally, recognition of your skills and abilities may extend to offers for speaking, testifying on cases involving your specialization, and other forms of recognition.
• Even if you don’t gain national stature in your field, you can have the benefit of colleagues who are working in this technique to share experiences and help each other with patient issues, and you can go to seminars and workshops to learn from others in order to fine-tune this technique.
• If you want to work with one type of patient, say children and young parents, you may find one or two techniques that will enable you to provide care for these individuals.
DISADVANTAGES OF SPECIALIZING
• While it sounds great to think of national recognition, fame, and fortune from one technique, you are giving up the opportunity to use other techniques that might be helpful to your patients.
• Limiting yourself to one technique may limit your ability to provide care for some patients. You may find that you are referring out patients who have concerns you can’t treat. Referring out also means you lose income from those patients who go elsewhere because you can’t treat them.
• On the positive side, many people still like going to a “general practitioner,” who can address many of their health concerns and issues and who is not going to try to force them into a one-size-fits-all model of care.
• As people age, their health concerns change. What works for 20-year-olds may not work for 50-year-olds. Having many techniques will help you if you want to be a family doctor providing care for all ages.
Whether you decide now to specialize or to be a generalist, you can change your mind. You may start out using several techniques, only to find that you naturally use one almost exclusively. Alternatively, you may start out specializing and then add several other techniques to your portfolio to help a wider variety of patients. In each case, being aware of the possibilities and keeping an open mind is a useful way of thinking.
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