Being Professional in Chiropractic Marketing
Recently I had an opportunity to speak with Dr. Jeff Scholten of Calgary Alberta Canada. Dr. Jeff is a fantastic leader in the upper cervical community. He is involved in just about everything that’s going on in the world of upper cervical including NUCCA, The Upper Cervical Research Foundation, theUpper Cervical Diplomate, the ICA Council on Upper Cervical Care and The Upper Cervical Experience. All this while running a multimillion dollar practice with multiple associates and a beautiful family. You’re going to love this interview! There was so much good stuff I had to break it up into two blog posts. So here is part two. If you haven’t read part one yet here it is.
Dr. Jeff Scholten
Dr Davis: And moving on to something else that has multiple positive outcomes and that is research and the Upper Cervical Research Foundation, I know that you have been involved with NUCCA for a long time and also the leadership of the Upper Cervical Research Foundation. Can you talk briefly about the UCRF and why and how an Upper Cervical Doctor might get involved there.
Dr Scholten: Absolutely.
10 years ago, Michael Thomas and I wrote an article for the upper cervical monograph called “A Shift in the Prevailing Winds” There was a time I was in practice for 2 years at that time, it is interesting to look back and see that and see what has changed, but NUCCA was set up, was done so beautifully because it was set up to be able to evolve and to be managed by committee beautifully. It really has matured into that very nicely.
There was a secondary arm that was set up, NUCCRA, to research the procedure and to research what was going on in the procedure. And that continued to happen and it was published in the Upper Cervical Monograph which is online. It is just a wonderful body of knowledge that was created.
But right around that time and I do not think that it was a direct result, it is more of–The “A Shift of the Prevailing Wind” article was the result of this type of thought process in a wide range of people but there was a recognition that we really started having to concentrate on what reducing this ASC really did for human beings physiologically. What does that look like?
And so NUCCRA continued to exist but was more on the technical side and is now our standards and certification board in NUCCA. But UCRF was what NUCCRA started to be called with the idea that the mandate kind of changed a little bit. Then it changed to what was going on. You saw the hypertension study come out after that. And then there was the blood flow studies that are going on right now with migraines and a whole range of things while simultaneously still working to publish the reliability and validity of our tests and measures.
These entire process all has to happen behind the scenes and it is done by volunteers and people who are working very hard to try to position Upper Cervical in a spot that can allow people to access it.
To get involved with UCRF if you are a NUCCA member you can join the Gregory Circle. The Gregory Circle is something where your extra money that comes in goes to NUCCA Research and then that NUCCA Research has to be disseminated. Charles Woodfield our research director will travel to different conferences, put poster presentations out, talk to other researchers, talk to other professionals, and let them know what we are doing. That really helps the reputation of NUCCA in the chiropractic community, in other professional communities that exist, and research community. UCRF does a ton of that kind of stuff for such a small group with such a small budget; it is really tremendous what is going on.
If you like it, be a Gregory Circle Member. It is not that much to join the Gregory Circle but it makes a big difference. 25% of NUCCA members are Gregory Circle Members. It is unbelievable how many people within our organization are really there to support everything moving forward. The idea is that our individual practices can only do so much. We cannot really do that much. We can only help a certain number of people.
I did a little retrospective analysis in my practice. In 2002 there were 214 individuals that I saw in that first year of practice which is not a lot. Last year we collected over a million dollars, $1.15 and we only saw 2,100 people. We are in a city of a million people. Probably 80% of them have a subluxation in their upper neck. Probably 50% of them have their life negatively altered by it. And probably 20% of them have their ability to be a productive member of the society negatively affected.
In this practice with 3 NUCCA doctors we only were able to see 2,000. It is just a drop in the bucket. To me when I look at that, it is constantly just saying like, “What can I do outside of this place? How did I have this plate spinning and it is good? What can I do to help more people get help” and I cannot do that by putting my hands on all those people individually. It is impossible.
If we can work together and collaborate and use UCRF as one of those places that I will put a lot of my energy into in terms of what I feel very valuable for us helping people get help in the next hundred years.
Dr Davis: That is great.
If someone is not a NUCCA member but they want to get involved in the research that is being done at UCRF, should they just go to www.ucrf.org and learn more about that there.
Dr Scholten: Yeah thank you.
There is a category. It is called a research philanthropist. You can just give money to UCRF. You can support projects. If you like a project that they are working on, you can support that project individually. If you like the public relations part, you can support that or you can just be on general funds to UCRF. I promise you it will be well stewarded and well utilized. UCRF has done a ton and it continues to do a ton.
Last thing, if you are a practitioner whether you are in NUCCA or not, you can participate in UCRF Annual Fund Raising Event which just ended at the end of November. Our office had asked patients if they want to contribute to NUCCA Research. We collected $3600 I think from practice members, patients who felt like they wanted to contribute. In Canada, they cannot even get a tax benefit right now and so they are not getting any tax benefit. I was really impressed.
I think last year we did quite a bit more but that was because we had a lot of larger donations because we could get tax benefits last year. So we are working on the Canadian ability to do that again through our Gregory Memorial Foundation which I am a board member of here in Canada but right now we do not have that ability. But still, Small Steps to Success has been a huge piece to help us find an Upper Cervical Research Foundation.
Thank you for everybody who is involved and will be involved.
Dr Davis: Great, shifting gears again Jeff, you have built a good practice. You have been able to train successfully many associates. If I was interested in building the type of practice that you have or someone was interested in taking their practice to the next level. How could someone have you consult with them?
Dr Scholten: Absolutely.
I get a lot of calls and inquiries from people who want help when it comes to professional referrals or practice development. That is where Practice Innovation is very helpful. There is a website called www.UCpracticeinnovation.com and on there you can sign up for a monthly membership and any extra money that comes into that goes into research but basically there are videos for three years of Practice Innovation on there that people can watch. People speaking on all sorts of topics related to the business of Upper Cervical. It is really spectacular!
People would call me and ask me questions but I refer them to that website. For $60 a month, you can watch all the videos you want and once you are done with the videos you can sign off and not pay $60 a month anymore. It is really a wonderful way to get ideas for practice building for the upper cervical practice.
Outside of that, if they want more, then I do consultations. I consult on an hourly fee per consultation basis. I also do work with groups like right now I am working as an adviser to the chairman of the board of the Upper Cervical Health Centers.
If they need more of a structure coaching model, I work through the Chiropractic Way Consulting Group which has excellent products available. So I can coach people through that as well when there are a lot of the other extra pieces that people might want that are available.
There are a lot of options that are available for how they can connect with me. I tend to stay really busy so there is always limited time. It is nice for people to have options for how they want to interface and how they need to find the information they need to be a successful as they can.
Just like a patient, that is my goal that we got of a lot of really successful and very professional upper cervical chiropractors in the world and more of those that we have the more people that will be helped. Everything will be for both our profession and humanity.
Dr Davis: Absolutely.
So Jeff, you are one of the busiest guys that I have ever seen and are an inspiration to me to stay involved in a lot of different areas that I am passionate about. I know of another area that you are passionate about and that is the ICA Council on Upper Cervical Care and the Diplomate Program. Can you talk briefly about that as well?
Dr Scholten: Thanks Bill. It is such a nice thing for you to say.
It is a funny thing. I was reading in our kitchen here at the office. Somebody put a quote up–we have quotes on our fridge–and that said, “The intersection of your greatest passion and your skill is where you want to be.” For me it is just a labor of love. It is not really very much laborious activity because when you take work, work to me is different than effort. An effort into something you are passionate about is not work. It is inspiring. For me, doing this just keeps me inspired and keeps me enjoying it.
I do not know how people do not do that type of stuff honestly. I am so happy that you also see that. And I love the fact how engaged you are with everything Bill. I really appreciate you for that.
But one of the things that we know we need in the profession is for the professionals to differentiate and be respectful of each other. Early on when everything was cloistered and people were under fire, people were going to jail, that is not happening anymore. There is a bunch of chiropractors out there, we recognize that. There is always going to be somebody complaining about the challenges that they have but I think most people that are successful really are recognizing the opportunities that we have been given through the struggles of the people before us.
To me to give back is the way I do honour to the people who did all the things that allowed me to do what I do. I feel like if I do not give back if I do not try to push ahead a little further then it is an insult to all the people who created the things that I take now for granted.
One of the things that we know that needs to happen is that we need to be respectful of general chiropractors and we need to have people who are maybe working with athletes out there in more physical rehab ways from a chiropractic perspective.
The upper cervical spine, the cranial cervical junction is the only place that if you catastrophically injure it makes you dead right away. We know that area is crucial to human health and well-being and we know that it needs to be dealt with very specifically and precisely; it should not be dealt with like another link on the chain. It needs to be dealt by dedicated professional and there are people who can deal with it in a basic way. But when people who are having real trouble; we need somebody who can take the level of complexity and elevate that and that is us. That is the Upper Cervical chiropractors.
NUCCA is one of those approaches of course but there are a variety of other procedures and there is a variety of other ways that people do things. We have developed and paralleled over the years and we really need to start communicating. We need to have advanced training. People out there on their website call themselves specialists but specialists are very clearly defined in professional terms and that is what it comes back to again you cannot get professional referrals if you are not a professional.
You have to understand how the people communicate. My name is spelled Jeff and if you call me Tyler that is not going to get me to turn around. We have to be able to communicate with people in the language they speak. And to that end you have to educate yourself on what it is, what they are saying, and how it is they communicate. It takes patience. You have to walk slowly and carefully through a field that you do not understand what is there. So you do not stub your toe right?
That is the same with us. Many people just push and drive hard and then make a lot of mistakes and make a lot of enemies. For us I think, in Upper Cervical Chiropractic we have seen that happen. We need to come back together and we need to have less of “I am better because you are bad.” kind of mentality. We really need the “I am great because of this and you are great because of this.”
We need to understand what we are doing is good and bring that together so that we can continue to develop all these procedures that all have different pieces. From an Upper Cervical Diplomate perspective, I think Bob Brooks articulated this best when he said, “God put truth in a box and punched a bunch of holes in it and we are looking at it from a different perspective.” But there is only one truth and whether you take that as the elephant, the blind man feeling the elephant. It is the same kind of a concept and we have to recognize that.
The Upper Cervical Council came in to development to bring together all of the upper cervical approaches. I saw that as a really important thing. And then the Diplomate started. I love being involved. I love learning so I decided to do the Diplomate and I have not been disappointed. It has been spectacular. I know more now by far than I did 2 years ago before I started the Diplomate. I think I knew a reasonable amount of stuff before but it is just wonderful.
The first diplomate program will wrap up in July of 2015. And then the second one will start somewhere thereafter. We wanted to do one and fully get through before we start the second. Eventually down the road, in ten years hopefully they will be concurrently running in different cities. But right now we just have to make sure that we steward this properly.
There are currently 20 candidates. And all of these candidates have learned so much in different level of expertise on their own subset of the Upper Cervical Profession. But if people have learned about each other drastically and significantly, and they are doing research, we desperately need people who understand how to do research. Clinical research is really important for us to really move forward again as a subset of the profession. We need to have true specialists in the upper cervical spine and in the cranial cervical junction to understand the chiropractic procedures that work to bring things back to a more normal orientation for people who need that. The Diplomate and the Upper Cervical Council is the group that is doing that.
Anybody who is reading this should be paying a $150 a year which is almost nothing to be a member of the ICA’S Upper Cervical Council, to show support for the idea that the upper cervical spine deserves a dedicated practitioner. It is vital and complex enough to deserve a dedicated practitioner. It is what each individual does and the decisions that they make to just do that little tiny bit of extra that eventually makes a huge difference in the long term.
The Diplomate is a big thing for Upper Cervical Chiropractic and I am now the president of the council. And I request everybody’s support of that council.
Dr Davis: Excellent. That is great.
Lastly, Jeff I wanted to talk about the Upper Cervical experience. Readers of this blog and my newsletter, hopefully are already getting excited about the upper cervical experience. I know I am very excited. I cannot wait.
Dr. Jeff can you just give us an update on the preparation and the planning that has been going on with the experience?
Dr Scholten: Yeah. This is an interesting thing right.
I am about to go to Davenport tomorrow morning for my last Diplomate of the year. I had 28 conferences this year. This is the most conferences I ever had. It was just an unbelievable year. A tremendous but also challenging to maintain the relationships and the business and all of these other pieces that are associated with that, next year is going to be very different which is wonderful.
But one of things that we recognize is that a number of years ago through really UCHC but also as part of the collaborative movement the Upper Cervical Health Centers started Upper Cervical Evolution. And Evolution had a wonderful first go and people were looking to collaborate. We need that in Upper Cervical Chiropractic. Eventually Evolution became more of a UCHC thing and less of a profession wise thing.
NUCCA did practice Innovation which Dr Friedman, who was really instrumental in starting and I was involved in the first year but then I took over in the subsequent years. And then there was the Upper Cervical Fusion than came out of the Diplomate starting. That was really bringing together the research, technique, and mastery so that we can cross train basically and understand what different professionals were doing. I never really understood knee chest until I went to Fusion. Then when I understood it, I got it.
People often think ignorance is bliss in terms of you do not understand. You think it is wrong. Once you start understanding it then you understand what is right about it again. So learning all these different things is the key but then the Diplomate comes out and as of 2016 the Diplomate group is going to need an annual conference as well to attend to maintain the Diplomate. That is going to be another one.
The group of us–Dr Drury and UCHC’s Evolution, Dr Lenarz was the conference planner for the Fusion Event on behalf of the Upper Cervical Council and myself for the Practice Innovation and a variety of other leaders in the profession–we came together and we greatly saw a need to bring these things together. We saw a need for a trade show to happen.
A bunch of doctors, Darren White, Kerry Johnson, Julie Mayer Hunt, Bob Brooks and a whole range of other supportive people got together and did some brainstorming on this. And we decided that we would reinvent how this was and take the best of all these different ones and put them together.
And so one of the things that happens in the experience is that the curriculum–and I am in charge of the curriculum of that and I am working with Dr Mychal Beebe and Dr Ian Bulow and Joey Miles on the curriculum and Julie Hunt also put some effort in there and helps us out–the idea is that it is a scalable event. We have a CA tract but it is only going to launch if enough CAs are registered. We have spouses tract but it is only launching if enough spouses are registered. We have a whole range of presenters that are available and there will be some basic number of presentations that are going to happen but as more people are registered it will scale out and more presenters will be put on.
We are kind of doing an advent calendar style release right now where every day in December we are putting a new presenter on the website. And so we got Ian Bulow and Terry McCoskey who were the first and second in December and Curtis Westersund who just got put on here today who is a dentist. There will be people on there tomorrow and the next day. Every day they are going to see another presenter. And we already have 70 some registrants and that was at the early early bird without saying what the curriculum was or who our presenters were.
I think people recognized that this is a need. We need people to come. Our profession needs people to come. People need this for themselves and their practice. Their staffs need to come to this. They need to be able to be part of this. We need a gala dinner. We need to have awards for Upper Cervical Chiropractors so that we can collaborate and we can have camaraderie in amongst each other. This is the first year it is happening and I am really excited to see what it is going to look like for our profession.
It is really about us deciding as the subset of the profession and that we no longer want to be invisible. We cannot do it on our own. We want to come together. We want to celebrate big. The thing is going to end with a parade down the Bourbon Street. It is going to be something really special. It is scaled so if only 150 people will come, it is going to be spectacular. If 550 or 600 come then it is going to be spectacular.
I am really excited to see what happens at the end of February next year and I am so happy that you are involved Bill that you are going to be there.
Dr Davis: Absolutely.
February 26th to 28th the Upper Cervical Experience in New Orleans. It is going to be awesome. If you have not registered yet, do it. It is something that people are going to be talking about for the whole year.
Also I know that I will be checking out the Upper Cervical Experience website. As Dr Scholten mentioned, every day in December another presenter is going to be released. That is exciting to see all the doctors that are going to speak on there.
I am excited about that and I am really happy that I talked to you today Jeff. As usual you have a ton of stuff going on and I am glad to know you and glad to have you as an Upper Cervical Leader. I appreciate everything that you do.
Dr Scholten: Thanks Bill.
I really appreciate the opportunity to do it honestly. We are just so blessed to be able to have this option for ourselves and our family in terms of Upper Cervical Care and to be able to deliver that to people is such a gift clinically. It is my pleasure to give back and help things move forward. I encourage everybody else to do that.
If everybody just does a little bit, it is amazing how far a small group of people doing just that little bit of extra, just a little giving back it is going to make over the course of the next few decades.
Dr Davis: Absolutely.
The rumour is there are about 3,000 Upper Cervical doctors out there. Wouldn’t it be great if we had all of them at something like the upper cervical experience and all of them involved in the types of things that are going on within Upper Cervical.
Dr Scholten: That is what we are looking for. That will just blow it up Bill. We need this place where we can come together in a non-denominational way and learn together about this area of the spine that is so crucial to human health and the experience that it is going to be that for us hopefully for next year of course but hopefully far into the future.
Dr Davis: Absolutely.
Thank you Dr. Jeff.
Make sure you register for The Upper Cervical Experience in New Orleans