Saved by Upper Cervical
Dr. Bill Davis: Dr. Hall, great to talk to you today. You ready to get started?
Dr. Drew Hall: I sure am Dr. Davis. Thanks for having me on.
Bill: Dr. Hall, I like to always know what brought you to chiropractic as a career?
Drew: Well, as I tell all of my new patients in consultation, I had my life’s passion or mission made up pretty easily for myself. When I was seventeen, I got dropped upside down on my head wrestling after baseball practice in a hole from about two and a half feet off the pitcher’s mound.
When I landed I heard a big shshsh in the base of my skull and of course at that time I knew nothing about chiropractic so I didn’t know exactly what that meant. But I did know when I got dropped it wasn’t a good thing.
Drew: In fact, it was one of those types of injuries when it actually happened what flashed through my mind was oh my God I hope I’m not paralyzed. And so I rolled over and stood up and thanked God I wasn’t paralyzed and I didn’t have any pain. And being male and a teenager obviously that wasn’t the only stupid thing I’ve done to that point.
Because it didn’t hurt and because I wasn’t paralyzed, I figured oh well that was just another little trauma. I went to the rest of the day and woke up the next morning and it was pretty much in the rear view mirror.
So fast forward, six months and this kind of happened slowly so I never put two and two together. Because as I always tell patients, we in this country aren’t exactly taught that our spine has anything to do with our health, right.
But I got to a point within six months I had a chronic headache. For the next two years, I had insomnia. Every night it took three or four hours to fall asleep and then when I did fall asleep I maybe slept an hour and then woke up and then slept another hour and woke up.
For anyone who has gone two years and never gotten a good night sleep then all the other problems ensued like foggy headedness and I had no energy. Basically I was dragging myself through life.
I was nauseated every day for two years. I never threw up but I felt I was going to. And a whole host of other problems I won’t bore you with. But I basically got to a point two years later and through this whole time, again because it was episodic in the beginning and then it got worse overtime, I kept telling myself it will eventually go away.
So I never told anyone and I found myself two, two and a half years later walking home from school one day with a thought if I get to live like this for two more years I’d probably kill myself. And that was the big uhuh. And so, to make another long story short I told my parents and we did what most Americans would do.
My parents spent close to $20,000 going to the family doctor, internist, neurologist, infectious disease specialist, MRI, CAT scan and all these tests. And everything basically showed up negative and I was told there was nothing wrong with me and it was all in my head. Go see a psychiatrist and that was the point at which I said the hell with you people.
Bill: Yes, wow.
Drew: So, thank God I ended up at an acupuncturist who then sent me to homeopath. And the homeopath happened to be a patient of Dr. Tom Forest in the San Francisco Bay Area. For those of you who know anything about homeopathy, they take a pretty extensive history on you because that’s how they determine what remedy to give you.
She uncovered the head dropping incident. And then that coupled with headaches and her own knowledge of the upper cervical work, at the end of everything she said, “Drew I think I could probably help you but I think you’ll be better served by seeing this man.” And she gave me Dr. Tom Forest’s business card.
I made an appointment right when I got home and drove 40 minutes down to his office. He explained everything to me. I remember sitting in the consultation thinking okay I’ve been to four medical specialists and in the first two minutes of him explaining upper cervical, that totally makes sense.
And I had hope and he delivered on the hope that I have. Shot some pictures on me, corrected my atlas and completely turned my life around.
Building a Successful Upper Cervical Practice With Passion
Bill: Wow, that’s awesome. What an amazing story. So it was an absolutely miracle story for you personally that started it all. Then from there you just went to chiropractic school I assume and focused on upper cervical all the way through?
Drew: Yes, I was I suppose I was lucky in one sense when I went into school. In fact, the funny part is I didn’t really know much of anything else other than upper cervical so when I got to chiropractic school and started talking to people and they were explaining how they were adjusted, I was just like what?
A chiropractor to me was upper cervical work. Then at my first day in school I walked in this room that was like next to the one that we had our class in every day. There’s one of my buddies face down on the table. They’re going to try once to manipulate his neck and some guys has one hand on the shoulder and another on the head and he goes Shshsh. I’m like whoa, what’s that?
Bill: Yeah that’s an eye opener, right? When you realized that upper cervical is not all of chiropractic and so. So you had to wade through all that through school and keeping your focus on upper cervical. Then eventually you make your way out of school and started practice in the LA area, right?
Drew: Yes. So, I went to Cleveland which actually isn’t Cleveland anymore. They went out of business. But yes, when I showed up there I was like being in a fish out of water because no one even knew what upper cervical was. So of course we had to start a club and stir it up a little bit and that was fun.
So I graduate 2001 and then went into private practice in Huntington Beach with Dr. Kuhn. I practiced with him for I think it was about four years. While I was in practice with him, I kind of got dragged up into Koreatown. That’s a whole another half hour story.
And so we started the practice up in Koreatown and then somewhere about four years after being out of school I started another office 25 minutes North in Carson. So I’ve been in those two practices for ten and fourteen years between the two of them.
Bill: I know you’ve trained a lot of associates over the years and have done a lot of things to help grow your practice. Can you talk about that and how the practice has grown and training your associates, those types of things?
Drew: I warn all associates if they start in my office that even though we run a big practice, it wasn’t run on a pure business principle. It was run on pure passion.
So when I graduate from school, I was one of those guys who weren’t afraid even on the least to go out. Basically we set up screening spots. I didn’t care what store it was. We set up screening spots in front of the stores and talked to people and dragged them in there. It’s pretty much how we built the whole practice.
But yes, I don’t know the number of about 10 to 15 associates who started in my office who are in different areas of the country now. In fact, I was just talking to one of my new associates about how our goal as upper cervical doctors should not only be just to help the people that we have in our practices but to get younger students interested in upper cervical work in our office. Get them excited and teach them the techniques so they can go out and spread the message on their own. But as you know there are not enough of us.
Bill: Absolutely not and so you mentioned the word passion. I know a little bit about you. I know that that’s an important part of who you are and that you are very passionate about the work. What are some of the best ways that you found to translate that passion to your patients? How do you communicate that passion to them?
Drew: Well I remember about ten years ago, people kept asking me, “Drew how did you build that practice so quickly?” I didn’t really have a good answer for it. And then I started thinking and really the way that I build the practice was by my story.
When you’ve been to the point where you want to kill yourself and someone taps your atlas back in position. You go from wanting to kill yourself to feeling better than you have in 20 years. It’s not very hard to translate that passion. But so the second fold of that is what I found and I can do this on purpose.
I just get excited and I think all of us do when we have someone come in that does better. Naturally, when someone comes in my office and tells me the last time you adjusted me I’ve been insomniac for 20 years and I’ve been on Prozac and my hearing in my left ear came back. I would naturally get so excited about that story but then I would tell every single patient that was in my practice what I heard that day as well.
It’s one thing I would say to the young docs in practice is when you get in practice and you get these really good results, you should get excited about it. You should share them with your patient base. You know from being in practice, how many times did someone come in who had clinical depression that got cleared out and you tell the patient afterwards who came in with a little back pain and they’re like, “Oh really, you mean adjusting the atlas can help with depression?”
Because we forget that what they come in with his what they are focused on. Even though we’ve educated them, they don’t see past that symptom for the most part unless it’s a rare patient that gets it.
Bill: That’s great. So frequently when you’re in practice I think that you almost start taking it for granted. You see so many amazing things, so many miracles, so many incredible changes in health that you can start taking that for granted.
What I’m hearing from you is to not take that for granted. Really celebrate those results every day and that will help you to keep that passion going for you, your team and your patients.
Drew: Yes. And this might sound sort of funny but when I was young in practice I used to tell my dad almost every night on the way home and I’d sit there and give him a play by play of each day in practice. He would always say, “If I was a little younger I would go back to chiropractic school and become an upper cervical chiropractor.”
Because how many of our patients come in and you’re telling them how great everything is and they say my work sucks. I really hate what I do. I sit there and go man I couldn’t imagine working 40 or 50 hours a week and hate what I’m doing. I think we’re lucky with what we do. As one of my mentors said, “I don’t go to work. I go to play.”
Bringing Passion to Your Upper Cervical Marketing
Bill: Right. Shifting gears towards marketing. What are some of the things that you’ve done? You mentioned screenings but what else have you done to grow your practice.
Drew: Well, I’ve been in practice for almost 15 years. So when I first started, we actually set up a kiosk in a mall. Actually it’s a buddy of mine’s idea. And then I piggy banked on top. That worked great.
So my first year or two was a 90% screening. We did some talks. I found local libraries who’d let you come in and give a talk for free. If you’d buddy up with the librarian, I think that’s easier when you’re 26 like I was and totally wet behind my ears. People just want to help you right?
But they will even sometimes market for us. But what we found and obviously is the niche that you’re in now. Where I would have been 22 years ago when I was sick would have been on the internet but the internet didn’t exist. So I see a huge shift happening now.
I think the internet is levelling the playing field from the standpoint that when the person goes in and gets told it’s only in your head or just because you’re all stressed out. Here take this drug for the rest of your life. The people who have some spirit left in them say screw you and they get on Google and they start researching for answers.
I don’t think there’s one avenue. I think there should be several avenues in the practice and so we are starting to use the blog, SEO stuff. I used to do a lot of dinner talks.
You have to have several strands in your office. I used to do a lot of meet and greets where basically go to a business and knock on their door, introduce yourself. I had a little pitch line. I remember what it was.
It was something like, hi “I’m Dr. Hall. We run the Upper Cervical Healthcare Office around the corner and we’ve just been out to the public to make you aware that we exist. Here is some info about upper cervical care.”
Then invariably what the people would say was oh what’s upper cervical. And so instead of sitting out in front of a grocery store and waiting for that person to come over and talk to you, going business to business is a good way to engage a lot of people in a short time. And most of them are willing to talk to you.
And we found that 1 out of 25 knocks on the door led to an appointment right there and then. We had another strategy where the people that we’re interested we’d sent out a mailer to them and that worked.
So I’m a big fan of getting your boots out on the street and doing grassroots marketing because I think being able or being forced to go out and communicate the message and do things that for most people aren’t very comfortable. It’s not comfortable to go out and talk to people you don’t know and bang on their door. But I think it builds character and I think it’s essential.
I think most of the people out there that have practices, they need to break through fear boundaries. I think that’s one way of building a lot of character.
Bill: Yes because you got to be able to learn to communicate, right? And there’s no better way to learn that than when you just walked in their door or you knocked on their door or whatever it may be. There is a lot of benefits to doing that type of thing.
Drew: You know the funny thing that one thing I didn’t touch on, I think we all even in my office you have solicitors that come in. You’re first thing when you see someone comes to the door that you don’t know was oh no, not another one of these people. You want to turn around and walk the other way right?
But the amazing thing is the way that I’d introduce myself is I’m Dr. Hall. As soon as you say that doctor word it’s ingrained in our society. People do this 180. Oh hi doctor.
Blair Chiropractic Society
Bill: Yeah, absolutely. So, bringing your passion to the streets and keeping it in the office and I know another one of your big passions is the Blair work. You do the Blair upper cervical work. Talk about the Blair Chiropractic Society and what you’re doing through there and some ways that people and students or doctors who may be reading this can get involved with Blair.
Drew: So I was kind of thrown into the position I’m in six years ago. I’m not so sure when they threw me in is whether maybe I deserved to be but somehow I found myself there. So how would I describe Blair, where we sit, where we’re going, where we came from?
All upper cervical organizations had that spirited leader that spearheaded the organization. Then of course as the generations go by there’s other people who have to pick up the ball and run with it right.
So Dr. Muncy he’s the one who took the Blair teachings from Dr. Blair. If it wasn’t for him it wouldn’t have kept going. He taught seminars and got a good core group going and then Dr. Forest came on board as our lead instructor.
And he built our membership and we had other people to help like Dr. Herbert back at Palmer and some other instructors but we went from having 20 people in the early 80’s to 100 people where we sit today. But we got to that point not by having much organizational structure just by really strong willed people who have the passion and saw a necessity for keeping the work going.
So the society is going through a pretty big transition right now and that we’ve hired an executive assistant who runs everything and that’s just been huge. Because as you know when you’re running a practice and you’ve got a family and then you stood on a board for a non-profit, there’s not much time left over to actually accomplish the things that maybe you want to accomplish.
So we’ve always had lots of good ideas but until now they have came out flat because we didn’t have the manpower. Then Dr. Lenarz, for those of you who him has a lot of know-how as far as organizational structure is concerned. So he’s come on the board.
Anyway what I’m trying to say is we’re going through a transition to an organization with some structure and an employee on board. We got big plans for the future so we’re excited about that.
Bill: Excellent. And you have several programs throughout the year. Can you talk about those?
Drew: Yes, so we put on annual seminar every year. This year it will be in Vegas. So we go to Vegas every other year. That is October 1st, I believe. You can find out if you go towww.blairchiropractic.com. We have all of our annual seminars. You can register on there.
And then of course we have technique seminars that are taught by our certified instructors throughout the country. That’s all on the website. And then we also have for new students, membership to be part of our society is free as long as you’re a member and on the back end of our site.
We’re continually adding all sorts of videos as far as technique is concerned. Also we’re in the process of adding in videos of some of the things I talked about earlier so as how to do a dinner talk. How to get a screening? What should you actually say at a screening and then what are some of the keys to making an appointment and actually getting them to show up.
We aren’t there yet but we’re loading x-rays on there there’s about 300 Q&As on there. Dr. Forest over the years would always be peppered with questions from students and field doctors. So that’s all logged on there.
There’s a lot of good information so for those of you who are students and for our annual seminar for students is we give free rooms.
Drew: Actually one other thing I can talk about as far as the society is concerned. We have Dr. Todd Hubbard and his wife actually Janice Hubbard who both have their masters in research. Both of them actually work at Palmer. So we’re tying up the research done this year.
We actually just sent preliminary funding to scoliosis research at McGill University up in Canada. For those of you who don’t know McGill, it’s pretty prestigious institution in Canada and they’re going to start on a scoliosis trial up in Canada.
Drew: So we’re excited about that. That’s ten cases preliminary and then assumingly from the rest there will be about a three year study. So it was the first one and in research we’ve got our eye set on doing a couple of RCTs over the next five years and got a case series on Meniere’s. It’s being published here soon. And then the thoughts to go after an RCT on Meniere’s here shortly.
Of course it’s always as I’m learning in order to get NIH funding or any government grants you need some literature out there already. Otherwise, you can’t go to them asking for $1 million for a clinical trial where there’s no preliminary data out there saying that what you can do is effective.
Bill: Right, exactly.
Drew: We’re laying the ground work to do a lot of things of that nature.
The Professional Upper Cervical Athlete
Bill: Very cool. All right doc. I really appreciate your time today. And before we go is there anything else that you’d like to say to the doctors and students out there that will be reading this?
Drew: The biggest thing I can say is there is a 260 million people in this country. We got 6 billion people in the planet and we have approximately 1500 upper cervical doctors. So, we need a lot more of you and we need a lot more of you to be really, really good at what you do. So hone your skills. I always say professional athletes practice every day, some of them for hours upon hours.
And if you’re going to be a good upper cervical doctor you got to be dedicated to it and you got to practice like you’re a professional athlete because you are. The work that we do is about 100 times more important than any professional athlete on the face of this planet. So be as good as you can at what you do and just go for it.