The Chronicles of Sharen- Part 4

Part 4 – Mean what you say

I have noticed a few things about Sharen since I have started working here. Last time I wrote about her talking down about all the former employees. She still does that! It makes me uncomfortable, but she is my boss, so what can I do.

Part of my responsibilities include writing for the company blog, as well as keeping up our social medial pages. Lately, Sharen also decided that she wanted to redo the entire website. That meant that she wanted me to go through and re-write all the informational pages about the services we offer. Keep in mind I am a chiropractor, not a writer or media expert. But I figured, since I recently started working here and am not fully busy yet, it helps keep my extra time occupied.

So I started, I went though all the pages and wrote them as she asked, it took me the course of a week or two to get everything done. And I was pretty proud of what I had accomplished. I presented the new pages to Sharen, full of excitement, but that excitement soon faded. “We are now going to go in a different direction,” said Sharen. “Huh?” I thought. I just spent two weeks working on this thing like she asked me to, and all for what? For her to suddenly change her mind. I didn’t understand, and I didn’t question her.

Turns out she ended up using most of the original content over again. And wrote some of the parts herself. Why put me through wasting all that time then?

In the past few months I have come to realize that I somehow can’t really relate to Sharen or understand her thought processes, like I normally can with people that I spend a lot of time with. She does things and I have no idea why she would do or say them, or goes back on what she said before after all the work is already done. I just keep saying to myself that she is an expert, and she has more experience than me, so I need to keep my mouth shut and do what she says. What I wish I could say to her is, figure out what you want first, then ask me to do the task to complete it, instead of wasting my time on meaningless tasks.

The number one way to be a better doctor.

When I was 16, I went to the doctor after sustaining a knee injury during a summer basketball game. As soon as it happened, I knew something was not right. My parents took me to the emergency room,  and I told them exactly what happened, “I was running down the court, then I planted my foot, and suddenly I heard a pop, like opening a soda can. After that I had the feeling that my kneecap moved out of place, and my leg feels like it will bend backwards.”

I think they took an x-ray and did a few tests, put me in an immobilization brace, and sent me back home. That was it. No diagnosis, no recommendation for future care. I didn’t know it at the time, but I told them exactly what was wrong with me in that sentence above. And nobody heard it. I had torn my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and after a summer of knowing things weren’t right, I pushed my parents, and they pushed the doctors for an MRI, which should have been done in the first place, and I finally had my diagnosis. The doctors who failed to diagnose me properly, forgot to do that one important thing…

Listen.

The number one thing, in my opinion, that we can all do to be better doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and any health related practitioner, is to truly listen to the patient. It is true what they said in school, that somewhere around 85% of the time, the patients will tell you exactly what the condition is they have and/or where the problem is coming from. Which makes our jobs a lot easier. It is also important for the practitioner to guide the patients to get out the most important information, and so that your 20 minute consultation doesn’t become an hour long.

Not only does diagnosing the patient become easier, the patient feels happier because someone actually listened to them, and the treatment becomes clearer. For those of you who think you already are a good listener, I challenge you to re-evaluate, and count the number of times you cut off one of your patients mid speech. I am definitely guilty of that. Point being, we can all be better.

Take time to hear people’s stories, really listen to what they describe without any judgement. Those extra 2 minutes might save you from missing something important, and they definitely will help you become a better practitioner.

The Chronicles of Sharen- Part 51

Part 51- All alone in a big fancy building

We moved our clinic last week. Apparently it has been Sharen’s “career-long dream”, to own the building that her practice is in.

I didn’t have much to do with the move or decoration of the place as I was holding down the clinic and making sure the patients were treated well.

Shocked, is an understatement, for the feeling I had when I first saw the place. Firstly, I take the bus everyday, and had to get off at a new stop because of the move. So when I knew we were getting close, I went and stood by the driver, scanning the area for a sign of the clinic. Then I saw it, it hit me like a big smack in the face, a giant billboard of an advertisement on the side of the building. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud, literally. Only Sharen, the narcissist, would put her name up in huge neon letters on the side of a building. No one could miss this place.

Secondly, as I walked in the clinic, it was like being in a fancy restaurant, or a very posh home, not exactly what people picture for a “sports clinic”. It was beautiful nonetheless. And it was big, two stories, three treatment rooms, kitchen, and own parking.

Sharen’s room was downstairs, next to the reception area, with the fancy table and equipment. Guess where she decided to put my room? Upstairs, in the back next to the restrooms, with the portable table. Again, the only thing I could do is laugh. This is so typical Sharen. She only works 2-3 days per week, if she is in town, I on the other hand am there 5 days a week. She gets the fancy table for working so little, while I, who see the most patients, get pushed to the very back of the house with the worst equipment. Can you see now why I had to laugh? Its either laugh or cry.

Not only was I put to the last corner of the building, but I was the only one there! Sharen travels a lot. So weeks would go by, with me being the only one there. Many of my patients didn’t even know she existed because she was NEVER there. All alone in a big fancy building, paying for the place with my hard work, and all I got was a room next to the toilet.

For an outsider it may not seem like a big deal, but I realized the deeper statement behind it. No matter what, I wouldn’t be as good as Sharen, I would never be important enough to her to have a better room, or a better table. I could work as hard as I could, and it would still go unrecognized. In Sharen’s mind, no one can ever be as good as she is.

The Chronicles of Sharen- Part 53

Part 53- When being yourself is not enough

This was a strange week with Sharen. Things are getting more and more crazy, I decided that I needed to write this stuff down or else no one would believe me that they are actually happening.

The new employee, “A”, has been here for only a few weeks. And I can already see signs of trouble brewing. After over two years here, I am becoming better at picking up on Sharen’s subtle warning signs.

She has had numerous closed door meetings with A already, and she has him out doing errands for her, instead of helping him focus on becoming a better practitioner. But the strangest thing that happened was that Sharen told A that he needed to change his personality around the patients, but also said that he was “too pale, and should go get a fake tan”.

I have to ask… what would you do if your boss told you to leave immediately and go get a spray tan because you are too pale??

After she said this, A left the clinic to do just that. Sharen came to my room and told me the situation.  It’s very hard to disagree with Sharen though, because of her intimidating personality. And if you do disagree with her, you will be on her bad side for all of eternity. It is also hard to disagree with her, because she talks so much. She asks a question, then doesn’t wait for you to answer, she answers it herself. I have no idea why she feels the need to tell me or our secretary these things. It’s almost like she is trying to justify her actions, she needs this justification for some reason. But what I find really interesting is that in a lot of cases, she doesn’t wait to hear our response about her actions, it is more as if she is having a one sided conversation with herself.

She said, “geeze this guy, he is so weird, I told him that he needs to change his personality and be more funny in front of patients. He is so pale too, I told him that if he wants to get along better with patients, then he needs to look healthier, he needs to get a tan. He is pale isn’t he? “. Granted, the guy was a little pale, but very healthy and in good shape.

Honestly, I was shocked that she actually said this to him. I think professional growth is important, but when someone criticizes your character, that hurts. No one should  feel pressured  to change who they are or what they look like, simply because another person wants them too. I am curious to see how things will turn out with A, will he be able to survive Sharen?

6 Tips for surviving after chiropractic school

Not everyone makes it after chiropractic school. It can be tough being in the “real world”. And chiropractors are known for eating their young. Here are my top 6 tips on things to do to help you not just survive but thrive after graduation.

1. take some time off–  chiropractic school is stressful. One of the best pieces of advice that I received from a recently graduated student was to take a few months off. Use the time to unwind, plan, exercise, or whatever. Take some time for yourself before jumping in to work. The work we do is physically and emotionally demanding, so enjoying a few months to yourself can help prevent burnout.

2. be confident in your education- I felt completely unprepared on my first day of work. I thought I had no idea what I was doing. In reality, we are well prepared for working outside of the school clinic setting. As long as you went to class and payed attention you will be fine!

3. find a mentor- find someone that you can shadow or associate with that is successful in practice. Being successful in practice takes a lot more than being a capable adjuster. That is only one part of it. Find someone you want to be like in the next 20 years and learn as much as you can from them. See how they interact with people and how they manage difficult patients.

4. be a smart associate- this one is very important. It is easy to get taken advantage of coming out of school. Be very careful before signing any contracts. Ask other associates that work or worked there what their experiences were like. If they were negative, might be wise to think again about working there. Having a lawyer look over the contract is also one of the smartest pieces of advice that I received before graduating. It is easy for people to say nice things, but unless it’s written down, it means nothing.

5. never stop learning- thankfully we have standards of continuing education so we must continue to keep learning things. Never forget the joy of learning something new. Keep up with latest health news/trends. It’s amazing some of the questions patients will ask you, so being informed is important. And when you are striving to be the best practitioner that you can,  patients will pick up on that.

6. be honest with your patients- be honest in what you say to them, and who you are. Patients will stay with you if you are authentic in your personality and are honest with them. Don’t try to be someone else or fudge the truth because you think it will make you or the patient uncomfortable.

 

There are many other things that can help, but I found these things the most important for helping me thrive in the first years of practice. I hope these help you as well as you navigate life after graduation!

 

The Chronicles of Sharen- Part 3

Part 3- Early signs of trouble

 

Have you ever had that feeling, where you know something is off, but you choose to ignore it? My guess is that we all have had to deal with something like that at one time or another. I had that this week with Sharen. Let me explain.

Generally things are going well. I am happy to finally be working and into a steady routine and I am slowly building up my patient base. That side of things is fine. But this week Sharen said some things to me that made me uncomfortable.

Sharen had 2 other associates before me, and both of them left within 2 years of working for her. Otherwise I didn’t know anything about these two guys that worked there. She took the liberty of telling me about them recently.

The first associate was apparently very good, but Sharen had major issues with him. According to her, one, he wouldn’t listen to her, and that’s why he didn’t get as many patients as she would have liked. Two, because he left to pursue another degree, and she didn’t think that was worth his time, and she didn’t think it was a real reason for him to leave the company.  Three, she also was very upset because he didn’t keep up with the certification that she wanted him to have. A certification that must be renewed every year and costs a significant amount of money to do. And finally four, he apparently used some testimonials from patients at the clinic, in his new practice. She was the most upset over that last point.

So upset that she decided to sue that employee for using those testimonials. Yes, sue. She is telling me all these things, and starts to get more and more upset, calling the employee names, and saying why he will never really succeed in practice, and that she will sue him for all he has got. There were several meeting with lawyers during this time as well.

Now, for the second associate. Apparently he was a pathological liar, and she didn’t like that his eating habits were not as healthy as she would like. He also was sick too much and that didn’t help keep up the appearance of a healthy clinic when the employees were sick. “We can’t get sick in this business,” according to Sharen.

All this is being said to me, freshly new employee, straight out of school. Bad mouthing of not one but two former employee. At the time, I brushed it off, and didn’t think that much about it. But the more I have thought about it over the past weeks, it leaves me with this sick feeling in my stomach. One, because I think it is information that I don’t need to be involved in as an employee, and two, it makes me wonder what things Sharen might say about me when I leave.

Hey, but what do I know. Sharen is a successful chiropractor with her own business, and maybe this is the way things should be done. So who am I to question her? In the mean time, all I can do is continue to keep doing my job, and trying to help as many people as I can!

The Chronicles of Sharen- Part 54

Part 54- when the new employee becomes the fool

 

Sharen has her own opinions on things, like we all do. The difference between most of us and Sharen is that she is not open to other peoples opinions. Sharen is smart, but very out of touch, and she doesn’t see that what she says and what she actually does do not line up at all.

For example, Sharen says that one of her goals is to be a life long learner, so she reads a lot. But, if someone, comes up to her and says, Sharen the way we have been doing it doesn’t work, maybe we should try this way. She immediately goes into fight mode, criticizing the other suggestion and trying to validate why the way she does it is the best.

The funniest part about this is that sometimes what happens, is that a few weeks later, Sharen will come up to us, and say that she had a new idea about how to do something, the same idea that the person already suggested. But acting as if it was her own idea, not that someone already suggested it to her. This selective memory thing is crazy. Things can only change if it was her idea, since I figured that out, it has helped me in my communication with her. But it is still pretty entertaining to see first hand.

This happened to A, our new employee, when he tried to convince Sharen why one of the techniques that she uses was not as good as a newer version. His reasoning was sound and backed by research. Basically he was right. Instead Sharen told him that the technique was a crappy copy of what we already did, and that the person who made up that technique needed to give credit to the person who created her technique, because he stole the basic premise from him.

Let’s just say that A was not motivated to bounce ideas or even talk to Sharen for long after that.

I don’t know exactly how and why it happened, but A slowly became more of a punching bag for Sharen rather than a valued employee. She skipped the nice part, like she had with me, and went straight to ruthless.  This all started only a few weeks after A arrived.

Firstly, A is a fully qualified therapist, and brought in to treat patients, since I am leaving the clinic in 5 months. He was given all the new patients, that didn’t ask for me, which was fine. I think that Sharen must have had this vision in her head about what the situation would be like, A would come in and take the new patients, and be fully booked in no time, along with my busy schedule that equates to double the income. But what really happened is what normally happens, it takes people a while to build up their practice. And within 3 weeks that didn’t happen. A was frustrated, because honestly there weren’t that many new patients coming in other than patients for me, and Sharen was also frustrated.

A was found often sitting around the clinic reading or studying, or if there was no free room he would sit in the storage closet. There was my room, and Sharen’s room, but no space for him unless one of us wasn’t there. Picking up on this Sharen started asking him to do certain tasks to help market for the clinic. Giving talks, which is reasonable, meeting people at local areas, which is also reasonable, and delivering flyers about the clinic, which is questionable in my mind. Along with this he had picked up my work on blogging and social media. So here we have this new employee, who told me that he was hoping to be mentored by Sharen, who is now sitting along most of the time, handing out flyers, and becoming our media expert. Instead of being able to do what he loves doing.

It was a recipe for disaster.

Things slowly started blowing up. A and I became close during the following 4 weeks or so, I think I was his only source of companionship during those times. We talked about cases, practiced techniques, etc. More and more he was ignored by Sharen. I even remember one time in which A was standing next to a freshly painted wall when Sharen arrived. She snapped at him, “get away from that wall before you mark it”, A scuttled off to the storage closet. She has no respect for him, and slowly things are getting worse.

A told me that he was keeping his options open, looking for other positions closer to home. So we will see if he actually stays or if he ends up doing something else. It’s not an easy world to live in, the world of Sharen. But what she is doing now to A is some of the worst that I have seen from her.