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Chiropractor: Mark J. Blessley, NTS., DC

Cathy Sivak, Contributing Writer

Information, Trends, and Advice

What are some of the trends that you see in the chiropractic and natural therapeutic field which could help students plan for the future?

The interconnectedness of the disciplines and the medical community is a trend. All of the disciplines are starting to talk to one another more flexibly. The Internet is bringing people together, and more information can be disseminated. Research is getting better and better. Staying in contact with other doctors and would be a way to promote yourself and as a means to keep the art alive.

Wellness is up and coming as a concept. It’s been around for a long time, but is being looked into more as prevention rather than cure, the old phrase an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A lot of research is pointing to problems that develop over time rather than problems that just show up that could be preventable, conditions like arthritis and diabetes potentially being caused by inflammatory conditions, food allergies, toxicities in the environment and other forces that are preventable. Preventative medicine is getting a big push; food as well as wellness care.

What is the impact of managed care in the chiropractic profession?

Insurance is going up and up and up in price, and to keep the price down, they are decreasing the types of providers that are able to be on the panels and lowering the amount of reimbursement. Something else that occurs is that the managed care companies will say “we cover chiropractic,” and they’ll even advertise that they cover 10 visits a year. But the reality is that they may only cover a certain amount of visits for a certain condition. That’s almost like they are practicing medicine without a license. Insurers are dictating the care people are getting. That’s wrong.

How available are internships and other hands-on learning experiences? Are there formal internships beyond in-school clinical experience?

Some schools allow or encourage, instead of the last quarter, they encourage a student to go out into the local community to work in a practice. We’ve had several interns work at our clinics, and it’s a good thing. Although, right after you get them trained, then they leave. It’s a good experience for the students; they get a real world experience. The colleges have protocols, but it’s a good idea to check out different protocols; there is more than one way to treat a patient.

How is the job market now in the chiropractic and natural therapeutic field? How do you think it will develop over the next five years?

As baby boomers reach their peak, and more and more people are getting older and living longer, I think it’s pretty positive for job outlets. There are opportunities in many areas; for instance, hospitals are starting to incorporate some chiropractic care in rehabilitation and elsewhere, adding chiropractors to the hospital staff.

What is the average salary/compensation package for a chiropractor? What can recent chiropractic school graduates expect as a salary range starting out? Once they get to the top of the profession?

It’s a rapidly accelerating amount you get paid. As an associate you get paid less than if you are in private practice. If you go into private practice out of school, you’re going to make less the first year or two. I know that the American Chiropractor Association says the average salary $80,000 to 100,000 after a couple of years of practice. Some will make more, some less; for a new doc, you have to figure its going to be less to start with. It all depends on your skill level. It’s probably good for a new person to make an agreement with their employer that as their patient numbers increase, that they would get appropriate levels of increased compensation. It’s also a good idea for a new employee to have a risk-free trial period, of say three to six months. and essentially say “lets try this out and see we work well together, and if not, let’s part agreeably.” Make sure philosophies are congruent and then go from there.

Is there anything else you can tell us about yourself, your career, or the profession that would be interesting or helpful to others aspiring to succeed in the fields of chiropractic or natural therapeutics care?

Chiropractic treatment is not just back cracking. What we mostly do is remove interference so the body can work more efficiently. Most people don’t realize that chiropractors have considerable training in nutrition and other aspects of holistic wellness.

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