We’ve Got Being an Osteopath All Wrong

90% of what makes a great osteopath has nothing to do with your hands-on skills. I touch on self-development, letting people go and what you should start doing if you're looking for a fulfilling career.

Podcast Episode Transcript

I’d like to start this episode by saying thank you.

I had more people listening than I thought and I even several emails about looking forward to future episodes.

So, thank you for your support so far. I really do appreciate it.

If you’d like to contact me, my email is in the description.

As I spoke about in episode one: this podcast is based on the fact that I believe that you should never open a clinic without fully understanding what it takes. So I’d like to expand on that a bit.

What do I mean by fully understanding what it takes?

As you know, I graduated in 2017 and I’ve been speaking with all kinds of osteopaths ever since through trying to figure out how to grow my own clinic as well as the work I do with Osteohustle.

I want to share this thought that I’ve had for years. And this is potentially controversial.

I believe we’ve got being an osteopath all wrong.

Let me explain.

During the last episode, I spoke to you about the lightbulb moment I had when I was drowning trying to figure out how to grow my new practice: to ask healthcare business owners, most of whom were osteopaths, what works and what doesn’t work, then to pair that with all of the lessons I’ve learned from the business and self-help world.

Just for future reference, I call these healthcare business owners the 300 because that’s roughly how many I spoke to in the first two years of my career before being nominated for the iO Practice of the Year and starting Osteohustle.

I’ve had hundreds of conversations about what it really takes to run a successful practice.

Regardless of the size of the practice, in terms of how many practitioners and staff work there, all of them said that it’s important to develop your hands-on skills, but the interesting thing is that I’d say that only 10% of the total time I spent speaking with these healthcare practitioners was about developing your hands-on skills.

The other 90% we spoke about I can summarise in one word. People.

Okay, so what do I mean by people. And there are a few things that come to mind, so I’ll try my best to break this down as logically as I can.

People means your communication skills. How do you listen to people? How do you speak to people? Are you accidentally speaking at people? What’s your body language saying? How well can you explain a diagnosis in a way that people really understand? What’s the tone of your voice like? Can you make conversation with people? What’s your small talk like?

This is going to sound so silly but, one of the things I pride myself on is being able to talk to anyone about almost anything. And as an osteopath, I wanted to be able to make small talk with a patient who’s a dog trainer in one session and then talk about philosophy and culture with my next patient. Why? Because being able to connect with people is one of the best ways to build a strong therapeutic alliance. That’s where real trust is built.

And that’s not just with patients. It’s with other people you bring into your business. It’s being able to have a chat with other local business owners to figure out how you can help each other.

The point is that your communication skills can always be developed.

Let’s talk about people in the context of yourself.

I’d like to tell you a story. When I think about the early days of starting my clinic at 23 years old, I always think about how many hours I spent consuming books from the world of business, marketing, self-help, time management, psychology – you name it, if it had any chance of helping me grow this practice, I read it, I listened to it.

And it never stopped. I was single, I’d just moved to Cardiff, so I barely had any friends, didn’t see my family – and honestly, because I want to be honest on this podcast, I didn’t care all that much because my sole focus was to get this practice off the ground.

Why am I telling you this. The reason why I’m telling you this is because whenever I learned something from any of these books, I could see it in how it relates to running a successful practice, having a successful career and the 300 were saying this too, they said that it’s critical for you to get a grip of what’s in between your ears, but it can only come from you.

When I say it can only come from you, I mean, these books always speak about being disciplined, having great time management skills, getting the best quality sleep you can, looking after yourself through any form of exercise and good food, building great habits, learning how to prioritise what’s important, learning how to be a leader for your associates, knowing that what you’re going through is an infinite process and so you need to learn to enjoy the process knowing that everything you want to achieve cannot be done in one day – it’s a process – everything is a process.

So, when I talk about people in the form of you, being a great osteopath is more than being a great osteopath – please understand that the career you want must be earned and you can only do that through continuously evolving yourself and making decisions that allow you to take one step closer to the career you actually want.

I think I’ll let that one sit for a while – I’d love to know if that resonates with you, so my email will be in the description.

The other side of people, and this is so important because it came up so often with the 300, but it’s hard to speak about, but again I want us to speak about the hard stuff, are the people who you surround yourself with.

They say that “you’re the average of the five people spend the most time with” but it goes way beyond that. There’s no doubt in my mind that you can be affected by people you’ve never met before.

Social media is proof of that, right?

The reason why I say it’s hard to speak about is because whether it be friends, family or someone on a social media forum, we all know someone who will always find a negative, they’re always complaining, they’re never supportive and they never come up with a practical, helpful or even empathetic solution.

They’re suppressive rather then progressive.

On the point of social media, I think we can all agree that osteopaths have a long way to go with getting along with each other and working together to help each other and to move our profession forward. Because the only way we can get out of the shadow of physios and chiropractors is to come together, learn together and help each other out, no matter how our ethics may clash because at the end of the day, we’re all osteopaths and we all love helping people. If we can figure out how we can create an unbreakable connection inside our profession, one of progression, support and open mindedness, we can absolutely help more people with osteopathy. And hopefully, if you’ve been following Osteohustle on social media, you can see that we’re trying to positively change that.

The point being that you should audit the people that surrounded you.

This includes your friends, family, social media connections, the people you work with.

For me, of course I have my close group of friends who have supported me endlessly and to this day. I go to them when I have an idea, or when I don’t know what to do about something.

Then there have been people I’ve chosen to remove from my life completely. For example, and I’m being totally transparent with you, I’ve unfriended and even blocked several people who I know have a totally different mindset to me. Will I help them if they email me asking for help? Absolutely. But as for what I see online on a daily basis, do I want to see what they’re doing and read what they’re saying – absolutely not.

Aside from that, of course I don’t want this to be about culling people from your life, so I want you to invite some great thinkers and innovators into your daily life in the form of books.

If you’re wondering where to start, you can’t go wrong with anything written by Tim Ferris, Ryan Holiday, Simon Sinek and Jim Collins. Even if it’s one book a month, grab a library card, watch book summaries on YouTube videos, download their audio book, do something that will allow you to start to challenge the way you think. Because what I’ve come to stand by more than anything is that there are people out there who have the answers your looking for – so go and find them.

Overall, when I say that I believe we’ve got being an osteopath all wrong, I hope you can see that it’s beyond clear that it takes so much more than your hands-on skills to have a great career.

On the back of this, I’m going to put together what I believe to be the best 10 books I believe every osteopath must read in order to make their dream career possible and make a podcast episode about the core principles and lessons and translate them into how you can apply them as an osteopath.

Thank you so much for listening and if you can, it would be great if you could leave a 5 star review. It tells me that you’re enjoying what I’m trying to do – so yeah – please email me with your insights, I’d love to hear them. I’m trying to figure out what length these episodes should be, as you can imagine I have a bullet pointed list of things I want to cover in each episode, I suppose it all depends on my ramblings. I’m thinking that the episode based on books will naturally be longer, but we’ll see.

Thank you and I’ll see you in the next episode. Tell your friends. Cheers.

Written by Alan Zaia M.Ost

Founder & CEO of Osteohustle. You’ll find Alan coaching osteopaths, travelling in a van or writing our weekly newsletter, The Hustle.

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