Helping patients stay pain-free through an integrated approach – By Dr. Mikhail Burdman

There’s no denying we’re in the middle of a major opioid crisis today. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) estimates more than 115 Americans die every day from opioid overdose.

For the most part, we can trace this issue back to the late 1990s, when physicians first started prescribing these pain medications. Unfortunately, most did not realize their addictive properties at that time.

And throughout the years, many physicians became increasingly reliant on pain medications as a go-to tool to quickly get patients out of pain and increase the number of patients leaving their offices [at least temporarily] satisfied.

We now know that prescribing opioids often does more harm than good. Patients can become hyper-sensitive to pain and in the long run, require more drugs to be pain-free. Further, pain medication is often a short-term solution leading to a long-term issue.

We know that chiropractic can help many of those suffering from chronic pain, but frankly, it’s not as simple as saying that’s the solution to the opioid crisis.

What about the patients who are already addicted to prescription medications?

When I graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic West in 2012, I wasn’t sure where my path in practice would lead. But after returning home to Baltimore and working with other practitioners in the area, I saw a large need for a clinic that offered a safer path to pain management.

Patients shouldn’t have to choose sides between medical pain management and chiropractic – there are a number of patients interested in both, especially those who are already on pain medication. They need a clinic that helps them transition off high-dose medications and incorporates alternative therapies, like chiropractic and physical therapy, to help them begin to rebuild their strength and range of motion, and decrease aggravating factors.

Patients also deserve a clinic where all of this is done in one place, both for the convenience of making it to their appointments, but also, and more importantly, a place where their practitioners were all truly on the same team.

After realizing there was such a need for this unique, more integrated approach, I set out on building my practice, The Pain Doctors. We’re an interventional pain management clinic made up of medical doctors, chiropractors and physical therapists working together to get patients out of pain quickly, effectively, and most importantly, safely. We use the latest technology and medical advancements to provide patients with the best services to treat their pain.

Dr. Burdman in front of X-ray machine.

Dr. Burdman at his practice, The Pain Doctors, in Baltimore, Md.

It’s now been two years since we’ve opened our doors and we’re proud to say that we’ve been able to help an incredible number of patients in Baltimore become less dependent on their pain medications – something many of them didn’t think possible after consistent use for years!

It is my hope that more practitioners see the need for this integrated model in their own neighborhoods and we can all work together to help patients work to lead pain-free and drug-free lives in a safe manner.

If you’re interested in learning more about interventional pain management practices like mine, whether you’re a current student or have already graduated, I’d be happy to talk with you more about my journey and plans for the future. Feel free to contact me through my website at www.thepaindrs.com.

About Dr. Burdman: Mikhail Burdman, D.C., is the director of The Pain Doctors of Baltimore, Md. He works closely with his team of medical doctors, mental health counselors and therapists to provide patients with safe and effective treatment plans to reduce their pain and medical dependency.

Prior to his chiropractic career, Dr. Burdman was born in Moldova and came to the United States as a refugee in 1991. He graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a degree in biology. He completed an internship at the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, Calif., and went on to graduate from Palmer College of Chiropractic West in 2012. He currently resides in Baltimore, M.D., with his wife and enjoys staying active and spending time with his family and friends.

Calling the Shots on Your Contract – by Dr. Jen Faber

Dr. Jen Faber

Dr. Jen Faber

When new chiropractors kick-start their career by working in a practice, they’re eager, hungry and ready to learn from a mentor who knows the ropes. On the surface, this path can offer training on the job and get you prepared to build your own practice someday. But just because you want someone to “take you under their wing,” doesn’t mean you should feel like you have no say in what you get in return.

Yet it oftentimes does.

Why? Because it’s easy to go into defeating thoughts that take away any chance you have to negotiate. Ask yourself, if you’re an associate or want to be, have any of these thoughts run through your mind:

“What say do I have?”

“I have no idea how to negotiate.”

“I have no experience, so I’ll just take the best offer I can find.”

“All I want is a job that’ll pay the bills, and I’ll figure out the rest later.”

This is a confidence gut check. It’s an opportunity to reframe your mind on how you go into a job offer and give yourself the personal power on negotiating and knowing how to do it.

Let’s set the stage here. Our profession gets a bad rap on “eating its young” when it comes to associateships. Sadly, that’s because chiropractors feel overworked, underpaid and taken advantage of by the practice. But that end result doesn’t come fully from the boss. The employee (a.k.a. the associate) also needs to set standards before day one so you go into that job with a contract that works for you …

And not one that was just created for anyone who will sign it.

Having come out of a job that nearly drove me to leave the profession all together, I know that feeling all too well. In hindsight, had I known even one tip on how to negotiate, I would have put myself in a level playing field and perhaps even the wisdom to walk away from that job before getting hired and find something better.

So I want to share with you the tools that I would’ve told my younger self back when I graduated. Negotiating is all about the approach and implementing key strategies to create a contract that actually works in your favor.

Step 1: Go Shopping

Typically the first question that runs through your mind is, “How do I even know what to ask for?” And if you’re right out of school, it’s hard to know the baseline for what’s a standard contract. So the first step here is to do your research. Go on chiropractic job boards and read the offers. Identify what the opportunities are in your location or comparable areas if you don’t know where you want to practice yet. Look at the incentives and compensation to determine what works for you and what doesn’t. Create a list of what you’ve see in offers that appeals to you so you can bring that knowledge to the table on interview day.

Step 2: Know Your Conditions

After you’ve done your market research, you’ll want to create your own job offer. Design an ideal contract that matches what you want. This is a concept known as ‘conditions of satisfaction,’ which is all about developing standards for yourself.

And this is vital because chiropractors typically go into a job offer with no preparation or strong identity on what that ideal offer looks like. You don’t want to go into this process blind, because it will make you feel like you have no say in the game, and you will come across that way when a contract is presented to you.

So think about the standards you want to create for your job contract. This relates to three key areas: compensation, benefits and vacation. For compensation, know what the standard of living is in your area and what you need to make to match it. Also think about the structure. Do you want bonuses or incentives as you grow your patient base? What benefits do you want to receive in addition to your income? How much time off do you want to have? More importantly, how much time off do you want to give your work-life balance?

What exactly will cause you to be satisfied with your job offer? Be honest and specific. And then know those conditions before the interview, during the interview and especially when you negotiate the offer.

Step 3: Don’t Accept the First Offer

Any job offer that you get will be in the practice owner’s favor. It’s not necessarily because an employer is trying to take advantage of you. It’s because that employer is looking to bring a doctor into their practice and ultimately wants a new hire to be a good fit for them. This is no different than listing a house for a higher price, because the status quo is that the price will get negotiated down. That’s just smart business sense.

So don’t accept the first offer thinking that the employer won’t budge or that you have no voice in the matter. This is how any business contract works. There’s an offer. Then a counter offer. Then an agreement.

Use the conditions you’ve set to let the employer know what you want and what will make the job and offer a good fit for you. State what you need in order to move forward so both of you can have a dialogue and come to a mutual agreement. This sets such a stronger dynamic then just signing on the dotted line and hoping for the best.

The big takeaway here is this:

Don’t be willing to just take any offer just to get the job now, because you could spend years stuck in a contract that ultimately stunts your future growth. And you are worth way more than to just settle for some job when you’ve spent time, money, effort, and passion to become a chiropractor. So know that not only can you negotiate, but you should. And when you do, you’ll be able to see red flags, figure out the best fit and attract a job that matches what you want.

Jen Faber, D.C.
’06 Davenport campus graduate

After breaking away from burnout and frustration early in her career, Jen Faber, D.C., is now on a mission to coach freedom-seeking chiropractors on how build a practice they love through her individual coaching and online training programs. She is the creator of the House Call Practice Program and the Unleashed Coaching Program to empower chiropractors with the guidance, tools, and strategies to build a successful practice. Visit her online at www.drjenfaber.com.