Academy of Chiropractic’s

MD Relationship Program


 From the Desk of:

William J Owens Jr DC, DAAMLP

“The Process”

Now you have lunches set up.  What should you bring and what should you talk about? This is a VERY important question and bringing too little is bad and too much is even worse!  When the meeting is taking place, please always keep in mind that you want to put yourself in the position of expert and keep it causal.  An expert will ask questions, overcome objections and not verbally “vomit” all over the MD or staff.  The idea is to keep the conversation going until the MD opens up to you.  The truth is, many DCs have “assumptions” about what the MD does with referrals.  These may range from, “They only refer to PTs,” to “They have a chiropractor next door.”  The problem with these types of assumptions is that they distract you from the real issue.  That issue is,WHAT IS THE ONE CONCERN THAT THE MD HAS THAT IS IMPEDING HIM/HER FROM REFERRING TO YOU?”  Yes, that is YOU that is underlined.  When you go into the office for the lunch, you are going as YOU, [insert name here], doctor of chiropractic.  During the initial phase of the relationship, you are representing YOU, not chiropractic.  Representing chiropractic will come later in your relationship and is a critical part of the growth phase, but it starts with you. 

To find out what the MD is thinking is easy.  You have to keep him/her talking long enough for him/her to tell you!  In the last lunch that I had 3 days ago, our conversation started with the weather, which led to the MD telling me about going to visit his brother for a fishing trip, and then our discussing fishing in the Western New York area.  That went on to finding out that he was Canadian, my saying that I have friends that are DCs in Ontario, healthcare in the US and Canada, prescription drugs and abuse, and finally onto chronic pain.  We then started talking not only about treating pain, but also function. He was thumbing through my CV while we were talking.  He said his only concern was cervical manipulation in the elderly which I quickly addressed.  When we were done (about 25 minutes), he said, “Okay, great,” and looked over at his office manager (this practice has 4 primary MDs and 12 staff members) and said, “Please put Bill on the referral list, but make sure he is put on the medical referral side.”  See, the key tidbit that I discovered here is in the EMR systems. MDs have a referral list (just like everyone else), but the nugget is there are categories!  This group refers to specialists and then lets them refer to PTs.  They don’t pull from the rehab referral list.  Therefore, to be recognized as a specialist and to get referrals, I had to be put into the specialist side.  CRITICAL, CRITICAL, CRITICAL.  If I did not keep this MD talking, I would not have been able to demonstrate my clinical competence regarding elderly spines, osteophytes, vertebral artery and adjustment, nor would I have been able to be put on the medical provider referral list.   You get the idea.  This ONLY COMES WITH PRACTICE.  Don’t worry about anything; be yourself and just get out there. 

Back to the task at hand, what to bring and a brief description.  Just remember that you are not throwing these out to the MDs, but instead having them available to show during conversation IF NEEDED.  In the example of the MD lunch above, I had all these things with me, but only showed my CV and the “Natural History of Low Back Pain” article.  I just packed up the rest and saved it for the next presentation.  You don’t know what they will be interested in, so be prepared and leave any expectations at the door. 

Educational Binder:

This can be either an introduction or a reinforcement.  Most of the practices that I am meeting with or presenting to have already received a binder, so for me it is more about reinforcing the concept. That is how we get introduced to them in the first place.  The process is generally binder first, then lunch.

Bimonthly Flyer Example:

Have a printed example of one of the bi-monthly fliers to show them.  This is important when you are working as a group in your area.  Right now there are 2 other DCs in the program with me in my area.  The farthest distance between us is 50 minutes with a DC in between.  All our names are on the binders and the fliers.  This way, we each meet with the MD offices in our area, but are promoting each other.  Primary care doctors pull from a large area and even though their office may be 30 minutes away, they will have patients in your area.

Research Articles:

In the last consultation there was a list of the research articles to bring.  This is done more in group formats to keep them engaged and help you to avoid a lecture on TECHNIQUE which they don’t care about.  With these articles, you will highlight the areas listed in the last consultation and point them out during the presentation.  When you hand an MD research and review it with him/her, it elevates you to the next level.  You are now on the inside and are perceived as an educator. 


This is a MUST for all presentations and meetings.  This is how you show the MD that you have experience and you understand how to demonstrate it in a proper format.  This is the document that shows your professional history and is a way for the MD to “get to know you.”  There is a CV Builder at that can help guide you.  Part of the initial start up with the program is working with me to get yours in the proper format.  It is work at the beginning, but once that is done, it just needs updating.

Business Cards:

These stay in your pocket or bag and are only taken out when requested.  Don’t pander for business; it is a turn off and creates a relationship barrier.  In modern MD offices, they will ask for ONE so that you can be put into the EMR for referrals.  MDs don’t have a pile of business cards or script pads when they use an EMR.  You have to be in the system.  For the older practices that are not using EMR, they will need a prescription pad or cards.  Once you get to know them, you can ask them, “What is the easiest way for you to pass my office information along?”

Once you get a few of these under your belt, you will get the concept and be able to go with the flow.  My office goal is 2 MD lunches per month, all year long.  I also have, on average, 1 MD CME lecture per month as well.  This is a more formal presentation that is approved for AMA Cat 1 CME and is done at the MD office or in a hospital setting.   If you are interested in being a presenter for the CME program, please see the MD Lecture Program information in the “Forms -Communication Materials” area in the members section. {jcomments on}

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