With a new credential, you will gain knowledge as well as something else equally as important: the ability to differentiate yourself as an expert.

I get asked all of the time – should I spend money adding more letters after my name? It seems that in the chiropractic profession, paying for additional training and thereby an additional certification comes under some scrutiny. Most of the time the question is “Is it worth it?”

What are Certifications?

I am talking about things like the Diplomate in Pediatrics, the Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician, the Titleist Performance Institute, the Webster Technique, Active Release Technique and several dozen other credentials that result in a few additional letters after the D.C. in your title. Additionally, courses such as taping, movement analysis, dry needling or extremity adjusting certification to name a few. Many new graduates I have spoken with feel like this money might be wasted. After all, many of us graduate with extensive knowledge in areas like sports, pediatrics, extremity treatment and rehab. Why pay thousands of dollars for an additional credential?

Are Certifications Worth It?

There are three types of value to consider when evaluating an additional certification. The first is the knowledge you obtain, the second is value that your new letters bestow upon you, and the third is simply the desire to support an organization that supports our profession. Of course most certifications also result in CEUs obtains.

  1. Knowledge – First and foremost, will you learn information that will improve your body of knowledge and therefore the care of your patients?
  2. Value of the new letters – You may feel extremely competent caring for kids, and your chiropractic college may have provided thorough training, but being able to say that you are a certified pediatric chiropractor when networking with pediatricians carries a lot of weight. It is not that they know the ICPA or the ACA Pediatrics Council and what the training entails, but simply the fact that you cannot market yourself as a board certified pediatric chiropractor without one of those credentials. As another example, you may be able to say you treat athletes, but can you say you are a sports chiropractor without an additional certification?
  3. Supporting organizations – You will have many choices when it comes to certifications in taping, soft tissue applications and rehab, this is your opportunity to make a choice in where your money goes. Are they an organization that is supporting your values and the chiropractic profession?

A Wasted Certification

I recently heard from a new doctor that he thinks some certifications are wasted. In other words, that after completing a certification, many doctors are not ‘using’ their training as much as they thought they would. This is an important consideration! If you are not planning to treat golfers, you may not want to spend the time and money on a certificate from the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI). BUT…. remember also that getting a credential such as TPI does not guarantee an influx of golfers to your practice. You still have to put your marketing and networking hat on and go to work.

What about Non-Certification Memberships?

One of the questions I am often asked is whether it is worth it to belong to state and national chiropractic associations. Membership can be expensive and the cost of supporting our profession can add up. The answer is YES! I always recommend that we all support the organizations that support us. Choose a national association to support. I belong to the ACA. I also belong to my state association, the Colorado Chiropractic Association (CCA). In addition, you may also be required to maintain membership of associations which provide certifications. For example, the American Chiropractic Board of Sports Physicians (ACBSP) maintains my Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician credential, and therefore, I must belong to this organization. The same is true for the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA). You may also choose to belong to specialty councils, as I choose to support the ACA Pediatrics Council. These associations are valuable resources for building professional relationships and overall industry growth. And everything is everything when it comes to nurturing relationships in our profession.

Growing and Giving Back to Chiropractic

If you know me, you know that I am a big believer in leaving our profession better than we found it. It is our obligation to nurture chiropractic and make it better. And with that, to make sure that more people are utilizing chiropractors and referring friends and family to chiropractic. Becoming a specialist may be an important part of our professional growth. Certifications and expertise are the fast track to differentiating your practice from another while at the same time, supporting each other with cross referrals. Putting down advanced training is never going to get you anywhere. Advanced training is just that, advanced. There will always be something to learn, always someone to make you better and always someone who needs your expertise. I believe that those put down advanced certifications may want to review the Dunning-Kreuger effect and check in with what they have left to learn. Personally, I never want to be the smartest person in the room… as soon as that happens I will need to find another room (thanks Dr. Capobianco for that wisdom!)

Much more about certifications and networking are available in my book, THE MANUAL for the Chiropractic Entrepreneur available now on AMAZON!