Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Still practicing after all these years...

In chiropractic college I was told that when we graduate, we would be, at best, competent chiropractors.  That after five years of practice, we might be good.  That was daunting at the time, but now I find myself 3 times good and a year.  If extended metaphor math isn't your strong suit, I'm closing in on 16 years of practice, and Russell Hill Chiropractic Clinic is officially 15 years old as of today.  We've come a long way, baby.

Before we were Russell Hill Chiropractic & Natural Health, the clinic was called Collis Chiropractic Clinic, run by Dr. Richard Collis.  He took me on as an associate in March of 2002, barely a year out of chiropractic college and still wet behind the ears.  I was in awe; the man could crack a back like no one else.  By summer of that year Dr. Collis gave me the opportunity to own the clinic, and I took it; one of the best decisions I've ever made.  When he told his patients that I would be taking over, I remember one patient cried; I'm happy to say that she gave me a chance and still comes for adjustments to this day.

The practice I took over was made up of me and one massage therapist, Kaaren Brooks.  Kaaren's hands are legendary, and though she moved to Calgary many years ago, her clients still ask about her. The following years were a whirlwind; Zach joined on as a second chiropractor, bringing his attention to detail and penchant for stretches, followed years later by Paul and the devoted patients who followed him.  Lisa brought Chinese medicine and Qi Gong to the clinic, paving the way for Julian today.  We have seen a parade of RMTs come and go: Amanda with her adorable Scottish accent, the always smiling Jessica, Lilian who worked briefly but left to travel to Iceland and we couldn't blame her.  Eva won our hearts and melted our muscles, while  Natalie worked our bodies with her hands of steel.  And of course the RMT team of today: Gary our resident wizard, Jenna's skilled hands and experience, Astra who everybody loves and Anthony who does powerful work with a subtlety that amazes us.  It's been a privilege to be in such good hands for 15 years.

Of course, when I took over the clinic I also inherited my first staff member.  Jody was a force to be reckoned with, and taught me so much about management and the importance of the reception role. When Jody moved on from reception to motherhood, Megan joined the team until the maritimes called her back. Chelsea, Meg, Krystina and Tina took your calls over the years, as did the formidable Lisa, who's skills are wide and varied. Hayley was the tallest to work here and among the loveliest, until she left for Amsterdam and never returned. I'll never forget Louise, who transformed this clinic using her marketing skills and business smarts to help take our work up to the next level. Steph's warmth was much appreciated, and now Sarah is in charge of all things admin, including keeping the very many of us organised and on time.  I literally could not have functioned without these smart and capable women, each bringing their unique skills and personality to this job.  I honestly have learned so much from each of you in the different times of my career; you were administrators, my right hand women, my gatekeepers, my babysitters, and my friends.  I spent more hours with you than my family!  I was always sad to see you leave, but always so happy and proud to watch you move onto your next adventures.

I'm getting verklempt.

There were others who came through this office, healers who stopped by for a year or a few to practice their craft.  Edra introduced me to Naturopatic Medicine well before Bita and Dori (spoiler alert! She's starting here soon!) brought their herbs to the clinic.  Andrea practiced reflexology until moving to the country, and brought in the skilled June to replace her.  Devon's obsession with healthy foods just made us hungrier, while Elisse blended mind and body work with her yoga therapy. Shawn and Janice snuck in on weekends, to teach us about all things baby: how to birth them, how to swaddle them, how to nurse them.  Isabelle joined on to tone our bodies, and today Alysa keeps us zen and flexible as she guides us in downward dog, while Mia pilatifies us daily, and reminds us to engage our lady muscles, though Trista recommends relaxing the same parts.  Jen was the first to practice psychotherapy in this space, until she went on to practice downtown. Amy keeps space in that space now, and keeps us all calm and in touch with our feelings.

... and I'm feeling nervous that I'm forgetting someone.

And of course, there's me.  I never had aspirations of chiropractic greatness, I just wanted to crack a few backs and make people feel better.  Chiropractic helped me, and I wanted to pay it forward.  Over the past 16 years I've been blessed with good luck, good timing and amazing patients.  Running this clinic and being a chiropractor has been joyful and challenging, my work and my passion.

15 years of practice, and I'm finally getting the hang of this.