Leading by example

Patient engagement by promoting healthier living
John De Finney
April 13, 2015
Written by John De Finney
Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why and thought-provoking Ted Talk speaker, believes that the driving force behind a successful leader is taking action on his or her “why.”

Taking a step back from the science, diagnosis and treatments, consider why your business exists and where the passion stems from. Is it to achieve a level of health beyond pain management? Perhaps you truly believe in championing wellness in your community.

What you do is the bread and butter of your business as a practitioner and it is of utmost importance to deliver safe and reliable therapy. However, when engaging your patients and staff, explaining why you chose this profession can potentially motivate patients to pursue a healthier lifestyle. Share your “why” and show your patients that their health and well-being matter to you.

There are many opportunities to get involved with the patient community. As a health practitioner you can give presentations to local groups, sporting clubs, senior groups or to the general public at local libraries or community centres. Sometimes meeting rooms are available at local police stations or fire halls. Within sport, there is opportunity for coaching, training, hosting events and organizing. It all boils down to showing that you are engaged in your community and that you have a genuine interest in helping people have better health. In doing so, you get a chance to apply your knowledge and skill to more people, building your practice and making it fun to go to work every day.

As race director for Backs in Motion from 1983 to 2014, I have witnessed how this event, hosted by the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, has continuously engaged patients and the chiropractic community for nearly 32 years.

The Backs in Motion 10-kilometre-run and five-kilometre run/walk began its first year as the Run for Chiropractic Education event. The race was held at Sunnybrook Park, where between 600 and 700 runners participated.

The idea for a run began with a discussion by a few clinicians who wanted to spruce up the patient clinic at CMCC but had no funds to do so. At that time, running races were just beginning to catch on in Toronto. Dr. Sil Mior was my clinical associate at the time. He contacted me and asked if I would provide the race organizers with a few ideas on how to organize a race.  

That one meeting led to my position as race director and technical director for the next 31 years. That first year we raised approximately $50,000. It was a great start. The following year was even better, when we really attracted world-class runners – one even broke a record.

With just under 1,000 runners in 1984, the winning time was 29 minutes and 11 seconds for the 10-kilometre run, with the second place runner behind by only two seconds and the third place runner another second behind. The second place runner was John Castellano who set a record for the fastest 10-kilometre run by a Canadian Junior. There were 10 runners who completed in under 31 minutes. More importantly, there were more than 60 chiropractors running.

Every year since its inception, Backs in Motion was held at Sunnybrook Park, until CMCC’s move to Leslie Street. This new location for the school provided us with the best location for the yearly race. The course is scenic with more than half the race on trails in the park. Having the race at the school gives us much better pre- and post-race options – and also helps to showcase the CMCC to the public.

Backs in Motions has been benefitting CMCC and the community for more than three decades. As a fundraiser, it’s not hard to imagine this event has raised close to $1.5 million. Staff and students have embraced the run and many alumni return to help out every year.

Within the running community, Backs in Motion has a wonderful reputation for its scenic race route and well-marshalled, accurate course. The prizes are among the best for age group winners and draws, and the loot bags are generous. The post-race food is highly regarded as well.

Backs in Motions is one event where chiropractors can engage their patients and the public – I adding excitement and raising the energy level in the clinic. That kind of enthusiasm begins with the doctors, moves through the staff and the patients.

For that reason as well as many others, I stay involved with events in my community. I was a founder of Hit and Run Golf, a charity event that mixes running and golf. In our clinic over the years, we have held wellness classes and spoken to local medical doctors about chiropractic and sports injuries. Holding these events exposes chiropractic and our services to the community.

The next Backs in Motion Run/Walk will take place at CMCC, 6100 Leslie Street, Toronto, on Sunday, April 26, 2015. Visit www.cmcc.ca/backsinmotion for more information.


Dr. John De Finney is a bilingual chiropractor with a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education and a specialty in sports chiropractic. He is one of the founding members of the Canadian Chiropractic Sports Academy (now the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences). He has lectured at the undergraduate and post graduate level and published articles on sports injuries and treatment.


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