Embracing Introspection, Inspiration, and Humor in Professional Journeys

Traveling for work, especially in the healthcare profession, can be a mix of challenges and rewards. As highlighted in a recent chapter of my memoirs, “Human Touch,” my experiences on the road teaching fellow chiropractors have provided me with a wealth of introspection, inspiration, and humorous anecdotes that continue to shape my professional journey. This blog delves into the often-unglamorous reality of business travel, the importance of evidence-based practice, and the profound impact of maintaining a sense of humor.

The Illusion of Glamour in Professional Travel

Contrary to popular belief, the glamour of travel often touted in movies and advertisements is largely an illusion. The reality involves long hours of waiting—waiting to board a plane, waiting for shuttles, waiting to check in at hotels, and the monotonous routine of navigating airports and conference centers. As I recounted to my friend Rick, this repetitive cycle often leaves one waking up in a hotel room and momentarily forgetting which city they are in. However, amidst the monotony, there are moments that stand out, offering a break from the routine and a chance to appreciate the world outside conference rooms.

One such moment occurred during a trip to the New Hampshire Chiropractic Society’s fall convention. The timing was perfect; my wife Jennifer and I arrived at the height of New England’s fall foliage. This brief respite allowed us to enjoy the local scenery, a rare treat during my numerous travels. It’s these small windows of opportunity that remind us to find joy and beauty, even in the busiest of schedules.

The Importance of Evidence-Based Practice

A significant part of my career has been dedicated to advocating for evidence-based practices in chiropractic care. During my lectures, I often discuss the concept of reliability in clinical procedures, which includes intra-examiner and inter-examiner reliability. Intra-examiner reliability refers to a single examiner’s consistency in their examination results over multiple attempts, while inter-examiner reliability compares the consistency between different examiners. Unfortunately, many procedures used in chiropractic care have shown low reliability in studies.

For instance, in one of my presentations, I reviewed numerous scientific studies examining the reliability of various chiropractic assessment procedures. The findings revealed that only a few methods, such as measurements on X-rays, palpation for pain, and plumb-line posture analysis, demonstrated high reliability. These revelations often spark discomfort and resistance among practitioners, as they challenge long-held beliefs and practices within the profession.

A memorable encounter occurred when a young chiropractor approached me, visibly upset by my lecture’s content. He argued that his patients improved under his care, thereby proving the reliability of his methods. I countered by suggesting that patient improvements could be due to the natural history of their conditions or placebo effects rather than the specific treatments provided. This perspective is supported by numerous studies showing that placebo effects can significantly influence patient outcomes (Finniss et al., 2010).

Embracing the Placebo Effect

The placebo effect is a fascinating and often misunderstood phenomenon in healthcare. Defined as a change in a patient’s condition attributable to the symbolic impact of a treatment rather than its specific properties (Kaptchuk, 2002), the placebo effect underscores the power of the mind in the healing process. Acknowledging this can enhance patient care by leveraging positive patient-doctor interactions to improve outcomes.

In my lectures, I emphasize that placebo effects should not be dismissed or viewed negatively. Instead, they should be harnessed as a powerful tool in the healing process. For example, studies have shown that factors such as the doctor’s warmth, friendliness, and positive attitude towards the patient and treatment can significantly enhance the placebo effect (Benedetti, 2008). Recognizing and utilizing these factors can lead to better patient outcomes, regardless of the specific treatment being administered.

The Power of Self-Deprecating Humor

Amidst the serious discussions on evidence-based practice and the placebo effect, humor remains a vital component of my teaching and professional interactions. Self-deprecating humor, in particular, helps create a relatable and engaging atmosphere. An instance that highlights this occurred during a lecture when a friend signaled from the back of the room that my fly was open—a distraction caused by an earlier heated exchange with a skeptical attendee. Addressing the situation with humor not only diffused any potential embarrassment but also brought a moment of levity to the audience.

Humor, especially in the form of self-deprecation, allows for connection and relatability. It breaks down barriers and fosters a more open and engaging learning environment. This approach aligns with research suggesting that humor in education can reduce anxiety, enhance participation, and improve retention of information (Banas et al., 2011).


Traveling for professional purposes, particularly in the healthcare field, is a journey filled with challenges, moments of introspection, and opportunities for inspiration. By embracing evidence-based practices, recognizing the power of the placebo effect, and maintaining a sense of humor, healthcare professionals can navigate these journeys more effectively. These elements not only enhance professional growth but also contribute to better patient care and personal fulfillment.

As I continue my odyssey in healthcare, these lessons remain at the forefront of my practice, reminding me to approach each day with a balance of seriousness and humor, introspection and inspiration.


Banas, J. A., Dunbar, N., Rodriguez, D., & Liu, S. J. (2011). A review of humor in educational settings: Four decades of research. Communication Education, 60(1), 115-144.

Benedetti, F. (2008). Mechanisms of placebo and placebo-related effects across diseases and treatments. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 48, 33-60.

Finniss, D. G., Kaptchuk, T. J., Miller, F., & Benedetti, F. (2010). Biological, clinical, and ethical advances of placebo effects. The Lancet, 375(9715), 686-695.

Kaptchuk, T. J. (2002). The placebo effect in alternative medicine: Can the performance of a healing ritual have clinical significance? Annals of Internal Medicine, 136(11), 817-825.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *