Interview with Andrew Cohen, Chiropractor

Recently, I interviewed my chiropractor and colleague, Andrew Cohen. Even if you’re familiar with chiropractic, I think you’ll enjoy this interview. I didn’t ask about the technical aspects of his work, but as a patient, I would say that he has a gentler way of doing chiropractic, a softer touch.

“What is a specialty of yours?”
I like to be the guy who figures out the situation that other people couldn’t figure out. So it’s common that people see me after seeing 6 to 10 other healthcare providers.

Looking at what others have done, and appreciating that, and seeing what they missed puts together a good picture and results.

Most patients are between 30 and 50, and they just want to not think about their body. They want it to be the same as it was at 20. I’m most excited to work with someone who’s motivated to get better, who’s engaged.

Parents are a kind of athlete; they want to lift their kid and play with them without pain. And working with a parent is just as satisfying as working with a pro athlete when you see them smile once they can move without pain.

“How did you get into this field, and how did you pick this specialty?”
Brainwashed by my dad. My dad’s a chiropractor, my aunt was a chiropractor. I just thought when you were in pain, you went to your parent and they fixed you.

At age 9, I found out that not every parent had this magical power. I wanted to help people so they could play more. They [family] tricked me into thinking I had a choice. 🙂

Before this I was a professional student. Went to college. Then chiropractic school. I knew this is what I wanted to do. I was excited to graduate.

I’d done some jobs, like deliver pizza, installed carpet, driven a golf cart, been a personal trainer in a gym.

Being a small business person is like having many careers. First I was just a chiropractor, and now I’m creating systems to allow my practice to grow past myself. Working for yourself is like 10 different jobs. You’re a marketer, bookkeeper, motivator, manager, a doctor.

“What’s a favorite book?”
My favorite book is “Ishmael” by Daniel Quinn. It’s an obscure book that centers around a gorilla teaching a man about the meaning of life. It’s one of those books that I reread, and each time I get something different. It’s about how everything in the world is interconnected. It challenges global beliefs. Thought-provoking read.

“Cuisine?”
I absolutely love Mexican food. Can’t get enough of it. Downtown, near my office, I like Tlaloc. Mixt Greens, Tender Greens, healthier places. Curry Up Now (the Indian food truck).

“Music?”
I’m going through a music transition. Grew up on hip hop in North Carolina. And now I’m having more and more issues with the lyrics. So I’m listening to more instrumental hip hop like Wax Taylor. I also like James Taylor and folksy music, country music growing up in the South.

“What experience changed how you view the world or yourself?”
I organized a group of chiropractors to go to Uganda to provide free care and to assess the needs of this rural community, because the non-profit was primarily focused on building schools. They realized many students and teachers were skipping school because they weren’t well.

15 of us went and 3 were chiropractors. A common villager job was farming. Guys come down the hill with logs on their head. No electricity, no running water. So people walked on muddy roads and had to get their own water.

We were there for 5-6 weeks. And when we went to leave, my interpreter told me there were 50 people lined up outside of our makeshift clinic trying to get care. Many people had come from other villages far away.

I had to make the tough decision that we had to stick to our original schedule rather than stay longer. It emphasized that though we were doing good things, we made people reliant on us. It took away a lot of the good feelings about the trip and made me feel we weren’t empowering people.

So I revamped my entire practice. My goal now is to get people the tools to stay out of my office as much as possible.

“What experience helped you to be a better person?”
Realizing that my successes aren’t my own. That I’ve had a lot of support, and it’s my responsibility to give back.

“What’s a misconception the public has about your field?”
That it takes a long time to get better. If you have a motivated patient and doctor, that’s not the case. Good doctors look at why you’re in pain; people should feel somewhat better at the end of their first visit.

Rarely does a patient have the same amount of pain when they leave my office after the first session.

“What do you find satisfying about this field?”
Some people walking in are cranky or standoffish, because they feel this is just another hoop they have to jump through. And they think it’s probably not even going to work. It’s common when someone is snappy, unfriendly, or even rude to me or our team.

And then they leave laughing and telling me how much better they feel. How quick the results are!

Note from William
If you’d like to learn more about Andrew’s chiropractic practice, please visit www.ProActiveSF.com.

If you know a highly skilled healthcare practitioner who practices in San Francisco and has a good sense of humor, feel free to nominate them for a future interview. Just send me an email with their name, website, and why you think they’re awesome.

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