Originally from upstate New York, Dr. Paul Pugsley moved to California during grade school. After meeting his wife, Marilou, in undergraduate college, the couple decided to attend chiropractic school in Atlanta, Georgia, at Life Chiropractic College. In their last year at Life, Paul and Marilou had their first of five children. After graduating, Dr. Pugsley and family moved back to San Diego where they opened their first office in Spring Valley. Drs. Paul and Marilou Pugsley practiced together for some years and had four more children. In 1993, however, Dr. Marilou Pugsley passed away due to cancer.
Having practiced in California for the past 20 plus years, Dr. Pugsley now has two multi-disciplinary clinics that offer services of chiropractic, orthopedics, neurology, acupuncture and massage. In both offices, Dr. Pugsley has a family practice with an emphasis on automobile accident cases, Workers Compensation and trauma.
Proud to be the father of five children, with one daughter married, a daughter and son in college at the University of California at Berkeley and at San Diego, and with two boys still in high school, Dr. Pugsley also serves as team doctor for his children’s wrestling, tennis and cross-country sports teams—as well as being an excellent spectator! He’s definitely a success by anyone’s standard!
In an interview with The American Chiropractor (TAC), Dr. Paul Pugsley answers our Million Dollar Chiropractic (M$C) questions about his succesful practice.
Dr. Paul Pugsley's
Widowed. Was married for fifteen years to a wonderful chiropractor and spouse, Marilou, and has five children who are in college and high school.
Recreation and Leisure: “I feel that exercising is necessary to get out the negativity that we are constantly bombarded with. For a number of years, since I was in high school, I have loved to run, box and participate in Jiu-Jitsu. I also occasionally like to go skydiving!”
Professional Affiliations: American Chiropractic Association, California Chiropractic Association, International Chiropractic Association, California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery (CSIMS), Society of Pain Management
Seminar Attendance: “Practice Perfect, 3-4 times a year; Dan ‘The Man’ Murphy, excellent for auto accidents; Dr.’s Sosine and Platto for report writing; and I believe that Dr. Kimberly Williams’ seminars on rehabilitation and work conditioning are the best in the nation.”
Vacations: “Since I wind up having to travel a lot to talk with different professionals, when I go on vacation, I like to go to places on the beach so that I can relax and spend time with family. Recently, we went to Cabo San Lucas and had a wonderful time.”
Clinic: Two clinic locations: One in north San Diego county in Vista, CA, and the main operating clinic in east San Diego county in Spring Valley. Dr. Pugsley also has admitting privileges at several surgical centers throughout San Diego County.
Office Hours: The Clinics are open from 8:30 AM to 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
Techniques: Activator, Gonstead, Myosfascial Release and Diversified
Staff: Dr. Pugsley’s offices employ approximately 20 people. The professional staff includes 4 DC’s, 3 MD’s, 2 acupuncturists and 1 massage therapist. The office also has administrative staff in management, reception and billing.
M$C: What type of practice do you have?
Pugsley: It is a multidisciplinary care facility. At any given time, we have chiropractic, orthopedics, neurology, pain medicine, acupuncture, massage and physical therapy in the office.
M$C: Tell us, what do you look for in a staff member.
Pugsley: My main key is attitude. If the person has the right attitude, I can teach them almost anything. But, I can’t teach people how to be people; that is something their parents should have done.
M$C: Do you have a set profit-standard or margin formula for the business?
Pugsley: We work with a basic profit-standard for the business that has been developed by Dr. Daniel Dahan.
M$C: What marketing strategies do you use to attract new patients, and to keep current patients?
Pugsley: I generally go with a twelve-month plan that is rechecked every four months. Each month should involve a different phase of marketing, i.e., lunches with attorneys, meeting new orthopedists or neurosurgeons, sending news letters, farming technique (taking a zip code area, marketing to that area and marketing constantly to bring in a new crop), and I am big on face-to-face meetings with anyone and everyone.
M$C: How do you handle problems with patient retention?
Pugsley: I think that the big issue with patient retention is doing a proper report of findings. Present time consciousness–patient’s can definitely sense when you are with them in the moment or if you are giving them a canned or packaged spiel.
M$C: What Techniques do you use in your practice?
Pugsley: We favor a diversified technique. I feel I was lucky to go to a school that favored vertebral adjustments (Life Chiropractic College). My associates and I are familiar with a wide variety of techniques and, if technique “A” doesn’t work, then we will try technique “B.” Sometimes certain techniques don’t work on certain people, whether for mental, physical or emotional reasons, so a competent doctor will able to change his/her technique, up or down, depending on the patient.
M$C: How much time do you dedicate to learning new techniques (if any)?
Pugsley: A whole lot! I spend at least one weekend a month, sometimes more, at seminars learning new techniques. I enjoy going to seminars such as Master Mind, where doctors with open attitudes, techniques and philosophies explicitly share with each other. Some times I get more out of a seminar from talking with doctors in the hallways or even at lunch than from formal training.
M$C: Do you have a favorite “patient success” story?
Pugsley: One of my best success stories happened early on in my practice and helped shape my attitude toward chiropractic. I was working as an associate doctor and I had a Navy Seal come in. He saw me on Thursday and was scheduled for surgery that Monday for a large ruptured disc. The Navy gave him a couple of months to see if he could resolve the problem with chiropractic. Since I was working as an associate, this Navy Seal was paying a high dollar cash amount for every visit and had been doing this for eight weeks. I was so poor (starving student syndrome) and I knew how much money the Seal made a month. So, at the end of the eight weeks, I approached him and told him that I felt he should discontinue care, because I knew it was expensive, and I knew it showed some response, but I knew it was not enough.
He told me that he didn’t want to give up on me or chiropractic and he was hoping that I would not give up on him. He credits his career and quality of life to chiropractic and he taught me to have faith, confidence and belief in my skills as a chiropractor.
M$C: Having a multidisciplinary practice, what advice can you offer our readers about setting up and maintaining such a practice in today’s healthcare system?
Pugsley: Do your research. I personally interviewed many different consul-tants and specialists, some of whom are very well known. Under close scrutiny, it became apparent that they did not truly possess the knowledge that was needed for an honest, safe, practice.
M$C: Any final words or advice for our readers?
Pugsley: Do your best to enjoy what you are doing. I think the hardest part of being a chiropractor is being hit with negativity—most of which can come from members of our own profession. If you’re going to talk to other doctors, avoid those that are always complaining and get to the ones that you naturally want to spend time with because you know who they are.
If it weren’t for other doctors sharing and caring with me, I don’t believe that we would enjoy the degree of success that we do today.
You may contact Dr. Pugsley at
Our sincere thanks to Dr. Pugsley and his staff at Advantage Medical Group, 9903 Campo Road, Spring Valley, CA 91977. TAC
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