What’s a Chiropractic Assistant?

After I got out of the US Coast Guard in 2008, I drifted from job to job for several years, unable to find my focus.  I’d never seen a chiropractor, and had only the vaguest notion as to what they did.  Something about spines.

In March of 2016, I was working in fast food (an all-too-common fate for veterans in America), making Subway sandwiches very precisely and quickly with great customer service and hating every minute of it.  At the same time, I was bombarding every business in town with a blanket campaign of targeted resumes and applications.  My then-fiance was working hard in corporate retail at the time (another soul-sucking field if ever there was one), and together we were able to pair our meager finances and scrape out a living one month at a time.

One day, I went and interviewed for a position at an eye clinic, which was in one of those professional buildings where several medical people have private offices.  As I came downstairs after the interview, I saw that one of the downstairs offices had a sign up saying they were hiring.  They hadn’t posted anything on the Job Center website, so I hadn’t seen the opening.  Since I was looking for any work, I went inside.

What I felt when I walked in was a stagnating, dying place.  You couldn’t really call it a business.  Half the lights were off.  There was no-one at the front desk, just a sign asking people to sign in and the doctor would be with them soon.  It was deathly still and quiet, actually a little creepy to walk into.  [Dr. B would like me to clarify that the practice was technically closed for lunch at the time.]  But I saw signs here and there that this had once been a bustling, positive place.  It was in the signs and educational materials on the wall.  I could tell that people who actually cared worked here at one time, and I hoped that the doctor was one of them.

I interviewed with the doctor, and we seemed to get along pretty well.  There were some somewhat unusual questions for a job interview, such as “what is your definition of health” and “tell me a funny story”.  As it turns out, chiropractors are an odd bunch, but I’ll talk about that later.  After some initial stiffness, I found him to be warm and personable.  I started to catch myself investing emotionally in the idea of working at a place of healing, and by the time he called to say he wanted to hire me a few days later, it came as an immense relief and a triumph.

I went to work immediately, and as I look around now from the front desk, I see a business I’m proud to say I helped revive.  In a general sense, that’s what a Chiropractic Assistant is: the difference between a live clinic and a dead one.  Or one closed for lunch, I suppose.

The CA is what animates the practice and gives it its life and character.  “Chiropractic Assistant” is a misleading title; basically, if it’s NOT chiropractic, that’s what we do.

I run the front desk, sure.  But I’m also an office manager, a billing manager, a PR and marketing manager.  I’m the janitor, the mail girl, and the insurance and coding specialist.  I audit patient accounts, and help the doctor write his SOAP notes.  I’m the first one there in the morning, though the doctor often stays later than I do.

There are plenty of chiropractors who only employ one CA, but I think most offices have more.  Not everyone can handle the workload of being the only CA in a clinic, for one thing.  However, being in this situation has shown me my career, my calling.  I’d like to share my insights and experiences with you.

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