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.