A good chiropractic assistant (CA) can free up your time by providing certain patient services while also helping your office run more efficiently through the performance of administrative tasks. Yet, not everyone is the right fit for this particular role, nor may they be a good fit for your specific office.
Finding someone who is both an amazing CA and aligned with your practice begins with first identifying what you’re looking for in an assistant.
Clarifying the CA role
A chiropractic assistant’s job functions can vary from one practice to the next. Before hiring a CA, it’s important to decide what you want them to do. This tells you the skill sets they must have to be a success within your practice.
Some of the functions that might be assigned to a CA include:
- checking in patients
- scheduling appointments or calling patients to remind them of upcoming appointments
- cleaning examination rooms between patient visits
- restocking and/or organizing supplies
- updating patient records
- assisting with adjustments and other chiropractic procedures (i.e., massage, TENS units, etc.)
Make a list of the functions you want your CA to perform. Add them to the job post so potential applicants know upfront what will be expected of them.
Look for the right hard skills
Chiropractic assistants need certain hard skills to work in this role. They must know medical terminology, for example. This reduces the risk of miscommunication due to not knowing what a term means. If they update patients’ health records, understanding medical terminology helps them do this accurately.
Another hard skill important for CAs is computer skills. With the implementation of electronic health records (EHRs), chiropractic assistants must know how to input patient information into the system correctly for diagnostic and treatment purposes, and for insurance submission acceptance.
If you plan to have your CA assist with adjustments or other chiropractic procedures, they need those skills as well. Ask about the techniques or modalities they’re trained to provide. They may have training in an area that you don’t currently offer, enabling you to expand your services.
Don’t forget about soft skills too
Hard skills aren’t the only type of skills beneficial to chiropractic assistants. Soft skills are also critical as they can impact how well the person works with you and your patients.
Soft skills that can be beneficial for CAs include:
- Interpersonal communication. An article published in the Journal of Medicine and Life calls communication in healthcare a “fundamental clinical skill” that helps facilitate trust between the patient and provider. Being able to effectively communicate with you and your team is also necessary to ensure that you’re all on the same page. During the hiring process, ask the candidate to describe a time in which they had a conflict with someone else. How did they resolve it? This will give you insight into their communication style in tough situations.
- Organizational skills. Disorganization causes chaos. In a chiropractic practice, it can also lead to missing information or paperwork, not enough supplies, and poor patient service. To assess a potential CA’s organizational skills, ask what they do to stay organized. Another option is to question how they prioritize work tasks. The latter tells you if they’re good at organizing their day based on taking care of important tasks first.
- Compassion and empathy. When a patient is dealing with a health issue, showing them a little care can go a long way. Hiring a chiropractic assistant that is capable of offering this level of care via being compassionate and empathetic can create a more comforting process for the patient. It may also be the difference between that patient coming back or seeking out a new office that meets their emotional needs as well as it does their physical ones.
Training your CAs
If a chiropractic assistant has the right soft skills but is missing some hard skills, you may decide to hire them and help them secure the needed training. They’ll also require some level of training on your computer system and how your office operates.
Current staff can provide training on office policies and procedures, as well as give a tutorial on how to use your software. The software provider might provide some training for new staff as well, whether online or in-house.
Any additional training may have to be sought elsewhere, such as by attending a workshop or taking some type of class. Even if there is a cost, it can be a good investment…especially if the CA is a good fit for your practice and loved by your patients.