The importance of properly training your chiropractic assistants
Most chiropractors would agree that a good chiropractic assistant (CA) can be the difference between an efficient, effective office where patients feel safe and at the center of their own care and an office ruled by chaos, floods of paperwork, and neglected patients.
Just like chiropractors, chiropractic assistants need compassion, a strong work ethic, and a good moral compass to excel in their field. And just like chiropractors, good chiropractic assistants are born through education, experience, and professional and personal development.
As a chiropractor, you likely face three major obstacles when it comes to finding and keeping a qualified CA:
1. Finding appropriate training;
2. Increasing lawsuits because of poorly-trained CAs; and
3. Lack of appropriate regulatory oversight.
There is a strong argument for appropriate regulatory oversight for CAs. The question this raises, however, is “what is appropriate?”
U.S. licensing boards are split on CA certification. Some boards choose to license or register chiropractic assistants, while others hold the supervising DC accountable for their CA’s actions. On the one hand, anyone who has therapeutic contact with patients presents an opportunity for negligence or abuse.
Patient protection—the licensing board’s raison d’etre—is at risk.
However, no good licensing board wants to tie practitioners’ hands and limit patient access through over-regulation.
Which leaves us with the question: How does a chiropractor train and oversee their CA?
Proper training is key
There exists a wealth of training out there, both in person and online, for CAs to learn the foundational knowledge necessary to provide you the support your practice needs. Sifting through those options, however, can be daunting.
Options include the Certified Chiropractic Clinical Assistant program (CCCA) offered by the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB) or through your state’s chiropractic board. This voluntary certification includes vetting and identification of quality CA education, an independent exam created by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and administered on-demand. It also encompasses supervised clinical practice, CE accountability, and recognition for qualified CAs.
With growing concerns about patient safety, the discussion of CA regulation is an increasingly loud one. Insurance companies, lawmakers, and patient advocates are calling for standardization, minimum parameters of care, and accountability for these key health care employees.
The bottom line is, chiropractic assistants are health care professionals—just like you. They need training, responsibility, and opportunities to grow. Accountability and oversight programs such as the CCCA or the voluntary certifications some states offer are a good way to balance patient protection with reasonable regulation.
By helping your CAs earn professional recognition, you demonstrate to them and to your patients that you take your CA’s responsibilities seriously.
Make sure your CA is trained as a health care professional to treat your patients well.
Kelly Webb has been with the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards for more than 14 years. She is responsible for coordinating the PACE continuing education program, developing and maintaining the FCLB websites, and assisting with writing and correspondence needs of the Federation. She can be reached at www.fclb.org/Home/Staff.aspx.