Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Evolution of a Master

By Brandi MacDonald   

Features Leadership Profession

The Dao of the chiropractic health assistant

22Chiropractors often wonder how they can assist their chiropractic health assistants (CHAs) to further master or evolve their current positions. Mastery requires the staff to establish a fine balance between managing administrative duties and demonstrating great knowledge about health and healing. They must show passion, enthusiasm, commitment and love for chiropractic and the clinic. This love and commitment is, then, shared with patients, potential patients and the community at large. So how does the staff achieve this mastery?

Masterful CHAs are a reflection of principled leadership and leadership, to staff, is an “inside” job. Too often, in chiropractic clinics, staff is seen as semi-independent components that need to be “fixed or changed.” Instead, first and foremost, more focus should be placed on providing inspired leadership – only then, can this leadership be applied to evolving a more permanent and effective staff. In fact, more often than not, mastery for the CHA is more about evolution and development than it is about hiring or firing.


Here are a few general areas where a chiropractor can assist in the evolution of a masterful CHA through principled leadership: 

Hiring the right people to begin with is key. Too often, staff are hired solely on their “potential.” Chiropractors are inclined, by nature and training, to look for potential in people. The greatness that is within staff is always important to find, but should not be the sole criterion. Some strategic thinking and planning should take place before the hire. What skills does the clinic require? What personality type, transferable skills and, yes, potential would suit the clinic and complement the doctor? Interview questions should not only address the tangible skills you want staff to have, but consider behavioural and situational questions to get a handle on how a particular candidate might react in certain situations likely to  be encountered in the clinic. 

Leaders require a clear vision for themselves, their clinic, their staff and the profession. When vision exists, it becomes the “grounding” place for all procedural conversations in the clinic. Staff will feel like they are working for something bigger than themselves. When staff see a bigger vision, it enables commitment to their jobs and to improving themselves to reach ever closer to the vision. Clarity, when communicating vision to the staff, requires providing written procedures that outline expectations and systemize everything that occurs at the front end. Systemizing the front end creates stability for the staff and for the doctor. The front end should run like a finely tuned machine. This can help counter feelings of stress, help avoid confusion and chaos, and free up more time for coaching the “greatness from within.”

There’s a saying that goes: The distinction between a manager and a leader is as broad as the distance between control and inspiration. It goes without saying that chiropractic has been an emotional profession. Sometimes this emotion results in DCs leading their staff with highly charged affecting energy, as opposed to more strategic, principled leadership.

Principled leadership re-quires setting clear, respectful bound-aries with staff, being clear about one’s own shortcomings and personal development objectives, and then working to inspire others. Being a leader to staff is more challenging than the relatively simple act of doing leadership tasks. “Doing” leadership is just management. Although necessary, management of staff is neither as fulfilling, nor as effective, as leading staff with principle and vision. In this manner of leadership can people be inspired, versus “changed.”

Perception often trumps all when it comes to human relationships. Being “in exchange” with the staff requires the doctor to have realistic expectations matched with fair compensation. The staff wants to feel that they are valued and included in the business, as well as fairly compensated.  “Out of exchange” feelings such as guilt, anger, sympathy or resentment can surface when the law is not being consistently applied. These feelings, either from the doctor, or from the staff, do not promote inspiration or a healthy environment. This negative energy undermines the effort of healing the patients who may come into contact with the stress. Check your own perceptions with staff, have staff check your perceptions, and keep clarity and vision the reference point for all communication.

Evolution means growth and adaptation. Great leadership requires commitment, time, a strategy and self-analysis. Only when true leadership evolves, will masterful chiropractic health assistants also evolve. The rewards will be abundant for you, the staff, your patients and for this remarkable profession.•

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