In a chiropractic clinic, the Chiropractic Health Assistant (CHA) is
the person who possesses a unique blend of skill sets and personality.
The CHA role is a range from assistant to teacher, to patient coach, to
In a chiropractic clinic, the Chiropractic Health Assistant (CHA) is the person who possesses a unique blend of skill sets and personality. The CHA role is a range from assistant to teacher, to patient coach, to advocate. Of all the roles that a CHA can fill, the most stimulating, transforming and inspirational role is that of an advocate.
The chiropractic advocate comes in many forms, but one of the most powerful forms is the CHA who either has “advocacy duties” attached to their day-to-day duties or solely fills the role of an advocate in your practice. There are unique ways in which one can assign duties, or advance the role of an assistant to an advocate. In this issue, I want to spend some time analyzing how a clinic might support its staff to become more actively involved in advocacy at the front desk.
I want to prelude my statements by suggesting that I am not minimizing the value of assisting and reception in a chiropractic clinic. This keeps your doors open, maintains a more efficient flow, and reduced stress for you and your patients. Chiropractic advocates do all these things and more! They take every opportunity to advance the health of patients by giving knowledge – they advance the agenda that chiropractic is not an alternative treatment, but a primary health-care choice. They advocate on behalf of patients who believe that they have fallen “victim” to their health. They understand their own belief systems, and shortcomings, in regards to health and can field any objections about chiropractic, or any other healing modality. They do this because they understand the Big Picture and desire to be part of the change.
WHAT IS ADVOCACY?
Advocacy is often misunderstood and compared to lobbying. Lobbying is not advocacy. Lobbying often has a political context with an end outcome of changing regulation and laws, or has monetary gains attached to it. True advocacy is a grassroots movement that is taken on by small groups of people, often with very few political ties. These grassroots members have far-reaching community ties, and strive to mobilize these community ties for a “common goal.” CHAs are people who, I think, should be capitalized on, at a community level, to spread the message of chiropractic at a grassroots level.
Grass roots in chiropractic can start with your patient base. Patients are representatives of the general public who have developed distinctive relationships with your front staff. These relationships are an enormous part of why patients come to your practice. Imagine the difference for the social understanding of chiropractic if we could leverage these relationships between CHAs and patients in a different way!
Advocacy is about advancing a cause. In order to advance a cause, one must understand the following:
• What is the cause? (The message, or vision of chiropractic and your practice)
• Who is the target audience? (Who are you advocating for, or to?)
• Does the “advocate” have the proper information to share?
• What is the end result of advocacy? (What are we trying to achieve?)
The CHAs whom I meet every day across North America want to maximize their roles in their practices. They are prepared to take on the role of an advocate or, at the very least, attach some advocacy duties to their current position descriptions.
How can we leverage this better with our staff?
• CHAs require in-depth information about the Big Picture. The art, science, and philosophy that is chiropractic. Direct them to reading, seminars, the web – have them research chiropractic on a larger scale.
• Allow opportunity. Encourage CHAs to share their information, even if they don’t have all the answers. Advocacy is about the cause, not the details.
• Find a mentor!! If that mentor is not you, assist them to find someone whom they can look up to and emulate.
• Link job duties to advocacy. What could your CHAs do with patients, or in
the community, that would enhance the opportunity previously mentioned?
• Support your CHAs’ transformational learning. CHAs require continuing
• Have a mechanism in place in your practice to teach. A teaching practice is a practice where CHAs and patients can identify with chiropractic and with the “greater vision,” whatever that might be
• Invite dialogue and debate with your staff. When we are encouraged to think critically, we are more likely to retain the knowledge.
I believe that one of the keys to our chiropractic success and future greater success will be to involve CHAs at an advocacy level. Small groups of people have mobilized and generated massive changes in many arenas. I think chiropractic clinics across Canada have an opportunity to use CHAs differently – and I believe they are up for the challenge!
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