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Chiropractic assistant training: chief, cook and bottlewasher

Chiropractic assistant training, the many roles of the chiropractic assistant and how to train for growth are issues that every chiropractic practice...

Chiropractic assistant training, the many roles of the chiropractic assistant and how to train for growth

Often when we look at the construct of a chiropractic practice, we gravitate to the doctor as the hub, or center of the practice. What if we took a step back and looked at all the members of the team? Even if it’s a team of two.

Is one member more important than the other? We would argue an emphatic no! The supporting team members are equally important in their roles and without them, chaos would most certainly ensue. To see this in a different light, compare the chiropractic office to any professional sports team where all players have their roles and must execute those roles for the team to be successful.

In this view, we could now look at the doctor as the captain of the team. The chiropractic assistant, a most vital part of the team, carries out their assignments and responsibilities at the direction of the captain, and the office flows.

Clear communication

Now here’s the million-dollar question — has the captain presented the assignments and responsibilities clearly? Or, is there just an expectation of understanding the role of the CA?

In many practices, there oftentimes exists an expectation that the team should know what to do, when to do it and how to do it. We frequently see offices in organizational turmoil simply because these expectations are never really discussed. A question to ask as the doctor, or team captain, is “Have I clearly defined the role of this team member, and am I providing adequate chiropractic assistant training?”

A typical day

Let’s look at a typical day in the life of a front desk manager in a chiropractic office. At any given point the doctor expects them to handle the flow of the office, answer the phone, collect money, verify insurance, enter everything in the computer, hold a baby while the mom gets adjusted, schedule the new patient who’s calling, make sure the reception area is in order, pull charts and get the mail out. And that is just the morning shift!

Now consider other team members. The billing manager, the new patient advocate, the back office manager, the scribe and all the others. Each and every one provides a vital service to the team’s success. They are the unsung heroes! Let’s face it: Without the team, life in the office could legitimately fall apart. And without the proper direction and training for the team, the same result would likely occur.

Find the ‘why’

The understanding of each one of these roles must begin with establishing, and owning, the “why.” The why of chiropractic, the why of the practice mission, and the why of the practice vision. These need to be a part of the team members’ mindset, because without them, all the training in the world could be rendered fruitless due to a lack of ownership.

Take for a moment the titles of the different CA roles that we’ve mentioned. Would ownership of the role and position be more likely from a “front desk manager” or a “front desk CA”? A team member can always be taught the necessary steps to accomplish an assigned task, but to assume an ownership of that task always requires the why.

The supporting team members in a chiropractic practice should start with a strong philosophical foundation — then we can look to the training it takes to be successful in the role. Successful team training can be broken down into three main requirements: Explain the procedure in detail, support the procedure with the “why,” and train with repetition. This simple formula is one that can make the difference between an amazing, low-stress practice and a mediocre one.

As the captain of the team, the doctor must first examine and establish the “why” to be shared with the team. Once that has been accomplished, a detailed list of procedures should be outlined in order to create organization. Next, dissect the procedures to the smallest detail. Finally, train on them outside of patient hours in order to establish ownership.

Although this process may seem like a daunting task, it is completely necessary in order to create a lower-stress environment in the practice. Further, by creating an environment where everyone knows what is expected, a door for massive growth is opened.

ROBERT KIPP, DC, is a managing director of Power CA’s. He has been in private practice for 18 years and continues to operate a successful cash practice in Southport, Conn. He can be reached at

TIMOTHY KELLY, DC, is a managing director of Power CA’s. He is a magna cum laude graduate of New York Chiropractic College and an international speaker, and holds certifications in Wellness and Pediatrics through the ICA. He can be reached at

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