Finding a Sensational Chiropractic Assistant

By Lisa Bilodeau, CA

The team that you are a part of determines, to a great extent, the distance your practice will go. The first challenge is finding the right team members for your practice, and the second challenge is keeping them. This article will cover finding a "sensational CA," and the next article will cover how to build a stronger team.

Finding a Sensational CA

I have found the application meeting process to be the most efficient process in terms of time and energy. I use the simple and efficient five-part "Application Meeting" process, compiled by Sherry Hodge, called "How to Hire a Sensational C.A."

Benefits of the Application Meeting Process

  • You only have to explain once what chiropractic is and what the job description is.
  • During the telephone screening, you will find the most qualified candidates and get a chance to get to know them briefly.
  • You will see how they act in a group setting. Do they sit in the corner with their arms and legs crossed? Do they say "Thank you," when you give them something? Do they help pass out forms? Are they too chatty?
  • Did they follow your instructions about what to do if they arrived early?

Part I - Placing the Ad

Before placing the ad, have a detailed written description of the ideal person, a job description, an office policy manual (for new hires), and an open mind.

  • Decide what day you will hold the application meeting. Tuesday or Wednesday evening after office hours usually works best.
  • Place your ad in your local paper(s) to run on Sunday only. This day typically has the largest readership, and most papers will post it on the Internet, too. (Ms. Hodge gives a sample ad in her packet.) If you place your ad on the Internet ( or similar listing), which usually runs the ad for a week or longer, it is important to state that the applicant must call on the same days listed in the newspaper ad.

Part II - Screening Potential Applicants

  • If possible, have all potential applicants call in on a second line, so you have an opportunity to do a brief screening to determine if they are qualified for the position. This is not the time to discuss the hours or salary; that will be covered at the application meeting.

Screening statements may sound like this: "We are looking for someone with strong clerical and people skills. Please tell me what kind of experience you have relating to this position." If you are looking for an insurance CA, ask them what kind of experience they have, and don't be afraid to ask what a CPT code is. If they say they have experience and they don't know what the procedural codes are, this may be an indication that they do not have the experience you desire.

  • Once you have determined that the applicant is a potential candidate, invite them to the application meeting. I tell them that if they arrive early, they should wait outside until we invite them in. Let's see if they follow directions.
  • I do not take résumés at this time. I want to spend time face-to-face with the applicants. Let's face it, many people have professional résumés writers create their résumés, and they don't always tell the whole story.

Part III - The Application Meeting

When the applicant arrives, they should go through the following process:

Sign in with their name and the time of arrival.

As they arrive, have them fill out a brief questionnaire, to give you an indication of what they believe chiropractic is, other information on their belief systems, salary requirements, etc.

After the applicant has turned in the questionnaire, the doctor and the chiropractic assistant will conduct the orientation. The CA will cover the job description, the hours, and job-related information. The doctor will give a presentation on what chiropractic is and what makes their office the best office in town. This is followed by a question-and-answer period.

The applicants who are interested in applying for the position are now given the opportunity.

Before giving them the four-part application to complete, give them another questionnaire that asks the same question about what they believe chiropractic is, as well as questions about when they can start, etc. Since the doctor has given a presentation, there should be some indication that the applicant learned something they may not have known before about chiropractic.

Once all applicants have completed this meeting, review the questionnaires and applications, and decide which applicants to call into the office for testing.

Part IV - Testing

All potential applicants should be given a filing test, a 10-key test, a typing test, a transposition test, and a general math test (without the aid of a calculator). If hiring for a billing position, they should be given a test related to that position, as well.

After correcting the tests, select the best-qualified candidates, call them and invite them in for an interview. Please remember that some people test very poorly, and if you sense that someone who did not test well might still be the right person, have them retest.

Part V - Interviewing and Hiring

Arrange for interviews to be at a time when all other team members will have a chance to spend some time getting to know the applicant.

Be very aware what questions you cannot legally ask, and make sure you do not ask them.

Be aware that if the applicant is coming to you through a work program, they have been coached on how to answer questions, and the answers may have been rehearsed.

The serious candidates will be asked to come into the office for a working interview. This means that they come and spend time in the office, so that they can see what a working office really is.

Put all job offers in writing and review the written office-policy manual with the potential candidate prior to their accepting the position. Handle any questions and concerns before they start.

Practice-Building Tip

Always send thank-you letters to the applicants who were not chosen, letting them know that you appreciate them taking the time to apply, and that you are ready to serve them and their families through chiropractic.

Be Open to the Possibilities!

Twenty-four years ago, I needed a job, and the unemployment office sent me to a chiropractic office to apply for a receptionist position. I did not have a résumés, I did not know what a chiropractor was (my father was a surgeon and my mother was a social worker at a large major hospital), and I could not even pronounce the word chiropractic. After a two-and-a-half-hour interview process, I was hired. I remember Dr. Alwyn Sykes explaining what chiropractic was and how I got goose bumps. I knew that this is what health care was meant to be.

The moral of my story is that when it comes to hiring a chiropractic assistant, you never know who will be the one, so approach each applicant with an open mind.

"A job is something you do for money. A career is something you do because you have an inner calling to do it. You want to do it. You love doing it. You're excited when you do it. And you'd do it even if you were paid nothing beyond food and basics. You'd do it because it's your life."

~ Denis Waitley

Lisa Bilodeau, CA
Scotts Valley, California

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