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Women DCs Preparing for the Future of the Profession

Monday, August 7, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Robin M. Ackerman, DC, DICCP
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Women DCs Preparing for the Future of the Profession

 

Chiropractic is one of the fastest growing professions in the U.S., and with the growing need for female DCs, there are ways we can prepare within our profession. This article will explore ideas about ways we can encourage female DCs currently in our profession, as well as encourage students joining the field of chiropractic.

 

When I started Palmer College of Chiropractic 20 years ago, there was a small female population at the school; now, according to Palmer.edu, it has grown to 35-42 percent or more female students at its three campuses. This is encouraging on many fronts, as we serve a population that is demanding diversity and equality in care.

 

Considering the rapid growth in popularity of natural health and with increased longevity, there has never been a better time to plan for the future of the female DC.  However, although the statistics regarding the ratio of female students in chiropractic colleges is very encouraging, as a whole the profession shows a lower number of female DCs. The chiropractic profession has 19.6 % of employed chiropractors who are women, according to the United States Department of Labor. This is a large discrepancy when compared to the allopathic medical field. In a study in the Journal of Chiropractic Education titled, “Diversity in the Chiropractic Profession: Preparing for 2050,” medical graduates in 2009 were 48.8 percent female, whose patients were 50 percent female, while chiropractic graduates were only 22.4 percent female, whose patients were 60 percent female.

 

The growth of social media has created a support system among female DCs. which has allowed a conversation about the unique trials of being a female DC. The realistic challenges of juggling a busy practice, employees, finances, bearing and raising children, plus working full time, can become overwhelming. Social media groups have allowed for daily support in a time when the female DC may lack local support in the chiropractic community or among family members. I hope that this article can be a call to further open lines of support to the female DC in our own local chiropractic communities.

 

The following is a list of seven ways in which I believe we can improve collaboration and support of female DCs, and, therefore, the entire chiropractic profession: 

 

1.) Mentorship

Mentorship can begin with talking to our young patients that may become the future female DC. Sometimes telling your pediatric patients about the profession and showing them how rewarding helping others can be is enough to create a future DC career path. These same patients will later come back over the years as you offer mentorship as they continue into a career of chiropractic. There are online forums, management groups, alumni events, association meetings and conferences where the opportunity to mentor a woman DC or student may come into play. The female DCs currently in our profession can meet locally or at conferences to share wisdom or struggles and to offer insight. A wonderful group is starting at www.womenchiropractors.org to offer mentorship and resources for the female DC. These successful female DCs are taking the lead to help change our profession.

 

2.) Impactful teaching

Our chiropractic colleges and conference leaders are taking notice of the increasing numbers of female DCs. The teaching of how to balance family and work is important to the future of our profession. Chiropractic is an interesting field in that not only is the chiropractor a professional but also a business owner, in many cases. Accepting that being the biggest and best clinic is not for everyone, especially if you are also raising little ones, can be helpful for all chiropractic physicians. Supportive multi-physician groups that allow for family time and realize that.  Despite greater equality in gender roles in recent years, in some homes the female DC is juggling full time practice and fulltime parenting, including the majority of chores, child care and family responsibility. There are many female DCs that graduate from school and do not practice in the field because of child care or a lack of support.

 

A female DC leader may offer insight, encouragement, suggestions and ideas for how to balance competing demands; thus, there is a growing need for more female DC leaders at our conferences and schools.

 

3.) Balancing act

If you ask a full time, working mom how to balance work and family, you will probably get a laugh as a response. In my case, I opened my practice as a single mom of a 3-year old and worked 50-60-hour weeks for several years. Now it is a time where I can step back and work more efficiently in less time with a growing practice. As a mom of two boys, now 17 and 7, time is different and priorities are different. The house may not be perfectly clean, and you may have to realize you cannot grow your practice as quickly. It is doing the best that you can while really seeing great things in your patients and in your family. The rewards are great when you can accept that balance is challenging as a working mom, and that is okay. The importance of self-care with a busy life is important for anyone, but especially the working chiro mom. Whether you have children or are planning a family, when you are a caretaker of your patients and your kids, time for yourself is key. This may be exercise, prayer/meditation, eating well, rest, time in nature, scheduling your own chiropractic appointments, etc.

 

4.) Delegation

As you become more comfortable as a DC, you will realize the more patients you see, the less time you have for extra activities. Make a list of the simple things that take your time that you do not need to do. At home, it may be a dry cleaning pick up service, house cleaner, meal prep company, online groceries or delegating chores to your family. At work, it may be hiring a staff member who can make your life easier by handling non-patient care related tasks.

 

5.) Ergonomic education for the female DC

During my second pregnancy, I had a breech positioning of my son. I later found out through colleagues that frequent adjusting of patients in a side posture position results in torqueing of the uterus that has led many pregnant DCs to have breech positioning. We are taught about our patients and how to help them with ergonomics in their work place, but there is a lack in research or education for the chiropractic practitioner. It is difficult to gain disability insurance as a chiropractor, because we are in the same classification as construction workers for injuries. It would help lengthen the female DC’s time in the profession and hours worked to provide proper education on ergonomics and specific concerns with injury prevention.

 

6.) Finances

As we see the increased amount of cost for undergraduate and chiropractic education, financial knowledge will be an important element   of a DC’s education. Business management groups have a series of training just on finances. Graduating and then not practicing may bring great financial stress. DCs are better served by taking an associate position or opening a practice. Mentoring new graduates as associates alleviates their stress. Current DCs need to understand this new generation of DCs and create a positive, engaging and passionate work place where equal opportunities exist.

 

7.) Parenting

Chiropractors are amazing. The fact that a working female DC can adjust, run a business, pump breastmilk, pick up her child from day care, baby wear???, nurse, change a diaper, make homemade baby food, serve patients, make organic meals and stay healthy is pretty remarkable. Now, maybe this is not for everyone, but the juggling of natural parenting and running a full-time practice or working full time can become taxing. The b thing that helped me most was having focused time, no matter where I was in those young years. If you are with your kids, you are with your kids. If you are at the practice, you are at the practice. Of course, there are times they intermingle, but focused energy will help you to get value in where you are. Also, thinking outside of the box is helpful, such as taking your lunch break to go on a picnic with your child before returning your child back to the sitter. Another example is to condense your schedule, so that during the first several years of your child’s life, you can have certain days or parts of days out of the office. The more present you are, wherever that may be, the more you get accomplished, and a more condensed patient schedule may work out just as well.

 

With these seven ideas to improve the future of the female DC, it must be said that each person has her own dream and goals. Encouragement and support for each female DC’s vision and goals will help us grow as a profession. If we can learn one thing from the medical field, it is that the patients that come in will dictate the future of our practitioners. With 60 percent of our patient base being female, the profession is seeing a growth in many of the schools. The caring profession needs more employed female DCs. With awareness comes growth, and the future of seeing more successful women DCs serving others through chiropractic is ahead.

 

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