Alison is a Chiropractor living and working in Orange, New South Wales. Alison tells us about her typical day and the range of service she provides. It is a busy practice with a range of clients who could be farmers, health workers or miners. Alison discusses that the role Chiropractors can play in the health care team is not well understood. Alison also highlights the importance of having a good working relationship with the local General Practitioners to get referrals and be included as part of the client’s multidisciplinary team.
Alison’s story also shows how you need to be flexible in how and when you deliver your service, adapting your work schedule to accommodate the community’s needs.
The people in Orange are fortunate because access to chiropractic services across Australia is an issue, as there, not many of them. As is the case for most allied health services, the further away you go from a major city the more the access decreases. But this is particularly the case for chiropractors as there is half the number of chiropractors available to provide their services. To give you some idea of the difference, in major cities there are 17/100,000 Chiropractors but in Remote or Very remote areas its 8/100,000 and 5/100,000 respectively.
But it’s a two way thing, Alison gets a lot of personal satisfaction out of providing chiropractic services for her local community.
My typical day begins in the clinic at 7:30am - many regular clients seeking treatment before work and some may have just finished a night shift and on their way home to bed. As the morning continues, I will see a number of parents after the school drop off.
A late lunch is scheduled so I can still treat patients during their own lunch hour, returning to see the after-school clients. The day continues until usually around 7pm as many people prefer an after-work treatment. Throughout the day we are also lucky enough to meet 2 or 3 new clients.
I provide chiropractic adjustments. However, within my scope of practice I will be perform spinal x-rays of patients to get a full understanding of their spines condition, some clients may require postural or rehabilitation taping to assist in their recovery. I also prescribe an exercise program to encourage flexibility and strengthening. As a registered health practitioner, I may also provide lifestyle advice for patients.
Working in a regional/rural area provides challenges that can affect business both positively and negatively. The highs and lows associated with farming can impact on the business. Many people who work on the land benefit from chiropractic but will find it difficult to get to appointments as it takes them away from farming duties or at times just can’t afford it despite their need. We also see people who work in the mining industry and it can be difficult to sustain a schedule of care as they work long shifts and may be sent away to work so often there is an expectation to be able to provide a miracle fix for a long standing issue in only a treatment or two.
Another challenge I find is that often GP’s do not consider chiropractic as their first port of call for treating low back pain, offering a short-term solution pain relief where chiropractic, in many cases, provides drug free relief by looking at the cause of symptoms.
Dealing with some challenges has been difficult our clinic is open long hours so there is a wide choice of times, we try to keep in contact with clients, so they know that we are available to continue to see them when they are ready. We also have a thankyou voucher where upon referring a new client, existing clients will get a discount on their next treatment. We have seen some clients refer enough people that they were able to enjoy a ‘free’ treatment.
If clients are not in a position to come as regularly as recommended, we try to really educate them on how to avoid injury and minimise harm between treatments and provide them with some home-based exercise.
Working with GP’s involves communicating with them regarding the type of treatments provided and the outcomes that have been assessed during treatment, and of course clients reporting positive outcomes back to the doctor is great!
Having worked in Sydney in both the CBD and inner west I love rural because of the diverse range of people you meet who all have such different stories to share with you and so many really appreciate they can get treatment for something that impacts their enjoyment daily life.