So You Want to Work in a Chiropractic Office?

One great option for licensed massage therapists is a career working in a chiropractic physician's office or chiropractic clinic.

Barbara Berg, LMT, has been a massage therapist for 10 years. She graduated from Dahan Institute of Massage Studies in Las Vegas, Nevada, and found her first job at the Flamingo Hilton spa. When she first moved to Chicago, she worked in a suburban health spa. Soon afterwards, however, she found a job as a massage therapist at the Holland Chiropractic Center in Westmont, Illinois, where she has worked for 9 years.

Chiropracticoffice1"There are a lot of advantages to working in a chiropractic office versus a spa," says Barb. "First, scheduling is very different. In a spa, you are doing half-hour or full hour massages all day long with only a five-minute break in between. It's very hard on your wrists. In a chiropractic office, it's very different. Usually you are doing 10-15 minute massages with a variety of other tasks in between, such as ultrasound or physical therapy modalities, or setting up electric stimulation treatments. Your main task during this short massage is to relax the patient before the doctor sees them so that they get a better adjustment. You also take care of them after their adjustment until they leave, serving as a chiropractic assistant."

Barb not only works as a massage therapist at the Holland Chiropractic Center, but she is in charge of hiring and supervising other massage therapists and interns who work there. She explains that the pay is different than in a spa. "In a spa, it's attractive to think that you'll charge $80-$100 an hour and that you'll get to keep half of that. However, business can be very sporadic in a spa, and you'll have to get your own clients. Also, you never know what your pay will be from week to week."

"In a chiropractic office, you'll earn a smaller hourly wage, but that can include benefits, bonuses, retirement or profit-sharing, and you'll know exactly what you're taking home every week. You won't have to find your own clients, and you'll get paid whether the patients show up or not. Another benefit is that you can work regular business hours. In a spa, you'll have to work evenings and every weekend. That type of schedule is hard on your social life and doesn't work for some people, especially if they have families."

Barb says that her clinic offers her other benefits, like low-cost chiropractic care for her family. She can also use the clinic facilities after hours to give full half-hour or hour massages to clinic clients who request them, keeping 50% of what she earns. "Having my weekends and evenings free also let's me do private massages for friends and outside clients if I want to," says Barb.

If you're interested in a massage position at a chiropractic clinic, be prepared to write "SOAP" (Subjective - Objective - Assessment - Plan) notes in the doctor's medical charts for each patient. You'll need solid training in medical terminology and the ability to interact professionally in a medical environment.Chiropracticoffice2

Dr. Thomas Wheatley, chiropractic physician and National University of Health Sciences grad, uses massage therapists in both his Naperville and Aurora, Illinois, offices. "The massage therapists that come from National are probably the best I've come across. They know their anatomy. When I talk to students from other schools, I always have to ask whether they've passed their licensing exams. With students from National, it's almost a foregone conclusion.""

The muscular tissue work that massage therapists do complements what we as DCs do so well," says Dr. Wheatley. "They're an integral part of our physical medicine team."