Careers Week – Life as a Chiropractor

Interview with Daniel Heritage

Daniel Heritage holds a number of roles at AECC University College. He teaches across year groups on the Chiropractic programmes that we offer and works as a Senior Clinical Tutor in our on-site Chiropractic Clinic.

He is also responsible for Safeguarding across all of our Clinics here at the University College and is our Data Protection Officer. In addition to this, he works for the General Chiropractic Council, which regulates Chiropractors in the UK.

Daniel tells us more about his career so far and how varied and interesting a career in Chiropractic can be:

Becoming a Chiropractor

“I was fortunate that I knew quite early on that I wanted to go into healthcare. My mother was a Senior Nurse and so I had an awareness of healthcare as a profession. I thought about going into Physiotherapy or Medicine.

“It was when I started to receive Chiropractic care myself at the age of 16 that I knew I wanted to pursue it as a profession. My Chiropractor was really encouraging and invited me to do some observations in his clinic. This gave me a chance to see what it was really like to work as a Chiropractor.

“I came for an Open Day at AECC University College and made the decision to apply for the Master of Chiropractic degree course.  

“This is quite a common experience for people who train in Chiropractic: we often find that they have experienced treatment themselves.

“When I graduated I went into full-time private practice and did that for six years. I worked as an associate within Clinics and also had my own Clinic. I went on to work at AECC University College for a couple of days a week.

“Over the years, I worked more and more at AECC University College, although I do still see patients. I teach across the year groups on the Chiropractic programmes and am also a Senior Tutor in our on-site clinic. A big part of my role is supporting final year students in the management of their patients. I oversee treatment and have overall responsibility for the patient’s care.”

Safeguarding

“I’m the Clinical Safeguarding Lead for all Clinical Services at AECC University College. This includes our Chiropractic, Ultrasound and MRI Clinics.

“Safeguarding is about ensuring that patients are safe from a clinical perspective but also raising concerns about patients who are at risk from neglect or abuse from outside. I perform a risk assessment and inform social services and other agencies if referrals are needed. I also train students and staff on safeguarding.”

General Chiropractic Council

“The General Chiropractic Council (GCC) is the UK regulator for Chiropractic. All Chiropractors are registered with the GCC by law. Their rules and regulations are set out by statute by the Government. They have the same kind of role as the General Medical Council, which oversees and regulates medical professionals.

“In my first year of clinical practice, I started working for the GCC. My role dealt with regulation within Chiropractic and I’m still involved with this now. I sat on the Professional Conduct Committee for eight years, which deals with cases of alleged unprofessional conduct. The Committee makes decisions about whether the allegations are found proved or not.

“When my term of service came to an end, I was appointed on to the Investigation Committee which I still sit on now. Various people can make complaints about Chiropractors: it might be a patient, a member of the public or another health professional. Complaints can be made to the Chiropractor directly or to the GCC.

“The GCC has a legal duty to investigate any complaint that is made. Once initial investigation has been done, this is reviewed by the Investigation Committee. When complaints come in, I assess with others the initial evidence and decide whether or not there is a case to answer.

“I also work as a test of competence Chairperson and Assessor, dealing with Chiropractors who have studied and graduated outside of the UK who want to come and work in the UK. They undergo a test of competence to assess whether or not they meet the standards to register in the UK.

“Finally, I am also an Education Visitor. I help to oversee the various educational programmes in the UK for Chiropractic. I work with others and recommend approval and ensure they are compliant with standards of the GCC.

“I also sit on the Royal College of Chiropractors PRT committee. The PRT Programme has been designed to help new graduates evolve into independent health professionals once they graduate.

 “There are so many avenues that your career can go down as a Chiropractor.”

Career options for Chiropractors

“When you graduate, you can go into private practice, which is the route that lots of people take. It’s common for this to be the first part of your career as a Chiropractor. You can be employed by a Clinic, or work as a self-employed associate within a Clinic.

“After a couple of years, many graduates go on to set up their own practice. This gives you the opportunity to become your own boss and you might take on other Chiropractors, health professionals and reception staff. You become a business owner as well as a health professional. This is a whole other skillset that you’ll develop.”

Skills of a Chiropractor

“I think, similar to any health professional, you need to have a caring personality: a good bed-side manner is very hard to teach and you need that to work with patients effectively. You also need a desire to learn and to keep learning throughout your career. As a Chiropractor, you’ve got to be continually updating your knowledge and your practice. There’s always something new.”

Advice

“Go for it! Being a Chiropractor is a great and rewarding career. It’s a challenging course and a challenging career – and a very satisfying one. The majority of Chiropractors stay in the profession: usually once you’re a Chiropractor, you’re a Chiropractor for life.”

Above: Daniel Heritage