Celebrating women and the profession
Dr. Debbie Wright became the CCA’s Board of Directors Chair in 2020 – with Canada and the world in the midst of a pandemic. She could never have expected to be leading the CCA through these turbulent times. Chiropractors across the country endured closures, uncertainties and constantly changing circumstances. But CCA members rose to the occasion, showing an unwavering commitment to help Canadians live the healthy, pain-free lives they want.
“It was inspiring to see my fellow colleagues come together in their clinics, communities and on the CCA Members Facebook page,” says Dr. Wright. “We faced these challenges together, supporting each other every step of the way. I look forward to seeing our members move forward with the knowledge that there is a strong professional community behind them.”
On track: Implementing strategic plan
Although COVID-19 took precedence over many aspects of our lives, the board has maintained sight of the CCA’s priorities. The 2020-2023 Strategic Plan outlined three major goals that we continue to work toward:
- Become Canadians’ trusted healthcare profession for spine, muscle and nervous system problems and health
- Improve the healthcare system’s approach to spine, muscle and nervous system health
- Partner with the health benefits insurance sector to improve chiropractic coverage
A priority item was added in 2020: the CCA’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2020-2025 Action Plan. It is the best way for the profession to address systemic racism and discrimination. Our goal is to create an inclusive and equitable environment where patients, chiropractors, board directors, CCA staff and members of the public are valued for their differences.
“The pandemic only strengthened the Board’s resolve to pursue our strategic plan,” says Dr. Wright. “The last year has clearly shown how essential our care is to the health of Canadians and strengthened our resolve in promoting an inclusive culture for members and patients alike.”
Most notably, she is heartened by the overwhelming number of members who registered for the first round of training.
“I am proud that the CCA is leading the profession in addressing discrimination and systemic racism,” she says. “A more inclusive and welcoming culture will benefit prospective students, current students, practitioners, patients and the public. An inclusive practice is a successful one.”
While the effects of the pandemic will continue for the foreseeable future, Dr. Wright says chiropractors can be hopeful for the future.
“We’ve seen patients, insurance companies and government acknowledge the essential nature of our care ,” she says. “We will continue to build upon this momentum post-pandemic to ensure that every Canadian has a chiropractor as part of their health care team.
Overcoming gender-based obstacles
While more women than ever are entering the chiropractic profession, they still face obstacles. Dr. Debbie Wright says the biggest challenges are systemic: “Patients and the public have preconceived ideas about whether or not women are physically suited to do this job. Trust me, we are. Assuring people you are strong or experienced enough to do your job properly can be exhausting. Never mind the ubiquitous sexist remarks.”
Lack of maternity support also disproportionately affects women chiropractors. Maternity leave is often taken unpaid and the overhead costs of running a clinic don’t disappear. “Women tend to take on the primary childcare role, reducing practice hours during some of their highest income earning years,” she says. “This is also true in the COVID-era in which we find ourselves: with kids at home, women have dropped out of the workforce in greater numbers to stay home and care for children.”
While Dr. Wright says nobody can ever achieve the mythical work-life balance, she is able to minimize feelings of being overwhelmed. The most valuable lesson she’s learned as a woman, mother, partner and chiropractor/clinic-owner: “Set clear boundaries with yourself and others about your time and willingness to take on more. Don’t let inaccurate comments throw you off your game. Be confident in your expertise and abilities.”