Dr. Erika Kuehnel
Dr. Erika Kuehnel

Your Board Candidates Answer Three Townhall Questions

1. What do you think is currently the most important opportunity (or highest priority) for the chiropractic profession in Ontario and why?

The Ministry of Health seems to be indicating that they’re open to looking at a review of scope of practice for health care professionals, in light of the drive to create new emergency/provisional registration categories to address healthcare shortages. This is potentially an opportunity to re-open the discussion around expanded scope of practice for chiropractors in Ontario, specifically the right to order diagnostic ultrasound and advanced imaging (for MSK diagnoses) and limited prescribing rights. Considering the number of Ontarians without access to a family doctor, and the utilization of inefficient forms of healthcare delivery, such as hospital-based care for non-emergent situations as a result, chiropractors offer a potentially cost-effective alternative to ensure Ontarians are able to access healthcare services in a timely fashion. We see our patients on an ongoing basis and are able to provide a more appropriate assessment of whether or not a patient requires some of these additional diagnostic services other than a walk-in/urgent care facility/hospital ED. Appropriate Guidelines around this access to additional services (such as those we see in the Rapid Access Clinics, or defined prescribing rights for pharmacists) would help to ensure these services are provided within our defined scope, and adhere to an efficient use of publicly funded resources.

2. What do you think is the most important role OCA can play during the next three years?

The OCA has long been an incredible advocate for chiropractors in Ontario. Continued advocacy for integration in our publicly funded system and supports to help community-based chiropractors to better collaborate with publicly funded processes and facilities, even when their services are delivered on a Fee For Service basis, will help to further solidify our role as MSK experts in the healthcare landscape in the future. In my 15 years as a chiropractor, I have seen an increased number of innovative projects that integrate chiropractors in all areas of the healthcare system and significant increases in our cultural authority, particularly with the medical profession. As the system moves toward team-based care, communicating our successes in these projects and the value we can deliver when we are involved in managing nMSK complaints is essential to the future of the profession.

3. What key difference do you want to make during your tenure on the OCA Board of Directors (for 2024-2027)?

I feel that the current direction of the association is excellent. There is respect for a variety of approaches in practice, with support for always adhering to evidence informed best practices. I believe the OCA supports its members effectively and I would seek to work with the existing board and the established strategic plan. I would like to build on the groundwork laid so far to further establish chiropractors as neuromusculoskeletal and spine care experts, now and in the years to come.

Biographical Profile

Why did you become a chiropractor?

Chiropractic really spoke to be because of my love for anatomy and neuroanatomy. I did my undergraduate at Queens in Life Sciences. I focused my education on anatomy, neuroanatomy and physiology. I had difficulty imagining myself working in a research capacity. I saw myself working with people in a clinical capacity. I volunteered at Kingston General Hospital making positioning aids in the OT/PT department. I considered pursuing a career in physiotherapy, but my interest in the spine and neurology made chiropractic a better fit. I toured CMCC and it was then that the students won me over. It was such a collegial atmosphere. Everyone seemed quite supportive of one another, and their ideas about what practice would look like were more in line with my own vision of where I saw myself working.
The idea that chiropractic would allow me to marry my interest in neuroanatomy with clinical practice, while still offering a fair amount of autonomy was very appealing.

Where do you practise?

I have owned and operated a multi-disciplinary clinic in Milton since 2013.
Since April 2022, I have also worked for the WSIB’s clinical expert line, providing support to community-based health care providers treating patients in the Program of Care funding model.
I have been an advanced practice provider with a Rapid Access Clinic for Low Back Pain for the past five years, participating in an innovative and collaborative program, fully funded by OHIP, that provides access to thorough Musculoskeletal assessment, treatment advice and surgical triage for patients with low back pain.

What is your motto or mantra?

“Whatever you do, do it with care and attention”. I encourage my staff to work with care and intention, and that helps to solve most problems.

Credentials and Designations

  • Honours B.Sc.H, Queens University, 2003
  • D.C., Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, 2007
  • Contemporary Medical Acupuncture, McMaster, 2007
  • RMT, 2007

Leadership Engagement

What skills will you bring to the board?

I have sat for the last three years on the board of directors for the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario. This has given me firsthand experience on a board that represents a health care association. I have a wide variety of practice experiences, including solo practice, multidisciplinary clinics, and mobile/in home practice. I now run my own multidisciplinary clinic with 10 healthcare providers. I have an excellent understanding of working with WSIB, motor vehicle insurance and extended health insurers/direct billing. This helps me to appreciate the issues surrounding these factors that affect chiropractic practice, and their impact on our members’ success.

Do you now or have you served on any other boards?

Yes, I’ve served on the board for the Registered Massage Therapists’ Association of Ontario. My term on that board ends in January 2024.

Do you volunteer in your community generally and/or for the profession specifically?

I have previously volunteered with the OCA Advocacy Program (now called the Local Leaders program) and was a member of the OCA’s Return to Practice Working Group throughout the pandemic. I have also volunteered with my local hospital foundation to put on yearly fundraising gala, with our local Relay for Life, as a Girl Guide leader and as a parent volunteer in the Reading Boost program at my children’s school.
My current volunteer commitments include serving as an examiner for the Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board, and volunteering on the RMTAO board. I’ve also started volunteering to provide instruction in the University of Toronto Medical School program on low back assessments and I sit on the Program Advisory Committee for the Massage Therapy Program at Humber College.
Taking part in this rally has made me more mindful of the stigma that still exists for certain patient populations. It’s also reminded me of the power that we, as chiropractors have to provide treatment and comfort and the connection that this creates with our patients. To see interns recognize this early on in their training is very powerful. It’s also a great opportunity for them to get involved with a community partner so they can learn early on about the value of engaging with local community organizations.