Dr. Nardine Bekhit
Dr. Nardine Bekhit

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?

I see that there is a window of opportunity where the public is craving information on how their needs can be served by chiropractic care. Regardless of how one feels about social media, there is no denying that it is a powerful vehicle for change. We can either be part of the conversation or let others speak on our behalf and potentially misrepresent us. We have so many talented chiropractors in Ontario that are doing an outstanding job being an ambassador for chiropractic in their communities, both online and offline.
If we can engage members and support their success in this grassroots level of advocacy, I believe this would be an impactful way to influence change. From personal experience, I benefitted greatly from leaning on the resources of the OCA when I was creating my Ergonomics for Surgeons grand rounds presentation for ENT surgeons at the University of Ottawa. Unfortunately, not many members know that there is a communications team at the OCA that is able to provide feedback and support our outreach endeavours. I think we need to create outside-the-box opportunities for ourselves that are aligned with our individual interests and talents, but also recognize that our training as chiropractors doesn’t make us experts on some of the ancillary skills that we need to execute it. However, there are people with this skillset at the OCA who can fill this gap and are eager to help and we should ensure our members are benefitting from this resource.
In summary, I think, now more than ever, the public is primed to accept chiropractic as mainstream. Many people want real solutions, evidence-based education, and to optimize their wellness and quality of life. It’s up to us to capitalize on that opportunity and the ease of disseminating information to position ourselves as trusted health experts.

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

I believe the most important role would be to proactively build meaningful relationships with other healthcare advocacy bodies and educational institutions. I think we need to work towards having the wholehearted endorsement of the rest of the healthcare community as opposed to how it is currently, which is (at best) a very neutral stance that is centred on respecting patients’ ability to make autonomous decisions about who they engage in their healthcare team (this is important, but it doesn’t build confidence in chiropractic care). This is not to say we need validation from other healthcare professionals, but that it would benefit us to have as many pathways for referrals as possible. In my training for the Rapid Access Clinic, I had the opportunity to shadow spine surgeons during their clinic consults. What I observed was a clear and unwavering support for patients to seek care from physiotherapists for their back pain (even when patients complained about a poor experience!) and when surgeons were questioned about whether they should seek chiropractic care, they did not give the same endorsement. It is time to break down these barriers and misperceptions, and the OCA acts as a united voice to fill this role and represent the diversity of our profession.
I believe that the path forward involves as many programs as possible that allow chiropractors to engage with the medical community and allied health providers in a professional capacity. In Ottawa, we have some programming in place at the medical school. Two examples that come to mind are 1) mandatory observation for allied health practitioners, and 2) Interprofessional Education Day, a collaborative event between the University of Ottawa and CMCC. I have had the pleasure of being involved with both over the last few years and have been able to see the perspective shift in medical students and more openness to collaboration when they see the depth of our MSK understanding. I would love to see similar initiatives in place with the midwifery programs for those of us who have an interest in prenatal/postnatal chiropractic care.

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

Firstly, to build bridges within our own chiropractic associations and partners. All of us are working towards the same goal, and sometimes I see redundancy in the programming that each group is working to create. I feel that we can operate more efficiently if there was more collaboration, and it would make it less confusing for members for where they can look to for support. This would free up some of our resources to tackle other advocacy issues.
Secondly, I want to continue the work I started with the SCCA and OCA’s Student and New Grad Advisory Council to make a difference in accelerating the success of new graduates. I think this issue is complex and multifactorial and I am not satisfied with “business training” as the only answer.
Finally, we need to truly feel that the OCA is a heart-centred organization. To this effect, one idea that came from speaking to some members is that membership dues should honour the different phases of a chiropractor’s career, namely when returning to work after having a baby so that being an OCA member is not a source of financial hardship. I would like to see the OCA acknowledge the challenges of not having paid maternity leave. I think measures like this invest in building a positive long-term relationship with members and prove that the OCA exists to serve its members. The value of the OCA should be so apparent that it makes perfect sense for every chiropractor in Ontario to want to be a member for the entire duration of their career. Our profession is only as strong as our professional associations.

Biographical Profile

Why did you become a chiropractor?

A perfect storm of factors led me to a career in chiropractic. I had a passion for health and wellness, the inspiration to bring a high level of empathy into patient care, and I had a strong desire to be anything but ordinary. Chiropractic checked off all the boxes for me. As chiropractors, I feel like we all have a story, and we all get chosen into the profession. It’s not an easy path to take. The hardship that we go through both in our schooling and in our career builds our character and helps us to not only be exceptional clinicians, but incredible people. I’m proud to be a chiropractor and part of this community.

Where do you practise?

My main practice is Healthcare House, which is a family medicine clinic in Ottawa. I run my own practice there, but I also practise as the pediatric chiropractor at a multidisciplinary pediatric clinic called Play on Pediatric Therapy. I’m also an Advanced Practice Provider (APP) for the Rapid Access Clinic for Low Back Pain (RAC-LBP) through The Ottawa Hospital – and I’ll officially be taking patients through the RAC-LBP in November 2023.

What is your motto or mantra?

“Energy flows where intention goes.”

Credentials and Designations

  • Webster Certification, 2022
  • Thompson Technique Certification, 2019
  • D.C., Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), 2018
  • B.Sc., Biomedical Science, Bilingual Certification in French and English, University of Ottawa, 2014

Leadership Engagement

What skills will you bring to the board?

One of the key skills that I bring is my connections in the medical community, both professionally and personally. I position that as a skill because I’ve seen how many people end up getting lost in the medical system. They’re often dealing with issues that we know we can address as chiropractors. I hope to be part of building a bridge for strong interprofessional collaboration so that chiropractic can be less of an untapped resource and more of the first line of care for MSK issues. I also bring a genuine passion to leave this profession better than I received it. I’ve seen how the advocacy of the OCA and CCA has helped bring the profession to a better place than when I started, and I want to be part of that work. My hope is that each graduating class after me has less of an uphill battle building themselves up. I understand that we are only as strong as our advocacy bodies. So, we need to create more value and buy-in for early career chiropractors so that they’ll want to continue to be a member for the duration of their career because they see how their association supports them in their professional growth and increasing the utilization rate of chiropractic care in Ontario.

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

I currently serve as secretary on the board of the Federation of Medical Women of Canada (FMWC). I’ve been on the board via their Ottawa branch since 2019. This experience provides me with exposure to the medical community in Ottawa and the opportunity to build genuine relationships and an understanding of their environment to see where we can build bridges.
I was part of the initial cohort of the OCA Student and New Grad Advisory Council when it launched in 2019 and have served on that Council until 2023. During my time at CMCC, I was involved with Student Canadian Chiropractic Association (SCCA) and was SCCA president in my fourth year. I also served on CMCC Students’ Council as Vice President, Academic. I am grateful to have had leadership experiences on multiple boards over the last 6 years.

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

I volunteer with the OCA Local Leaders program. I also volunteer with CMCC every year by assessing admissions interviews and helping to shape the future of the profession in that sense. I also volunteer with CMCC’s OSCE’s for students and interns, and volunteer with the CCEB’s OSCE as a standardized patient.
In the community, one of my goals has been to be an ambassador for chiropractic to health care professionals. So, I do a lot of free lunch-and-learn presentations in local dental offices talking about spinal health and ergonomic advice specific to the needs of dental clinicians, and have had virtual speaking engagements on this subject at dental schools across the US thanks to the community I’ve built via Instagram. I have also had the privilege of lecturing at a grand rounds presentation for the University of Ottawa’s ENT department on ergonomics for surgeons. These presentations involve educating clinicians on what they can do to help offset the MSK stress of their work environment. I have enjoyed getting to build connections in my community through this work and put a positive light on our profession worldwide.