According to a 2004 Harris poll, scientists tied with doctors as the most prestigious professionals among US adults. Both scored a 52 percent rating (52 percent of the people polled said these two professions enjoyed “very great prestige”). Interestingly, doctors’ rating slipped nine points over the 2003 poll. Although the poll didn’t specify “medical doctors,” we can assume that most people had them in mind when they took the survey. We can also assume that “doctors of chiropractic” would have scored somewhat below “lawyer” or “journalist” had we been included as a separate category.
Our prestige and credibility will only be enhanced as people come to associate chiropractic with science. Once that mental link is made, chiropractors move into the realm of scientists and researchers and enjoy the built-in esteem and status that classification affords. On an individual basis, this means you need to reposition your office as a scientific practice and become involved in chiropractic research (and, naturally, publicize this involvement).
There are several ways to do this. You can become a published researcher by writing and submitting case histories to journals such as the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research, Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, European Journal of Chiropractic or the Journal of the Neuromusculoskeletal System. Case histories are in great demand and are relatively easy to write up and submit. They can make significant contributions to chiropractic research efforts—and being able to frame and display your own research article is a great prestige booster.
You can also give research-oriented presentations to community groups. Topics might include recent research findings, such as chiropractic’s potential for addressing infertility or the multiple studies showing the cost-effectiveness of chiropractic as opposed to medical treatment. You’ll need to become very familiar with the studies, however, since you’re likely to be asked numerous questions—including some from skeptics and chiropractic opponents.
Another way to position yourself as a scientist/researcher is to become a Research and Clinical Science Authorized Research Site and actively solicit volunteers for the RCS project. You’ll give them your normal examination (free of charge) and upload the data to the RCS database. Along with the results of an online “Self-Reported Quality of Life” study they’ll fill out at home, this data will be analyzed by the RCS International Scientific Advisory Panel, which will determine the direct and distinct correlations between subluxations and states of wellness.
With this data, RCS plans to provide the proof needed to validate chiropractic doctors’ roles as unique health care providers and silence, once and for all, detractors who say we don’t have the scientific evidence to support chiropractic. Yet, even before the data is analyzed and the papers published, you’ll have established yourself as a scientific, evidence-based practitioner—just by publicizing the fact that you’re an RCS Authorized Research Site. Volunteers won’t see you as “just a chiropractor” but, rather, as a scientist working to increase the store of knowledge that will make all people healthier and elevate the general level of wellness in the world. And, they’re very likely to want to become regular patients (especially since you’ll have had a chance to educate them about the benefits of chiropractic care).
By being involved in research, at whatever level you choose, you’ll do more than just increase your professional prestige and your practice volume. You’ll be contributing much needed research that will validate what you do. This is the most critical need facing the profession today and the one weakness our opponents always point out.
In 1987, in an article published in The Chiropractic Journal, Joseph Keating, Jr., Ph.D., director of research, Northwestern College of Chiropractic, said: “The development of chiropractic research will determine the credibility of the profession’s claim to be the masters of the science and art of spinal…care.” In the intervening 15 years, little substantive research has been done to actually enhance the profession’s credibility.
By thinking—and acting—as a scientist and researcher, as well as an educator and practitioner, you’ll find yourself in that enviable category of “most prestigious” professional.
Dr. Jackson is chief executive officer of Research and Clinical Science, a private sector research program exploring issues of subluxation correction and chiropractic care as they relate to health and wellness. Previously, he served as president of the Chiropractic Leadership Alliance and Creating Wellness Alliance and was owner/operator of several private practice offices in California and Idaho that specialized in high-volume, family wellnessbased care. For more information on RCS, call 800-909-1354 or 480-303-1694, or visit the RCS website at www.rcsprogram.com.