Interview with David S. O’Bryon, Executive Director, Association of Chiropractic Colleges

David O’Bryon , J.D., LL.D (Hon), F.I.C.C., is founder and president of O’Bryon & Company. With more than thirty years of association and government experience, he has served organizations as an executive, consultant, and volunteer. His responsibilities have included policy formulation and implementation for associations; design and management of membership recruitment efforts; development and implementation of government relations strategies and public affairs programs; volunteer and staff recruitment; designing, writing and editing communications/publications; and administrative management of budgeting and financial oversight. He registered as a lobbyist before the U.S. Congress in 1980 and has been involved in virtually all the major federal legislative initiatives for the chiropractic profession since that time. He has served as Executive Director of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC) since 1996.

Mr. O’Bryon is a Certified Association Executive (CAE). The Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards honored him last year with its Presidential Leadership Award.

In an interview with The American Chiropractor (TAC), Mr. David O’Bryon tells us about the ACC and it’s part in helping achieve progress for the chiropractic profession.

TAC: Dr. O’Bryon, give us some background on the Association of Chiropractic Colleges.

O’Bryon: The ACC was formed in 1988 and was the successor of the organization known as the Association of Chiropractic College Presidents. As the organizing document stated, “The specific purpose of the corporation is to provide an opportunity to have a cooperative base whereby chiropractic colleges may participate together in pursuit of the most effective practices and concepts for the academic, clinical and continuing education of students and practitioners of chiropractic, including the funding of educational offerings, research efforts and general operational concerns.” The board is comprised of the chief executive officer of the institution or a designee. Individually, the chiropractic colleges are working to strengthen their institutions. ACC’s current president, Dr. Carl Cleveland III of Cleveland Chiropractic Colleges–Kansas City and Los Angeles, has witnessed the changes and noted that chiropractic educational institutions have grown and strengthened and that is reflected in the major capital improvements of our campuses. The most recent example is Cleveland Chiropractic College–KC, which has just completed a move to a new campus. We have seen a number of new technology state of the art buildings added to our campuses.


TAC: Tell us about your position and your responsibilities. 

O’Bryon: From 1988 to 1996 the ACC was administered by the president of the association and his/her institution. In 1996, the ACC leaders hired me as its first Executive Director. The position’s responsibilities include oversight of the association’s everyday activities and budget along with its programs and outreach as the association’s chief staff officer. I have represented the profession in Washington, D.C., since 1980. Previously, I worked for the United States Congress.

TAC: What are ACC’s goals for the chiropractic profession?

O’Bryon: The ACC’s goals are to further chiropractic education, advance research and enhance the profession.

TAC: How do the ACC’s actions affect or impact the already practicing DC’s?

O’Bryon: The ACC schools want to help their graduates succeed and want to help create job opportunities. The ACC has been directly involved in advancing chiropractic as a service in the United States Armed Forces and in the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. A further example is the ACC’s CVA DVD that seeks to inform, update and educate the field on important research and public safety issues.

TAC: What are the most pressing issues facing chiropractic education currently?

O’Bryon: The health care delivery system is changing and the educational community must be training the next generation of practitioners for that new environment. We are currently evaluating educational outcomes and that will impact our future curriculums.

TAC: What are the latest projects the ACC has been involved in?

O’Bryon: The ACC is just completing an Informed Consent document that outlines the elements that should be included in such a document. We are also working to develop an educational template containing the elements for training chiropractic office workers and assistants. The ACC is sponsoring an educational conference with the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) in Beijing in November at the World Health Organization (WHO) meeting.

TAC: The ACC/RAC (Research Agenda Conference) meeting was held this past March 13-15, 2008, in Washington, DC. What is the purpose of this conference?

O’Bryon: Each year the ACC sponsors an educational conference designed to improve and enhance the various institutional departments as well as advance the educational system itself. The abstracts of the peer reviewed papers and posters that are presented are then published in the Journal on Chiropractic Education. The educational conference was joined with the Research Agenda Conference a number of years ago and the ACC/RAC conference has become the premier educational event in the profession. Speakers come from around the world to discuss the most recent advances in research.

TAC: Can you tell us ACC’s recent plans to increase/develop the chiropractic relationships with other health care providers?

O’Bryon: One of the most exciting developments is the participation of chiropractic programs and their students with the Department of Veterans Affairs. ACC was a prime supporter of the Congressional law that authorized the service. At the time the chiropractic program in the VA was initiated, the then VA Secretary said all colleges should develop a working relationship with his agency. I think that integrative health care is the future and we are working to train the next generation of chiropractors to be prepared for professional interaction. I currently am serving in my second year as president of the Federation of Schools of the Allied Health Professions, a Washington, D.C. based federation comprised of over a dozen of the associations of all the major health disciplines, The Federation of Associations of Schools of the Health Professions (FASHP). The organization is working together to advance health care education and cooperation. Also the ACC worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop WHO’s guidelines on international growth of chiropractic education.

TAC: Any highlights regarding the research promoted by the ACC that has taken place in the last two years?

O’Bryon: We continue to work on a number of fronts. The colleges are working to strengthen their resources and have been successful with obtaining competitive federal grants. One example is the recent study about chiropractic reducing blood pressure; it bears further study as the profession offers great promise in a number of areas.

TAC: What is the biggest problem or challenge you see in the chiropractic profession today?

O’Bryon: The ACC is starting a new centralized application service for the chiropractic schools. We are entering a new ground with a common purpose that will help prospective students find their way to chiropractic. We want to create a process that starts by helping students enter chiropractic education to successfully launching them on to their career path, be that as clinicians, academicians or researchers. The health care delivery system is a changing one and giving today’s student the necessary skills and training to evolve and thrive in an integrative system that is directed at patient care is the challenge.

TAC: Where do you see the future of chiropractic headed?

O’Bryon: I think we are at the tipping point for chiropractic to surge forward. We need to embrace the demographic and cultural changes that are upon us. The profession needs to reach out and be inclusive. Also the baby boom generation wants to remain strong and active without drugs, so chiropractic’s conservative care should be quite popular. Professional and Olympic athletes have discovered chiropractic and that is a testament to our care. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook reports a strong need for chiropractors with a growth of 14 percent for chiropractic.

TAC: Any final words for our readers?

O’Bryon: Keep recommending those outstanding students to chiropractic institutions!

You may contact David O’Bryon at [email protected].


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