Creating a generational value system around the concept of spinoneural hygiene is essential for the growth of chiropractic. I am convinced that, for chiropractic to move forward and establish its rightful place in the health care delivery system, we need to have a model that becomes an integral part of society’s overall value system.
The question that I pose first is: What is the perceived purpose of chiropractic from a societal standpoint, and what is its value based on that perception? You see, you can’t have one without the other. The intrinsic value of any product or service is based on its perceived purpose and the relative cost or ease of obtaining the product or service.
I believe that we are stuck in the quagmire of our own marketing and propaganda (not to mention the American Medical Association’s curriculum on quackery that was taught in schools, starting in 1964). We will get to that later in the series though.
You see, we as a profession grew from nothing more than an idea and a burning desire to the second largest health care system in the world in a period of time equal to, roughly, sixty-five years. The initial growth of chiropractic is the most amazing fact about the history of Chiropractic. Now, consider this: for all intents and purposes, we have not grown significantly since the 1960-70’s. Sure, we see more people, because there are more people here; but, statistically, and based on percentages, chiropractic has been in a holding pattern for decades.
It is very obvious why chiropractic stopped moving forward from it’s humble beginning as an obscure health care system deeply based in philosophy and supported by a set of thirty-three principles to where it is today: an ill-defined and divided profession without a common unifying voice or identity. The reason we have stopped growing is, in a large part, the effect of chiropractic’s shifting message of purpose—from one of health and wellness as it relates to the individual and the relationship of the spine and nervous system in the development and maintenance of potential, to one of consumerism and insurance benefits, relegating chiropractic’s purpose as one of a treatment modality for acute injury and symptomatic palliation. I believe that our reliance on the third-party system of reimbursement was the beginning of the end of the growth of our profession. I don’t think that insurance benefits are a bad thing; I think that our sole reliance on the insurance and third party pay system is a bad thing. For chiropractic to grow from where it is today to where we could, should and would have been, we need to go back to the fundamentals or the truth about chiropractic—where we explain that, yes, chiropractic adjustments are a safe and effective program of care for the short term acute care needs of a sick society; however, the chiropractic wellness model is not a sick care allopathic model of treating illness or injury, but a comprehensive wellness model that is defined by our philosophy, principles and, yes, even science. It is time to end this tiresome and loosing fight to gain market share in a sick care system and start highlighting our role as lifestyle and wellness coaches and mentors in our communities. We need to develop long term relationships of leadership from a societal, civic and health care perspective. Our founding fathers would ask for nothing more than for us to hold up our beloved profession and be proud to share it with the masses.
In the following segments of this series, I will be highlighting two different models that have been used by dentistry and medicine to very effectively shape the collective consciousness of society, and suggesting a model for chiropractic to do the same.
Dr. Slocum is a 1993 graduated of Logan College in St. Louis Missouri. He is a fourth generation chiropractor, the eleventh member of his family to practice chiropractic.
Dr. Slocum and his partner Rok A. Morin, D.C., are co-creators of Learning Curves™, a three-tier community education and marketing program for the chiropractic profession. Dr’s Slocum and Morin lecture on a national basis to chiropractors encouraging them to spread awareness of chiropractic in their communities. Go to www.learningcurves.us, e-mail [email protected] or call (800) 613-2528 for more information.