It is fair to say that there is division in the profession; there has been for some time and unfortunately there may be for a while yet. Whether we, as a profession, disagree and debate philosophy, technique, communication styles, practice styles, or something else entirely, some things are certain: there is definitely more that unifies us than defies us, we have survived worse, and there is always more we can do.
One beautiful aspect about chiropractic that has always set us apart is this pursuit of the cause of a problem. Why is it there and what brought it on? Whether we are seeking to find and explain the reason someone has back pain, or the dysafferentation of his or her nervous system resulting in a reduced perception of their environment, it is a lot easier to help create a state of change when we know what the problem is in the first place.
It is difficult to know where we are going when we don’t even know who we are to begin with. With division affecting the profession’s identity, there is a massive identity crisis with those in the early, formative time in the profession. So helping students and new graduates out not only in their chiropractic education, but creating an environment where they can help develop their own identity as a chiropractor, will be crucial for the future of the profession. From the observations of many chiropractors, including myself, especially those running events with students or hiring new graduates, there seems to be a large disconnect; a gap in chiropractic life vs professional life, between expectations and reality, even a disconnect in their own belief of the potential of chiropractic and the power of an adjustment.
So with a narrow or limited mindset, of course there will be problems. When beliefs dictate your behaviours or actions, and those actions determine a certain result, and that result confirms the original belief, starting with a limited or negative thought process sets you up for a downward spiral that can be hard to get out of. However shifting a belief system to explore the possibilities, thinking of health from an above down, inside out model, acknowledging the adjustment creates changes in the brain and through the entire body, and that health is best acquired and kept when the nervous system is free of interference, all this will result in different behaviours, which by extension will create different results, which in turn will help re-confirm that original belief system. As the saying goes, whether you think you can, or can’t, you are right. But it all starts with that belief and mindset; working on what is above atlas.
It goes without saying that students and new graduates are the future of the profession, and it is also understandable to an extent why they may not be exposed to some of these ideas at a university based chiropractic school. There is a lot to cover in 5 years at an Australian school, and when research is the currency of influence in these institutions, building a research base is paramount. But what can we do whilst we still work tirelessly to build that evidence base supporting what we do? We need to address the disconnect. Between students and chiropractors, schools and the profession. And I think it is up to us, as chiropractors, to take those first steps in bridging that gap. Chiropractic schools should have two main goals; teach students to be safe, competent doctors, but also to help them recognise 5 years of education will not make someone a master, or anything close to a master, so the school must also encourage a love of future learning; to help students pursue learning, whether with further education (in the above mentioned technique, philosophy, communication or practice styles that we all debate) or easier, spending time with chiropractors who are already close to mastery in those areas. And many of these chiropractors practice and live more than just a few hours from a major city of the university campus, and there is an unfortunate reality of a further disconnect between city and country, where students and new graduates aren’t even aware, or worse, are aware but do not want to consider working alongside some brilliant chiropractors, purely because it is slightly rural.
So where to from here? As the late great Dr Reggie Gold said, ‘if you’re not out to change the world, everything else is Mickey Mouse’, and we have a world to change. We as a profession need to be doing more to help support students and new graduates as they make their entry, and their way through this wonderful life called chiropractic. Even to go so far as connecting with them, encouraging people in our communities and further afield to study chiropractic. But this all has to happen well before midway through their final year in chiropractic school when students start thinking about a graduate job. Connecting with them in their formative years, bringing them to seminars, hosting student nights, talking philosophy, paying forward all the time, energy and enthusiasm the greats paid us when we were in their position. Helping cultivate a wonderful, open mindset that will prevent that subluxation above atlas, to connect and reconnect them with the profession. To foster this love of learning more, to look at the research and get involved with the research, all in turn will create an entire generation of chiropractors to pass it on to the next generation. We can have an impact on one person’s life in a moment, but to inspire someone to inspire others, that is how we create massive change.