Chiropractic In The Future: An Interview With Dr. Gerard Clum

The chiropractor’s role has changed greatly over the last forty years. As it evolves further into the future there comes a necessity to marry two powerful aspects of our cause: the philosophy of vitalism and the evidence base for what we do. Dr Gerry Clum sat down with Spinal Research following the Dynamic Growth Congress in February to have a chat about chiropractic in the future. He talked about the need to end the dichotomy between evidence-based and philosophy-based chiropractic. 

“If the world can begin to hear our message because we are expressing it in a language they can hear, that will be a very useful thing.” 

Clum is presenting a clear imperative – to grow the evidence base behind what we do and use it to back up the philosophy that has driven chiropractic for generations. At Spinal Research, we see this as a necessary and achievable goal. We now have a great and growing evidence base to back up our philosophy, and a strong, time-honoured philosophy to guide the evidence.  As chiropractic moves into the future, the marriage of these two elements couldn’t be more critical.

“There is a tremendous base of evidence for what we do, the implications of what we do and long term effects of what we do,” says Dr. Clum. “This isn’t about affecting a joint or a nerve. This is about changing the structure and function of the brain with an adjustment. It sounds bold, and in some circles it would sound crazy but that’s what the data shows. It ties us back to what our forefathers have said from the very beginning.”

“Our job right now is to connect the experience that we’ve all had over an adjusting table, with the evidence that is available. We need to master what we can, understand what we don’t, and continue to fill in those gaps.”

This dual responsibility represents a paradigm shift for chiropractors. Forty years ago, success and reputation were built on how well a chiropractor worked at the adjusting table. Today, it is built on much more. It’s here that the grassroots practitioner plays a critical role in the future of the industry.

“In 2016, you have to be good at the adjusting table, but you have to be just as good at the conference table. You have to engage at the conference table in order to maintain your right at the adjusting table. We need a different way of thinking here.”

Rather than being daunted by this task, Clum offers some clear-cut advice. “It’s essential to understand our responsibility to engage the literature, the political process, and the organisational process. We must engage logically and critically.”

Clum has two adult children who are practicing chiropractors, and he is the first to admit that their world is vastly different to the one he entered decades ago. But no matter how much the industry evolves, good care and compassionate care must still remain at the heart of the profession. “It is the bedrock of everything. Upon that bedrock, we must build and integrate more structure in order to spread our message.”

An argument Dr. Clum is all too familiar with is the idea that vitalism and evidence are at odds with each other, but he is not buying into that argument.

“I don’t see a conflict between science and vitalism. In our deepest core, we are emotional beings but what we move ahead on, the coin of the realm, is science. We have to engage the data and the science of the day. We have to do better. I kinda like these X-rays, MRI’s, CT scans and neurological studies. They’re good to have. We need to be there, looking for the cutting edge in that data, but to look at it within the framework of the mission and vision of our approach to healthcare.”

“I have a love of chiropractic in all of its forms. I want to love that and embrace that in all of its forms. I don’t see a conflict between the two perspectives or starting points.”

Philosophy and evidence can go hand in hand as we move into the future, backing up our practice and helping spread the word about the benefits of what we do.

If the world can begin to hear our message because we are expressing it in a language they can understand and accept, that will indeed be a very good thing.

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