It has been an eventful couple of weeks in the chiropractic community as the CCE (Commission for Chiropractic Education) has been finalizing their new proposed accreditation standards. These standards come out every three years and in many ways serve as a mission statement, to national industry regulators, policy makers and third-party payers, detailing exactly what it is Doctors of Chiropractic are. Establishing what a Chiropractor is determines the educational goals, detailed within the new standards. Indeed, it is easy to understand how influential these standards are, both in shaping future doctors, but also in shaping the entire chiropractic community and the policies surrounding it. It would seem intuitive to assume that the goals of the Chiropractic community would be generally uniform. Astoundingly, this is not the case.
There are two schools of thought within the Chiropractic profession. One camp, is termed the “straights” as their emphasis is on the subluxation philosophy of Chiropractic, a term created by DD Palmer (the founder of Palmer Chiropractic) in the early 1900s. This philosophy is centered around how all disease is tied into spinal subluxation and can be treated by spinal manipulation of that subluxation. Hence the term “straight” as this camp, for the most part, believes that chiropractors should solely treat the spine and musculoskeletal system, ignoring all else.
The second modus operandi is termed “mixer” as it characterizes the belief that Doctors of Chiropractic are primary care physicians who specialize in spinal and musculoskeletal problems. The few schools that adhere to this principle, NUHS being one, have designed their curricula to create doctors that are highly trained primary care physicians. Not all graduates will utilize the broad scope of practice they are trained in, but all of them will have the tools to recognize serious conditions that need to be referred out. Being a primary care physician is an important position to be in, and requires proper training, both for our future patients’ proper care, and for the effectiveness of our profession as a whole.
It would again, seem intuitive to think that the Chiropractic community would work together to further the profession’s growth and place in the current medical paradigm. Again, incomprehensibly, this is not the case. The “straights” hardly want to be associated with the medical community and think chiropractic should be limited to the spine and musculoskeletal system. The “mixers” think chiropractic should continue to grow and fill a vacuum that has been created in healthcare. Their goal is to train doctors that can effectively treat the multitude of healthstyle diseases that have come to the forefront of American health.
Under the proposed CCE Accreditation Standards, much of the language identifying DCs as primary care physicians has been removed, or replaced with ambiguous language that may potentially open the profession up to harmful shifts in policy. NUHS president, Dr. Stiefel, has already issued a statement and has suggested that if we also disagree with the proposed standards, to comment on the CCE page. This is a time when we can truly help shape the future of our profession. If you would like to get involved, here’s the link: http://www.cce-usa.org/Call_for_Comments.html