I have to admit, I was surprised by some of the comments I heard from delegates of various foreign chiropractic associations. They questioned the ability of the two U.S. national associations (alphabetically, the ACA and ICA) to genuinely represent the chiropractic profession in the United States.
As I perused the World Federation of Chiropractic's "Report to the Assembly," I noticed the latest membership figures for our two national chiropractic associations. Adding up the two figures, I (like the rest of the attendees) was startled to see that the combined general membership of the ACA and ICA was less than 10,000 members. After a quick calculation, I realized that together they represented only 16 percent of the chiropractors in the U.S.
The membership in the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA), I noted, had risen to over 4,200 members, more than 90 percent of the DCs in Canada. Assuming that the current trends continue, in about five years the CCA will become the largest national chiropractic association in the world!
This statistical trend was known by the WFC when that body was trying to decide which of the nine Japanese chiropractic associations it should recognize,1,2 and when the WFC declined to consider a request for membership by the representative from Malaysia because their two associations had apparently not yet made an effort to unite. The WFC has wisely decided to only recognize one chiropractic association from each country, with the exception of the U.S.!
During the World Chiropractic Congress, there was some talk that the ACA might discontinue its membership in the WFC. While this would quickly solve the issue of the WFC recognizing two associations from the U.S., it would leave the ICA (with only four percent of the U.S. DCs as members) representing the U.S. chiropractic profession in the world body. (Here's an interesting speculation: If the ACA decided to terminate WFC membership and change its mind a year later, would the WFC be inclined to re-recognize the ACA?)
Declining membership in the U.S. national associations is not news. It has been a fact for most of the last 10 years, but it has now reached a point where the chiropractic world is seriously concerned. Perhaps the question needs to be asked:
How low do we have to go?
It's obvious that we in the U.S. have a serious problem. The chiropractic profession is growing by 2,500-3,000 DCs each year, and yet our national association membership continues to decline.
The combined membership of the ACA and ICA (16 percent of DCs) represents less than one out of every six DCs in the U.S. Will we acknowledge the problem now, or do we have to go lower? Will action be taken when it drops to 14 percent, or will it have to drop to 10 percent or lower before we admit that we have a problem?
How long before another association emerges to overshadow the two?
In response to some of the concerns of the international delegates, an explanation was presented: "It's because the U.S. DCs have to pay so much for their state chiropractic association membership that they can't afford to support the national associations."
While this can be considered a viable comment, it is not a viable excuse. This merely underscores the need to reconstruct the U.S. national associations (and perhaps the state associations) into an organization that supports chiropractic on all levels: national, regional, state and local.
With over 62,000 doctors of chiropractic, the chiropractic profession in the United States is the obvious choice to demonstrate significant world leadership for chiropractic. But the current situation leaves a leadership void that will certainly be filled by other chiropractic associations in other countries.
So what next? This is where you come in. We have created a permanent place where you can make your comments regarding this issue on our website (www.ChiroWeb.com ). While we are not requiring that you include your name, we are asking you to select if you are a:
- national association member only;
- national and state association member;
- state association member only; 4. neither a national nor a state association member.
Just pick one of the above and then make your comment with or without your name.
If you do not have internet capability yet, just fax (714-536-1482) or mail the information to us and we will enter it for you. Once we have received the majority of the comments, the results will be published with representative samples of the comments made.
The question is:
Why are you (aren't you) a member of a national association?
You can find it at http://www.ChiroWeb.com/why
- Proposed testing in Japan to I.D. qualified DCs. Dizzying array of acronyms add confusion to the chaos. DC March 8, 1999.
- Chance of a lifetime for chiropractic in Japan. Approaching threat of manual therapy legislation. DC June 28, 1999.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.