Chiropractic curricula across the nation are suffering from the "plague." They are crammed full of information, yet much of what we teach our students is dictated by what they need to pass their board exams.
The real world of public health embraces prevention; health maintenance; interdisciplinary team care; health care policy for the good of the patient; and freedom of choice in health care options, among others. The chiropractic profession can relate to all of these concepts quite well. We need to get out of that "microbe mentality" and become educated about what is happening in the "real world" of health care through public health.
How Can I Get Involved?
Every chiropractor with an interest in public health, and certainly every chiropractic college, should begin to build relationships with their local public health department and learn what is going on in their community. Although we may differ philosophically with the emphases of some health department programs, we can learn a great deal.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, by becoming involved in the chiropractic health care section of the American Public Health Association (APHA), chiropractors can play a more active role in our nation's health. In the APHA, chiropractic is on a level playing field with other health professionals and can collaboratively promote some very worthwhile health concepts. After participating for several years in APHA activities and governance, we honestly feel that there is no better forum for interprofessional exchange than the APHA.
We're on a "Mission"
The mission of the Chiropractic Health Care section of the APHA is: "To serve as a vehicle for chiropractic participation in mainstream public health activities, and to enhance chiropractic communication, education, and credibility on public health matters." APHA is an excellent forum for chiropractic patient care program information, health policy news, research, and much more. How Effective Have We Been?
Two recent examples can elucidate how important and effective chiropractic's participation in the APHA has been. Several months ago, the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) was accepted for membership into the World Health Organization (WHO). This milestone in our profession's history was aided by a strong endorsement of chiropractic by the World Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA). The WFPHA stated that they based their endorsement on chiropractic's participation in APHA activities over the past 10 years! It is true that the positive visibility of the chiropractic profession through APHA is invaluable.
More recently, the chiropractic section of APHA was invited to provide input on formulating APHA's official response to the U.S. government's department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed "strategic plan." This invitation was a result of chiropractic's active section status at the APHA. Our participation allowed us to include wording favorable to the chiropractic profession in the APHA's official response. The APHA is an excellent venue for chiropractic to impact U.S. government health policy. Once invited to the table, we can make our voice heard!
But Where Are All the Chiropractors?
The chiropractic profession fought long and hard to win full section status in the APHA. Previously, chiropractic held "special interest group" status, with far less clout than those professions with "Section" status. The Chiropractic Health Care section of the APHA currently has just over 400 active members. That means that tens of thousands of chiropractors have not seen the big picture and the positive implications of being involved in the APHA. In APHA, we can be a part of the second largest health care advocacy group (second only to the AMA). Anyone thirsty for knowledge about current happenings in health care (not just in the microcosm of chiropractic) should be an APHA member and attend the next APHA conference this November in Indianapolis.
What's in It for Me?
Thanks to the hard work of DCs Cheryl Hawk and Steve Savoie at Palmer College of Chiropractic, continuing education credit will be available for DCs attending the 1997 APHA conference. We feel that this is a strong indicator of our profession's maturity. The chiropractic profession no longer mandates that we should only be allowed CE credit for chiropractic seminars. Now we can learn about important health care issues in an interdisciplinary forum, and be rewarded in the form of CE credit. This is big. Aside from the CE offered, the APHA conference is an awesome event, where over 10,000 health professionals gather annually to network and share information about their respective professions.
Attend the 1997 APHA conference and you will see presentations of the latest in chiropractic research and educational programs. You may also attend any of the hundreds of concurrent sessions on hot topics in health care. It is an action-packed and extremely rewarding few days, and is well worth the trip to Indianapolis on November 9th-13th (chiropractic forums are on Monday and Tuesday, November 10th-11th). This year marks the APHA's 125th birthday celebration, which will make the conference bigger, better, and even more exciting!
OK, I Get the Big Picture! What Should I Do Next?
The first step is to become a member of the APHA. You can then have a stronger voice in public health policy, and be abreast of scientific developments in chiropractic and other health professions. You will receive the monthly newsletter and the Journal of the APHA, both excellent resources for expanding your knowledge. Chiropractic is the newest section of the APHA. Join now and be a part of the exciting growth of our profession's stature in the larger health care community. Your expertise and active participation are essential to our continued success as a section of the APHA!
Our membership count is used to determine the number of governing council representatives the chiropractic profession will have this year at APHA. The membership numbers are calculated on August 30th, 1997, so mail or fax your membership application in today! You determine the strength of our voice at APHA.
You may use the membership application provided herein to join APHA today. We encourage all of our colleagues in the chiropractic profession to join and see what all the excitement is about! We look forward to welcoming you to APHA in the coming months. APHA is the place to be in 1997!
For more information about the APHA you may contact:
Lisa Zaynab Killinger, DC
Chiropractic Health Care Section, APHA
Rand Baird, DC
Care Section, APHA
For additional information about the 1997 APHA conference, call (301) 694-5243.
Click here for previous articles by Rand Baird, DC, MPH, FICA, FICC.