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Dynamic Chiropractic – May 7, 2001, Vol. 19, Issue 10

The Water Is Getting Warmer

By Reed Phillips, DC, PhD
As retiring doctor Ken Padgett chaired his final meeting of the presidents of chiropractic colleges and universities in San Diego, the phrase "The Water is Getting Warmer" was repeatedly uttered. Just what did he mean?

It all started with a report from our legislative advocate from Washington, D.C. Action for the benefit of the chiropractic profession and its educational programs was moving forward on many fronts. Two groups familiar to many, the Department of Veteran's Affairs (DVA) and the Department of Defense (DoD), indicated that the presence of chiropractic services is becoming a strong reality. The discussion is no longer, "Should we or shouldn't we?" but rather "How do we?" To those who have been involved in these discussions for over five years, the change in tone and intention is nothing short of a miracle. Providing chiropractic care in the VA and the DoD will mean that we have gained access to the two largest managed care programs in the world.

Having been on the front line of the DoD's efforts, I wish to salute the DCs who have been working in the 13 military bases during the demonstration project. It has been the grass-roots level of service that has really carried the inclusion of chiropractic in the military forward. Just imagine being placed in a military clinic to provide a new clinical service, knowing that you are not wanted there by its commander; that the MD, DO, PT, and everyone associated with them don't want a doctor of chiropractic providing service to the military personnel; even the clerical and support staff don't want you there, because you were introduced as part of a research project that meant more work for everyone. The only people who accept you are the military patients.

However, we have seen a miracle in the making. On most military bases, within six months of the DCs coming into the treatment facility, they were overwhelmed. Working six days a week, they could not keep up with their patient demands. As the word spread around the base that chiropractic care was available, people sought their help. We have to remember that back pain is one of the two most common complaints of military trainees in all branches of the armed forces. What has been even more amazing has been the attitude change of those folks that originally opposed our presence. The orthopedic physician is now praising the DC for taking on the responsibility of caring for nonsurgical cases, something the orthopedic surgeons loathed to do. Patient satisfaction with DC care has been higher than with any other providers. Lost duty time has been reduced, resulting in an increased state of troop readiness.

Don't get the impression that success in the military treatment facility has eased the process of accepting the concept that DC care is to become a permanent fixture in the military. At the level of the Pentagon and the surgeon general, there continues to be reluctance and confusion regarding how chiropractic services should fit into the military model. The military leadership has felt the pressure from the rank-and-file service folks and from the halls of Congress to move forward with implementation. The work of the DCs on the military bases, and the lobbying efforts of our national associations, are to be congratulated.

The meeting continued with a report by Ralph Meeker,DC, from the Consortial Center for Chiropractic Research. A great deal of work has gone forth to make this center (funded by NIH) successful. The center is located on the campus of Palmer University in Davenport, Iowa, and involves several other chiropractic colleges and universities. This center has placed chiropractic under the watchful eye of the NIH. The work of Dr. Meeker and others will set the stage for future research funding for chiropractic-related studies and for the continued funding of the center. This is a doorway that has been opened to our profession, into the vast world of NIH research and its associated funding sources. It also heightens our visibility for consideration in other federally funded research programs. Keep up the good work Dr. Meeker!

The water continued to get "warmer" as the day progressed. NCMIC provided dividend refund checks to the schools, and handed out some scholarship money. The Educational Investment Corporation brought news of a new student loan program that would bring many positive benefits. Foot Levelers, Inc. was present with its usual generous financial support. It was even reported that various national professional organizations were sitting down at the table to discuss common issues. There were others that could be added to the list but the message was strong that things are in a positive upswing. That was the meaning behind the statement, "The Water is Getting Warmer."

So, in the midst of all this positive experience, I reflect upon the negativity some in this profession seem to thrive upon. I wonder how much Dr. Altadonna paid Dynamic Chiropractic for his two-page spread to tell the world that he had experienced unfulfilled promises by his chiropractic college and practice management consultants with whom he had associated. He now claims to be able to fulfill if you just "call now" and get his "free" message.

Or why is it that the World Chiropractic Alliance plans a Washington, D.C. legislative conference the week preceding the traditional, annual legislative conference sponsored by the ACA? Did they feel that the combined strength of the two organizations had a greater impact on our legislative representatives, or that we will once again confuse our representatives with a double (and sometimes conflicting) message?

Our lack of internal consensus, and our uncanny ability to display a lack of internal consensus to the world is amazing. Read the dialogue between Drs. Riekeman and Dr. Winterstein regarding the use of the term chiropractic physician in the state of Nebraska. (Editor's note: Dr. Riekeman's article was "Where Do We Stand," in the Feb. 12 issue; Dr. Winterstein's rebuttal was in the April 9 "We Get Letters.") We can't even decide among ourselves what we should call ourselves but we are skilled in our ability to make sure the rest of the world knows that we don't know what we really are.

The water is getting warmer, says the rhetoric of the charmer.
Wave the chiropractic banner; confuse the public planner.
Can we control our temper when a colleague begs to differ,
Or do we spit and sputter, spewing forth our in-house clutter?
Does it really matter if the world listens to our chatter,
When the most telling factor, is being our patient's doctor?
Chiropractic seems to falter upon the philosophical alter.
Would the profession be better, without this divisive fetter?

Reed Phillips,DC,PhD
president, Los Angeles College of Chiropractic

Click here for previous articles by Reed Phillips, DC, PhD.

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