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Dynamic Chiropractic – June 29, 1998, Vol. 16, Issue 14

A Shared Vision for the Next Millennium

By Louis Sportelli, DC
If you are a NCMIC policyholder, look in the mail in the next few weeks and you will find a copy of an "executive summary" of a two-year research project funded by NCMIC Insurance Company and conducted by the Institute for Alternative Futures. The foreword to the executive summary and to the monograph dealing with complementary and alternative approaches (CAAs) was written by Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa. It was through the efforts of Senator Harkin that the Alternative Institute was formed and funded. He has been a moving force in granting Americans the opportunity to seek alternative health care treatment by encouraging Congress to allocate funds enabling alternative health care researchers to obtain the necessary dollars to continue to investigate alternative approaches to the allopathic model for the restoration of health.

The board of directors of the NCMIC Group has provided these "leadership tools" for the profession to truly take an objective, dispassionate look at where chiropractic might be 15 years from now; what will be required to get there; and what trends and changes will be essential for the profession to recognize in order to be prepared.

Several fundamental requirements for a proposed "futures" study were determined. One prerequisite was to find an independent professional organization that specialized in projects demanding expertise in futures research. A search was undertaken to find a group possessing a sterling reputation among its peers, a history of diverse clients, exceptional proficiency in health care forecasting and unassailable credibility. That institution was identified as the Institute for Alternative Futures (IAF). The background of this firm was the right mix of knowledge and intuition. With clients ranging from government to the military, from the Fortune 500 to companies not yet on the stock exchange, IAF was the right choice to undertake this project. Two reports were generated by IAF: The Future of Chiropractic: Optimizing Health Gains; and The Future of Complementary and Alternative Approaches (CAAs) in U.S. Health Care. These reports address questions of where the chiropractic profession will be in the year 2010.

A series of meetings was required to insure that the research would be conducted with outstanding attention to detail. The nuances and rich history, coupled with the social and professional controversy surrounding the profession of chiropractic, were essential to discuss to acquaint IAF with the current issues confronting the profession. The practical utility of the project was essential to insure that the finished product would create a document that could serve as a "future planning map" for the collective profession to use in beginning to build and create a "shared vision" for tomorrow.

Above all, however, the integrity of the research needed to be guaranteed to protect the independence and objectivity of the final reports. IAF's high standards demanded tenacious and uncompromising attention to process, program and methodology. Scrupulous attention to every detail was essential to distinguish these reports from others which may have tangentially opined on the subject of the future of the chiropractic profession without adequately researching the issue.

You will be very pleased with the thoroughness of these reports. They present a set of current facts and outline scenarios for the future which will ultimately be "self-directed and self-selected" by the profession. These reports identify the challenges for the profession and do so in an adroit, clear and concise fashion. They provide action steps which can be used as is, modified, and/or redefined by the profession.

The reports attempt to set the stage for questions answerable only by the profession itself: How does chiropractic define its vision? Will the profession attempt to coalesce these concepts from the many disparate views into one "shared vision" for the future? What will the profession do with the blueprint provided by scenarios in these documents? Will the profession seek the common ground necessary to insure future survival and growth? These "tools" for consideration are prepared in a "scenario" format designed to provide a "shared vision" composed of survival mechanisms to carry chiropractic to a prominent position in health care by the year 2010.

This document is not the end, but rather the beginning. It is the start of a process for the chiropractic community to unite behind a single "shared vision" which will identify, to those within the profession and those outside the profession, our message. The message is for the chiropractic profession to define, to refine, and ultimately to determine how the vision is achieved.

Within the next few weeks, a copy of an executive summary will be mailed to NCMIC policyholders. An announcement will be made soon as to how other doctors of chiropractic can obtain a free copy. The goal is to provide a copy of the executive summary to each and every practicing doctor of chiropractic in the United States. Watch for the announcement in the various chiropractic periodicals for details.

By this effort, NCMIC has, in essence, been a catalyst in the process of bringing creative ideas, concepts and optimism for the future to the chiropractic community. These reports are not the thoughts and views of a few selected DCs, but rather a wonderful blend of past, present and future thinkers from many professions who have provided a rich, thoughtful beginning for a process which will be never-ending. It is imperative that the chiropractic profession remain dynamic, viable, united, hopeful and futuristic in its decisions for tomorrow. The direction for the profession will either be achieved by active direct involvement or total default, by complete participation or benign neglect. Only the profession can create its own "shared vision" and NCMIC is proud to have been a part of helping to focus on the future.

The famous words of Robert Frost essentially sum up the dilemma facing the chiropractic profession. The next millennium is upon us, the world of health care has turned topsy-turvy, and the practitioners are divided as to how they can, might or must survive and remain a viable health care profession.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

-- "The Road Not Taken"

I am confident the chiropractic profession is ready for the new challenges which will confront the profession, challenges which are identified so clearly in the documents produced by the Institute for Alternative Futures in these incisive reports. These challenges, if identified and overcome, will take this profession from obscurity to dominance, from conflict to coalescence, and from discord to harmony. A "shared vision" will be the first step in the journey for the profession to achieve its rightful identity, claim its rightful heritage, and become an equal partner in the delivery of health care for the future. We hope you find the reports exciting, enlightening and encouraging, for the year 2010 is not that far off.

Louis Sportelli, DC
Palmerton, Pennsylvania

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