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Dynamic Chiropractic – September 12, 1996, Vol. 14, Issue 19

Unity without Merger

By R. James Gregg
The chiropractic profession has experienced multi-dimensional growth on an unprecedented scale in recent years. From the sheer size of our profession to the growing public awareness and indeed, demand for our services, we are no longer a small endeavor. With this growth comes many changes in the politics, information pathways and marketplace significance of our profession. New demands are being made every day, and the problems of the individual practitioner seem to be continually intensifying. There is, however, an equivalent strength and maturity that is giving chiropractic the vision and power to deal with any and all challenges. This is our salvation.

Chiropractic's best protection in many ways is in its size and diversity. With more than 50,000 DCs active in the United States alone, the vastness of chiropractic means that no one central force or organization can dominate the direction and resources of the profession. We are a diverse and multi-faceted profession, represented by many different groups and organizations. Our maturity as a profession is best expressed I believe in an acceptance of our professional diversity and a recognition that there are no differences that exist within chiropractic that should stand as a barrier to cooperation profession-wide on issues that are of common importance and concern.

The International Chiropractors Association and the American Chiropractic Association have taken an historic step in recent days that reflects a mature, responsible understanding of how to most effectively meet chiropractic's needs and challenges, without encumbering the process of cooperation with political baggage that takes the focus away from practical problem-solving. ICA and ACA have agreed to host a chiropractic summit meeting this fall to which a wide variety of chiropractic organizations have been invited to send representatives. The goal of this meeting is very simple, practical, and realistic: to establish common ground and seek ways to more effectively coordinate the application of chiropractic's resources in addressing those common problems and opportunities. This is all being done with the recognition that an organizational merger is not part of the mix we need right now to solve the profession's problems.

I have painful personal memories of efforts a decade ago to effect an organizational merger between ICA and ACA. This effort was driven by leaders who believed that the combining of association structures was the only way to marshal the strength and resources necessary to address the real needs of the profession. That effort failed largely because too many individual DCs saw in this effort little more than a big political game, and whether this was a right or wrong perception, that drive for merger diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars and the attention of hundreds of leaders for many months away from real, practical problem-solving. There are many people in chiropractic who are simply mesmerized by the politics of chiropractic. There is nothing wrong with this value except that personal dreams and private agendas do not always reflect the real needs of the profession, and no personal vision is now adequate to truly represent this vast, diverse profession. The answer is multi-organizational cooperation, with each participating organization confident and secure of their individual values, role, and direction, but responsible and mature enough to work together to get work done.

There is little glamour in the organizational work of chiropractic: meetings, writing letters to politicians, raising money to support legal action on behalf of chiropractic and chiropractic patients, and communication with people you do not know well or with whom you have disagreed over the years. There is little glamour and too little glory for the workhorses of our profession. Still, the example young doctors should see and follow is the selfless worker, committed to progress for the profession rather than the flamboyant individual leader seeking political attention. ICA and ACA take the challenges and opportunities chiropractic faces as we enter our second century very seriously. Serious challenges require serious, mature solutions. We recognize that some of those solutions cannot be found within the organizational boundaries of any single group. Nor do those boundaries need to be permanently redrawn to affect progress.

I am proud to be part of the ICA/ACA effort to focus chiropractic's attention and resources on real problems. I hope these steps will also serve as a clarion call to those tens of thousands of DCs across the nation who are presently sitting on the sidelines.

Chiropractic needs all DCs to join and work within a national association and perhaps ICA and ACA working to establish a common front on agreed problems will bring more, badly needed troops into the fight for chiropractic's future.

I look forward to a period of serious searching for the means to progress, and believe that the profession will respond enthusiastically to this good-faith effort. We all need to be a part of the solution. If we are not, what are we a part of? The answer to this one is easy and understood by all. We are part of the problem.

R. James Gregg, DC, FICA
Garden City, Michigan

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