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Dynamic Chiropractic – August 29, 1990, Vol. 08, Issue 18

"The Sides of a Coin"

By Richard Tyler, DC

A famous newscaster was once asked why so much time was spent on all the terrible things that happen in the world. His answer was that people just weren't that interested in the fact that someone may get an "A" in school, but were drawn, instead, to the news that a student may have been thrown out for beating up the teacher.

It's human nature to be fascinated by the bad, the violent, and the ugly. Knowing this, the main focus of most news broadcasts is always on what will attract the most listeners and viewers -- hence little emphasis on the positive.

This concept is carried to the print media and, looking back upon my years as an editorialist, I find that I'm one of the worst offenders. Column after column has been filled with the negative and seldom with anything of a positive nature. Maybe it's been a habit or maybe it's just more fun to write as well as read the knocks instead of the boosts. Whatever the reason, it certainly would seem propitious at this time to count some of our blessings in this profession of ours.

Sure -- I know there are greedy practice management entrepreneurs, slick technique peddlers, gimmick pushers, and philosophy psychos out there, but they -- I like to believe -- are the exception. Most in the profession are dedicated to the welfare of their patients before all other considerations.

Where most of our problems started was in the fight for survival. Most who came into the profession years ago did so with a substantial risk of condemnation by a poorly informed public and even the possibility of imprisonment for practicing medicine without a license. As a measure of defense, we were virtually forced to develop an insular style and language all our own. It was assumed that a DC couldn't be jailed if he didn't do those nasty medical things like diagnosing, prescribing, and treating. Semantically shrewd, B.J. Palmer therefore changed diagnosis into "analysis," prescribing into "recommending," and treating into "adjusting." How could we be prosecuted for doing things chiropractic? Upon these semantical bricks a wall was built that to this day not only divides us from the other healing disciplines, but from many of our own colleagues. The reasons, however, were for the perceived protection of our profession. In that, nothing can be wrong -- only in the present anachronistic devotion of a militant minority.

Also in our formative years was the need to tell people what we did. Certainly there were few organs of communication open to us at the time. Any press we got was mostly negative, so we had to create our own by advertising, with the vestiges of this need found in the papers and Yellow Pages of today.

Because of this controversial genesis, which carries over to the present day, many graduating DCs have found it difficult to get started in practice without some kind of business sophistication and savvy. Thus was born the practice management entrepreneur.

All of the preceding was based upon need. Only the exaggeration and distortion of these needs has been a problem. We need successful chiropractors out in the field to strengthen our profession and facilitate its continued growth, and we need successful doctors to help as many people as possible.

Therefore, we should look at the positive side of things:

  1. Because of years of degradation at the hands of medicine, we have become the "street fighters" of the healing arts. This means that out of the fire, the iron of our will to survive has been tempered into the steel of survival and growth.

  2. Because of the years of accusations of academic poverty, we are building finer schools with impressive faculties and curriculum. Within the next decade our professional structure could become a paragon of substance to be emulated by all the other healing disciplines.

  3. Because of years of being denied adequate avenues of communication, we have developed impressive entrepreneurial skills. In fact, all of the practice management systems have at least something that is viable and ethical. The problem is with those that deal in excess and sacrifice ethics for expediency.

    While I cannot editorially endorse one approach over another, there are definitely entrepreneurs I greatly respect.

  4. Because organized medicine, which can prove the rationale or value of virtually none of the things it does, constantly called osseous manipulation and the structure/function hypothesis quackery, we are developing a long-needed legitimate research arm within the profession.
After years of professional and academic isolation we developed a hybrid profession in the healing arts. However, like the tale of the ridiculed ugly duckling, we are emerging with the beauty of a swan. The face of chiropractic is one I love -- warts and all.

There -- now I'm exhausted from all this nice stuff. Guess that will have to do for at least the next few years.

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