Yet, there are opportunities to do much more. As you have heard me say before, in spite of 109 years since the first adjustment, we still see only 10 percent of the American population as patients. Student enrollment in chiropractic colleges has declined by 34 percent since 1996. Despite the hard-fought battle to legitimize the image of chiropractic, we still find ourselves defending our image to the public and the press in the face of debate and controversy.
This column has been around for nine months now, and we are starting to make some progress on our first united effort for the profession. The effort: a united national public relations campaign, with the goal of simply getting more patients into chiropractic offices. The old saying, "All boats rise on a high tide," applies here. It's a quad win for doctors, patients, colleges and the profession, with the focus of: Go see a chiropractor! What better way to tell the public, rather than reading about it in the press!
What's Happening - An Update
In November 2003, at the annual meeting of the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations (COCSA), 20 leaders from chiropractic associations, chiropractic colleges, chiropractic publications, and the national board came to an agreement: They supported establishing a united nationwide public relations campaign, putting their own individualized efforts aside in recognition of the greater good! This event pulled together a critical element of the chiropractic profession as the first leg in the stool of the support structure we are building for this campaign!
Then, in early March of this year, in a presentation at the National Chiropractic Legislative Conference (NCLC), we discussed the importance of the unity mission, the national public relations campaign and its purpose with the Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA). The next day, the students passed a motion by unanimous vote to actively participate. Realizing the importance of this campaign to the future of chiropractic, and moving quickly to get behind it, this student association established the second leg of the stool! The Student International Chiropractic Association (SICA) is now being approached, and we look forward to it joining the effort.
Next, as an encore performance of the growing consensus among us, the following week, at a meeting of the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC), the college presidents signed the two documents that outline this movement: the "Declaration of National Public Relations Unity" and the "Pledge of National Public Relations Unity." With the preseidents' seal of approval, the third leg of the stool was put in place!
Vendors will be contacted next for support, as the fourth leg of the stool. The momentum is building.
It's Going to Take a Minute ...
Once the campaign gets started, it's going to take some time to see results. In our 109 years, we've basically been at rest - not moving forward. But now that we've made a decision, it's going to take a minute to get in motion. Our situation is like a car that has run out of gas that you want to push into your driveway. In the beginning, you push as hard as you can, and the car doesn't move. But after pushing for a while, you start to see things roll a little bit as you're looking down at the ground. So, you keep pushing and it rolls a little more; you keep pushing and it rolls a little more ... and pretty soon, it starts to roll nicely. Now, you're thinking, "This is a good deal!" But the one thing you know if you've ever pushed a car is - once you get it going, you can't stop, because it was a killer to get it moving in the first place!
Realizing results from this campaign will take time. But as with the car scenario, as we push hard and it starts to roll, the pushing will get easier and the results will get bigger. The key, once we get things going our way, is to stay committed and keep pushing for greater awareness of chiropractic.
We are on a roll in the first phase of this effort, and I would like to congratulate the groups and individuals who have joined to get the movement started. The heavy lifting is just beginning, but together, we will make this work!
Kent S. Greenawalt
Click here for previous articles by Kent Greenawalt.