Chiropractic unity is a common theme in the profession today, albeit a complex one. Some have embraced the issue and are working to build relationships; some still bristle at the thought of compromise and embracing "the other side." On the side of unity are the Michigan Chiropractic Association (MCA) and the Michigan Chiropractic Society (MCS), who have announced an agreement, in principal, to merge.
Following the Michigan example, the Virginia Chiropractic Association (VCA) and the Virginia Society of Chiropractic (VSC) also have met to discuss unity possibilities.
What's Happening in Michigan
As we go to press, the MCA and the MCS are preparing documents for each board to consider. The documents will include both financial and membership information. Board members will vote on June 1, 2006, at a special joint board meeting. The merger becomes effective upon member ratification.
The MCA and the MCS have worked together successfully in the past, most recently regarding scope-of-practice legislation and in legal actions against discriminatory insurance practices. According to a press release issued by the two groups, "A merger will create a single, more influential association that better serves chiropractic doctors, patients and the profession as a whole."
This is not the first time the two Michigan chiropractic groups have explored the possibility of forming a united front. On Aug. 7, 2005, the MCA and the MCS each appointed members to a "unification steering committee" in an effort to explore a possible merger. Almost immediately after the announcement of the steering committee, a survey was e-mailed to more than 1,400 chiropractors in Michigan regarding the potential merger. Approximately 90 percent of those who responded were in favor of the proposed merger. Of those who responded, 45 percent were MCA members, 34 percent were MCS members and 21 percent were not members of either association. The survey also revealed that the two associations believed they were in agreement on 85 percent of the issues affecting the state's chiropractors. (See "Michigan Chiropractic Associations Explore Merger; Ninety Percent of Michigan DCs Surveyed Want Unity," Sept. 27, 2005 DC. www.chiroweb.com/archives/23/20/09.html).
For more information on unity efforts in Michigan, visit www.michiganchiropractic.org (MCA) and www.chiromi.com (MCS).
What's Happening in Virginia
In Virginia, representatives from both the VCA and the VSC met recently to discuss the feasibility of the two groups unifying. Prior to the meeting, both groups polled their membership to determine if there was statewide interest among the profession to see both groups unified.
The meeting was organized by Gene Veno, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania Chiropractic Association and CEO of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. Veno, who helped unify the state chiropractic organizations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, discussed the advantages to unification such as cost savings, a sharing of resources and expertise, and speaking with one voice before legislators. "I was impressed with the level of commitment and professionalism displayed at the fact-finding meeting," he said. "If the leaders continue to meet, they will no doubt achieve a monumental accomplishment on behalf of all licensed Doctors of Chiropractic in Virginia."
Leaders of both groups committed to sending out a joint press release to all DCs statewide, scheduling the next "Unity Session" to take place during the joint Medicare seminar that both groups are bringing to Richmond, Va., on June 24.
To learn more about ongoing unification efforts in Virginia, visit the involved organizations' Web sites: www.virginiachiropractic.org (VCA) and www.vschiro.org (VSC).
What's Happening in Colorado
On May 6-7, 2006, the "Colorado Chiropractic Unity Committee" held the first-ever Colorado Unity Symposium, which brought together members of the Colorado Chiropractic Association, Colorado Chiropractic Society, Colorado Chiropractic Wellness Alliance and others to discuss the importance of becoming a unified force within the profession. Terry Yochum, DC, DACBR, chair of the committee, invited attendees to share their insights and strategies for unifying the state's chiropractic profession. Gene Veno also participated in the symposium and facilitated a panel discussion.
According to the Colorado Chiropractic Association, a detailed report of the symposium will be available in the near future. For more information, visit www.coloradochiropractic.org.
The Trend Toward State Unity
A few years ago, after being continually embarrassed by state legislators, the New Jersey chiropractic associations finally joined forces to present a united front in their lobbying efforts. The New Jersey groups finally realized that nothing was going to be accomplished until they presented a unified front. Six of the seven chiropractic state associations met to discuss unification, ultimately agreeing to function as part of the Association of New Jersey Chiropractors (ANJC). The Central New Jersey Chiropractic Society, New Jersey Chiropractic Society, Ocean Mammoth Chiropractic Society and Southern New Jersey Society joined forces; the Council of New Jersey Chiropractors and Northern New Jersey Chiropractic Society agreed to function in accord with the new association while remaining independent. (See "Unity in New Jersey," Jan. 15, 2005 DC www.chiroweb.com/archives/23/02/18.html).
According to Dr. Allen Vargas, representative for the Council of New Jersey Chiropractors, "A key factor that made unity possible in New Jersey was a unanimous agreement to invite all New Jersey organizations to join the ANJC as equally represented 'regions,' regardless of whether the organization had merged or remained independent. The ANJC is comprised of three regions that are part of a merged organization, and two regions that are autonomous. A crucial aspect of the organizational structure was that it permits all members to run and vote for all positions in their local region, as well as ANJC president and vice president. This required that all members had to respect the viewpoints of others, and meant that philosophical and practice tolerance became another major key to the unification process."