National University of Health Sciences, which entered into a partnership agreement with St. Petersburg College last year to provide National's first professional degree in chiropractic at one or more SPC campuses, has received accreditation approval from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. With the chiropractic program set to welcome its first incoming class this September and the next two classes scheduled to begin coursework in January and May 2010, respectively, chiropractic education now stands poised to be represented at a major public educational institution.
"We're very pleased to announce this accreditation, which is one of several successful milestones we've crossed in bringing National's DC program to Florida," said NUHS President James Winterstein, DC, who mentioned in an interview last year that documents would be submitted to both the Higher Learning Commission and the Council on Chiropractic Education.
Under terms of the partnership agreement, signed June 19, 2008, National will utilize SPC facilities and support services to provide its chiropractic degree program in Florida. SPC maintains campuses/education centers in Tarpon Springs, Clearwater (two sites), Largo, Seminole, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg (three sites). As of press time, it is unknown which specific SPC sites will administer the chiropractic curriculum.
Founded more than 80 years ago as the first private, nonprofit two-year junior college in St. Petersburg, SPC received full accreditation in 1931 and became a public college in 1948. In June 2001, then-Gov. Jeb Bush signed legislation allowing state community colleges to offer four-year degrees, and SPC became the first to do so. The college currently offers bachelor's degrees in paralegal studies, nursing and other fields, and was the first Florida college to offer a four-year degree in dental hygiene.
Recent attempts to develop a chiropractic degree program at a public university (also in Florida) have not fared so well. In 2004, Gov. Bush signed Senate Bill 2002, which allocated $9 million for the formation of a school of chiropractic medicine at Florida State University (FSU). By year's end, however, a petition was circulating on the FSU campus, questioning the need for the chiropractic program. Within a month, more than 500 FSU faculty members had signed the petition and at least nine assistant professors had threatened to resign.
On Jan. 4, 2005, the board of directors of the Capital Medical Society, representing more than 500 physicians in the Tallahassee, Fla., area, voted unanimously to oppose the program. Ten days later, FSU trustees deferred to the Board of Governors, the state agency that oversees the Florida university system; the board ultimately voted 10-3 to deny the formation of the chiropractic school.
For background information, including our original interview with Dr. Winterstein, read "National to Offer Its Chiropractic Degree in Florida" in the Aug. 12, 2008 issue of DC.