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Dynamic Chiropractic – December 2, 2010, Vol. 28, Issue 25

Who Will Take Their Place?

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher

Drs. Michael Pedigo and Gerard Clum are both shining examples of great chiropractic leaders.

The former just passed away, while the latter has announced his retirement (from Life West, at least). Either of these two recent events would merit reflection; the fact that both have come on our professional scene at essentially the same time demands it. Each of these men accomplished great things during their time and I have been fortunate to number both as my friends. Each has shaped this profession and made tremendous investments in our future.

Mike was one of the champions of chiropractic's lawsuit against the American Medical Association (AMA). Along with his four co-plaintiffs, he spent 15 years of his life bringing the AMA to justice for its efforts to "contain and eliminate" the chiropractic profession.

Not satisfied to help write one of the most important chapters in our history, Mike went on to become president of the California Chiropractic Association, the International Chiropractors Association (ICA) and the American Chiropractic Association (ACA). None of these positions came with any type of salary. Many times, they didn't even cover his expenses. In addition, Mike was a full-time practicing doctor of chiropractic with a wife and family.

Gerry was a founding faculty member at Life Chiropractic College (now Life University) in 1975. Just six years later, he became the president of Life Chiropractic College West at the young age of 28. Also not satisfied with only one professional position, Gerry is a founding board member of both the Association of Chiropractic Colleges (ACC) and the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC), and has served at all levels of both organizations. During most of that same time, he was also an officer and/or board member of the ICA.

Gerry is currently on the boards of the WFC and ACC, and on the board and executive committee of the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. (He is quick to tell you that his retirement as president of Life West will give him more time to do more for chiropractic.) These positions don't pay a salary, either, and don't cover all expenses. Gerry is also a husband and father.

Gerry and Mike became doctors of chiropractic about the same time. They both began giving back to chiropractic in the early '70s. Each spent about 35 years serving the profession they loved and carving their names into our history. (Fortunately for us, Gerry is still serving.)

Now that Mike is gone and Gerry has retired, the question I want to ask is: Who will replace them? This is not about their positions, but about the untold thousands of hours over decades of service they gave to us and to the future of our profession. Each of us has a responsibility and an opportunity to give back to chiropractic. Each of us is required to make investments of time and resources into the future of chiropractic. We may never face down the AMA or help graduate thousands of new DCs; but what we do for this profession matters. In my mind, there are three very important reasons to get involved in serving this profession:

  • We need you: The chiropractic profession isn't supported by drug companies or inordinate amounts of federal grants. We are the underdogs. Chiropractic only moves forward when we all put our shoulders to the wheel.

  • You need a strong chiropractic profession to be successful: A strong profession creates opportunities for every DC in the world. Too few DCs involved means too few resources to fight the battles for inclusion and parity. Losing these battles ultimately reduces the potential success of your practice.

  • You will be a better person for it: Working together with other doctors to serve something greater has a very positive impact on your soul. As iron sharpens iron, giving of yourself and sharing the load with other DCs will make you a better doctor.

Take it from someone who was fortunate enough to spend time serving with Mike and still spends time serving with Gerry. I am a much better man for my time with them. I understand more, I appreciate more and I have grown significantly as a person.

When you serve together, you challenge each other to be better than you are. Along with the challenges comes love and support to help you grow. The more experienced leaders mentor those coming up the ranks. You won't always agree, but honest disagreement will help you define who you are and where you stand.

If your life is all about your practice and your family, your world is likely too small for you to be completely happy. Giving of yourself toward a greater good is required to find the kind of joy Gerry and Mike found.

Given the examples set before you, there are no excuses. You aren't too young or too old. If you don't have much money at this point in your career, you probably have time. Both are valuable. Give what you have.

You may not think you could ever be a Michael Pedigo or a Gerard Clum, but that doesn't mean this profession doesn't need your contribution. It does. You have things to give that no one else can. If you haven't already, make a decision to become active in the future of chiropractic. Do it today.

Read more findings on my blog: You can also visit me on Facebook.

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