- Chiropractors only see one in 10 Americans as patients. I think we all agree we need to improve this ratio. One in 10 is 10 percent, or only 10 out of 100 Americans. Just think - if we saw 12 out of a hundred, our profession would grow by 20 percent. Motto: A small change can make a huge difference.
- It's not unusual for chiropractic to receive bad press coverage in the media. Our profession is constantly playing defense - defending what we do and correcting inaccurate, biased reporting.
- In 1996, new enrollments at chiropractic colleges totaled approximately 15,400; in 2002, it was approximately 8,800. This is a 42-percent decline in enrollment - or a loss of 6,600 students! This means fewer people are in the pipeline to become chiropractors.
In strict business terms, if we were to analyze our profession, the trends are not good: We're not getting the market penetration we'd like; we're continually faced with a media that's not kind to us, resulting in an image that is less than favorable to the masses; and decreasing student enrollment translates into a profession that is not growing.
At this point, we have several options:
Continue to do what we are already doing. If we do that, the snapshot I mentioned won't change. There's an old expression that says, "Continue to do what you do and you'll continue to get what you get." Obviously, we'd all like to get something different, so we might want to try something different. We can't do better without change.
So, let's look at some positive change. Why don't we do the reverse of the adage, "Divide and conquer," which is, "unite and prosper"? What's that mean? It means working together; it means growing up; it means seeing the big picture.
For example, let's look at another profession that makes terrific use of the "unite and prosper" concept: law. There are many different kinds of lawyers: general practice; tax; family; corporate; criminal; patent; property; estate. Attorneys really run the gamut of diversity!
However, their collective attitude as a profession is that they are all lawyers and they stick together. They all had to go through an educational and professional process, much like ours: They went to school and took the bar. They have licenses in the states in which they practice, identifying them as lawyers, and at the end of the day, they collectively recognize themselves as practitioners of the law, but their arguments are in court, not out in the open. What's the public perception? Lawyers are a united group!
Given the current state of our affairs, we cannot afford the luxury of acting as if we are growing and thriving. Look again at the facts at the top of this column. We've got to get together so we can grow and thrive. Let's work together! What if we had a national public relations organization working for us? Why don't we ban together and pool our resources (money and intellect) and make it our goal to gain market share and positive relations. For us to unite and prosper, we must do two things immediately:
1. Stop the Fighting!
Fighting among ourselves is one of the most damaging things we can do to our profession. It's confusing. We confuse our legislators; we confuse the public! Why do we do it? You tell me! We keep shooting ourselves in the foot when we do this. If we continue squabbling, I guarantee you that the facts at the start of this column will degrade over time. We are divided, and the stats prove it. Is that what we really want? Trust me, there are far better targets to aim at than each other, and if you take the attitude that you don't want to cooperate with your fellow chiropractors because you're afraid of losing power, you'll end up the king of no one!
My plea is for you to consider this: If two prospective DCs attend chiropractic college, graduate, then pass the appropriate state and national licensure examinations, they both become chiropractors. If Dr. A goes to one school and practices using X technique, and Dr. B goes to another school and practices using Y technique, they're both still chiropractors. Leave the individual choice of how they practice alone! Become chiropractors in the eyes of each other and show respect. Let the state law and the governing boards worry about who's practicing correctly or not. Quit telling each other what we can't do, and figure out what we can do!
2. Stand Up and Be Counted
The second thing we need to do is to stand up and be counted as a profession. You may be asking yourself: "What can I do?" A lot! But you can't change a thing until you step into the voting booth and pull the lever. The best way to get your vote counted in the profession is to join your state or national chiropractic associations.
As our associations' membership grows, the chiropractic profession will decide what we collectively want, and our collective voice within the profession will get louder. So, join something; vote for something; vote for the principal, "unite and prosper." It's in your hands - and that makes all the difference.
Be Part of the United Effort
Why not share in the vision that can turn it around for us all? Instead of seeing one out of 10 patients, what if we each saw nine out of 10? Instead of the media beating us up all the time, what if it sang our praises? Instead of declining college enrollment, what if our current buildings couldn't contain the burgeoning numbers of aspiring doctors? Hold these visions in your heart and act toward achieving them. I know they are possible. In fact, they are not just possible; they are very real and very attainable. Let's make it happen, shall we?
Kent S. Greenawalt
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