The sad truth about the state of our profession off of the LIFE island
The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE), the sole accreditation body for all chiropractic colleges in the United States, has a history of pushing a political agenda and making decisions based on conflicts of interest. They became the sole accreditation body for the chiropractic profession in the 1970’s when the CCE, an American Chiropractic Association (ACA) based agency, pushed through their application with the Department of Education to be the accreditation body for chiropractic. This action violated an agreement the ACA had with the International Chiropractic Association (ICA) and their accreditation body, to wait until common ground could be found in the profession with regard to it’s education. The ACA has historically been known for representing the “mixer” faction of the profession, while the ICA stands for the “straight” side of the profession. The drive to form one accreditation agency was an effort to improve chiropractic’s status as a profession and to qualify for federal financial funding for students. The CCE and ACA took on that role with brute force and not with peaceful acceptance from the entire profession. (1)
In 2001, a review of the CCE by the United States Department of Education (USDE) found the CCE in noncompliance with several of their own standards. These included not allowing faculty of schools a means for feedback on changes made to the CCE Standards; failing to respond to complaints in a timely manner; and several instances of conflict of interest between those on the board of the CCE and their political agendas.
In 2006, the CCE came up for another five-year USDE review. In the transcripts of those proceedings, the CCE, the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), and the Federal of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (FCLB) were characterized many times by reviewers as forming both a monopoly and cartel. These three organizations have complete control over what is taught in schools, what is tested on national and state boards, and what is accepted at the state level for chiropractic licensing requirements. Since these three organizations have taken over control of the chiropractic profession, and allopathic model of disease treatment has begun to dominate chiropractic education, and the amount of medically oriented diagnosis and physical therapy has increased and become the norm for a chiropractic educational curriculum, the National Board exams and state licensure. As a result, all three organizations, and specifically the CCE, have been accused of numerous acts of supporting a political agenda leading chiropractic in the allopathic direction championed by one faction of the profession.
Some of the biggest issues brought forth at the 2006 hearing to renew the CCE’s accreditation came from the subluxation-based side of chiropractic. The problems brought forth were the questionable attempt to revoke Life University’s accreditation (which was immediately overturned by a federal judge due to conflict of interest issues), continuously refusing to recognize any national organizations beyond the ACA and ICA, and maintaining a far from democratic governing structure, wherein those in control represent a small faction of the profession and schools. Despite hearing testimony from many concerned with the CCE’s actions over the years, and having concerns of their own, the USDE determined the CCE had fulfilled the requirements for continued accreditation and could find no legal reason to refuse renewal of the CCE’s accreditation for another five years.
Last fall, the Life University campus erupted with concern over the newly proposed CCE Standards of Accreditation. A rumored 4,000 comments were submitted to the CCE, including a nine-page document from our own President, Dr. Riekeman, in the hopes of pointing out the huge ramifications the new Standards potentially held for both the chiropractic profession and the accreditation of the CCE with the USDE. However, in January, the worst fears of many were realized when, on the brink of their next five-year review, the CCE announced their plans to officially adopt the new Standards without any of the revisions suggested by the chiropractic community.
As a recap, there were three major changes made in the language of the CCE accreditation Standards that pose a huge threat to what chiropractic has always been known for and stood for:
One: The wording of the programs the CCE accredits has been changed from just “Doctor of Chiropractic Programs” to include “or their equivalent.” (1,2,3) This change opens the doors for the Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine degree, a degree long sought after by National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) and Western States Chiropractic College (WSCC) whose missions are to broaden the scope of practice for chiropractic to include prescription rights and have chiropractors take on more of the general practice (GP) medical physicians’ role. (1,2,3) Contrary to the popular rumor circulating around this campus, this change does not require all chiropractic colleges to confer the DCM degree. It does, however, open the door for those schools wishing to do so to implement that degree and maintain their accreditation with the CCE. It also allows state licensing boards to choose to accept both a DC and DCM degree, or only one of the two.
Two: The word ‘subluxation’ has been removed from all language in the CCE Standards document. (1,2,3) This change is of great concern to subluxation-based chiropractors and marks the culmination of a long battle between the search for scientific evidence for subluxation and the philosophical basis of chiropractic. If we don’t ajust subluxation as chiropractors, what exactly do we do? If it’s not part of the language that accredits our schools, what is the basis of our education and profession? There are many who argue that all chiropractic is good for is the treatment of low back pain and headaches. Can we prove that we find, adjust and remove subluxations? The CCE appears to have taken a side on this issue and answered “no” to many of the above questions. However, just what chiropractic is remains somewhat undefined by the CCE’s new Standards.
Three: All reference to chiropractic as a profession providing health care “without the use of drugs or surgery” has been removed. (1,2,3) For the last 115 years, chiropractic’s identity has been a profession that doesn’t use drugs or surgery. That has been one of the main distinctions separating chiropractic and chiropractors from the medical profession. Our predecessors have fought long and hard battles in politics, in jail and in court to prove our profession is separate and distinct from the medical profession, that we are not practicing medicine without a license, because we are not practicing medicine at all. Within the last year, things have begun to drastically take us away from this distinction with the passing of prescriptive rights for chiropractors with continuing education in pharmacology in New Mexico, the conferring of a Master of Science in Advanced Clinical Diagnosis by the National University of Health Sciences (NUHS, formerly NCC), and now the CCE Standards revisions. (4,5) Our profession is no longer distinguished as separate and distinct from allopathy, osteopathy and physical therapy.
How long will it take the rest of the chiropractic educational “cartel” to further force medicine into our profession with new parts to National Boards that include more training in pharmacology and other “primary care medical physician” procedures? How long until more state boards pass laws to expand our scope of practice and begin to require new pharmacology training and pharmacology board exams for licensure?
Our profession has developed a passion for non-involvement. (6) As chiropractors, we go out into the world, forget about the parts of our education we hated and become wrapped up in our own lives, practice and community. The membership of both the ICA and ACA, even when combined with that of the other political organizations existing on both sides of philosophical divide, still represent a very small fraction of the profession.
The “no-chiropractic association” phenomenon is arguably a huge part of the reason we have come so far from what our profession was originally founded for – an entity separate and distinct from medicine which restores the power of the body to do what it was born to do. Those in control are pushing to be absorbed into the allopathic model, and with these new Standards they have fairly well succeeded.
It is up to the next generation of chiropractors to either take a stand for who we are, or let chiropractic fall by the wayside and turn into a second or even third rate medical profession. Do you love what you do? Do you want to see chiropractic survive, united at last? Do you want to help your patients regain control of their health and wellbeing, or treat people for low back pain and headaches for the rest of your life, giving them a few prescriptions here and there to cover up their symptoms?
It’s time to get involved. Not once you graduate, not in ten years, not never. It’s not time to take the easy way out, to agree to something because the road less traveled is too hard. If we want to see our profession, as we know it, survive we must be as unreasonable as our predecessors. They insured our survival against all odds by standing for what they believed in, going to jail as many times as they had to, and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that what they were doing was not for the benefit of themselves, but for the benefit of their patients and the overall health of the world. For most of us at this school, chiropractic is a way of life, an answer to the poor health plaguing this country. It’s time to wake up and realize that in the real world, that’s not the direction the profession is heading. Now I ask you future chiropractors, what are YOU going to do about it?
For more information on the history and current events mentioned in this article, check out the following references or email Vital Source at email@example.com.
1. Dr. Riekeman’s Response to the CCE, found on the Life Facebook page
2. CCE proposed standards, taken from their website.
3. Edwards, J. What is the CCE trying to pull? Dynamic Chiropractic, Oct 21 2010. 28(22).
4. Nutz, J. Chiropractic Needs an Adjustment, Not drugs. Dynamic Chiropractic. Mar 26. 2010. 28(07).
5. Kent, C. Drugs, Chiropractic and Boiled Frogs. Dynamic Chiropractic. Feb 12, 2010. 28(04).
6. Perle, S. The No Chiropractic Association: Professional Duty Not Required. Jan 29, 2011. 29(03).