Being a Chiropractic Student stuck between the TORS and Medis
At New Beginnings this past April, Dr. Liam Schubel referred to the chiropractic education as schizophrenic. The following is an explanation of just what that means and a proposal to purge chiropractic of its schizophrenic education and identity.
In the infancy of the chiropractic profession two philosophical camps developed that continue to run rampant today. As LIFE students we are all familiar with the philosophy created and developed by the Palmers. They sought to fill a void they saw in medicine and correct the cause of disease rather than treat its effects. They did not use any therapies, but simply applied the chiropractic adjustment at the right place and right time. They did not come from the educated upper class, but instead were hard-working, self educated blue collar men who developed a method of health care they believed would change the world.
As the Palmer’s took their newfound passion to the masses and began teaching others what they knew, another camp of chiropractors developed. The leaders of this group were two men, Langworthy and Carver. Unlike the founders of chiropractic, they believed in the use of modalities and alternative ways to treat disease. Their followers, like their leaders, tended to be medical doctors, osteopaths or naturopaths, seeking to add yet another degree and tool to their white collar education.
These two camps have been known throughout history as the “straights” (Palmers) and the “mixers” (Langworthy and Carver.) Both sides have continually worked to develop chiropractic in the direction they feel it should go, one as a separate and distinct profession, and the other as another route to become a medical doctor. Today these terms have been replaced by chiropracTOR’s practicing chiropracTIC, and MEDIpractors pushing for prescription rights and the incorporation of chiropractic into the medical profession. Regardless of the terms, chiropractic schools are charged with satisfying the traditionally medipractor educational standards devoid of any philosophical background that is required of the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) and National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), while still, if their own philosophy is intact, providing students with the philosophical understanding necessary to practice chiropractic in it’s pure form, as a science, philosophy and art.
The weird dichotomy that has been created in chiropractic through political power struggles between the two factions rears it’s ugly head on our own campus in the form of our curriculum. It’s a fairly common phenomenon to walk around the LIFE campus and hear someone complaining about a class we’re required to take as chiropractic students. What exactly does urinalysis, visceral diagnosis or learning how to do a digital rectal and female pelvic exam have to do with chiropractic? Every quarter at least one class in the curriculum raises the question: “Why am I being asked to learn this? I’m going to be a chiropractor, I remove vertebral subluxations by adjusting the spine!” Well the answer lies in the philosophical division described above.
As students we are left trying to figure out just what our role is as chiropractors in “the real world.” We attend classes where we are informed we must know this information for boards. Our teachers stress mastering medical diagnosis lest someone die under our care. Then we attend seminars where we are told to forget everything we learned in school because most of it is baloney required by the CCE, NBCE and state licensing boards, but will hold no place for us in the real world. By the time we reach 12th Quarter Advanced CLET with Dr. McCoy, a full case of schizophrenia has set in. No help is to be found from Dr. McCoy, who further rattles our brains by pointing out LIFE’s mission statement is to train us as “primary clinicians” fully capable and competent in every subject we have learned in school—including urinalysis and performing a Digital Rectal Exam. Although he himself is arguably one of the more principled chiropractors teaching at LIFE, his job is to ascertain whether we have truly learned the information necessary to competently fulfill the school’s mission for us upon graduation. With all the mixed messages about what our role truly is when we graduate, is it any wonder a portion of the profession has abandoned all philosophy and are fighting for the comfort of joining the medical world?
Given the recent events with the CCE abandoning all reference to chiropractic as a separate and distinct profession that heals without the use of drugs or surgery, the time has come for chiropractic to reclaim it’s own education. It’s time to take a stand for ourselves and our profession. We don’t need medicine to make our profession successful in changing the health of the world, what we need is a revamping of our education system so that chiropractic students graduate ready to spread chiropracTIC around the world. What we don’t need is for students to continue to graduate feeling scared or incompetent in their chiropractic art, science and philosophy because of a schizophrenic training in two conflicting ideologies. Who is ready to join me in a revolution?