Why Keep Vitalism to Ourselves?
By Penny Aviles, DC Student
My High School music professor told me once, as he was coming back from the Dean’s office, due to his attempts to kick me out of the classroom, “a good leader doesn’t come up with problems, but solutions.” Meaning, he never really made it to the Dean’s office and tried to coexist with me. Little does he know, I still remember those words with a visual image of his face saying them. I didn’t become submissive as he expected, but his wise words and my free self-expression are partly why I’ve gotten involved in organizations that seek to solve issues pertaining to chiropractic. Sometimes politics can be a slow and frustrating endeavor, but without critical thinking, debate about our profession, and the wish to take it further, Chiropractic would have continued as an underground profession in a little corner office in Davenport, IA.
Last March 27th – April 2nd, the World Congress of Chiropractic Students (WCCS) 37th Annual General Meeting took place with 134 critical minds in a tiny touristy place on the sides of the Mediterranean called Malaga, Spain. It was quite the gathering and yet, we have no words to express such a powerful, seven-day experience. Lifelong bonds of friendship and trust with future leaders of the profession from around the world are sometimes the best things that someone takes out the experience on a personal level. But looking at the bigger picture, we were a monumental part of the solution.
When being part of congress, not only do you get to represent the student body of your school at a global level, but you form part of history in chiropractic. WCCS is the oldest, international, student-run chiropractic organization and consists of 24 chiropractic school members which represent over 10,000 chiropractic students. We have no “big brother” organizations, we are independent and neutral. In WCCS you can find a safe platform for either side of the chiropractic spectrum to have a voice, because we embrace diversity. As Luke Schmidt, president of the WCCS Board of Directors, says, “The friendships that have been made through the WCCS are proof that it is possible to be diverse, yet still united.” Students involved develop leadership skills, friendships and a better understanding of chiropractic around the world than they could get in their tiny bubble we call school.
There is a middle ground where all of us studying chiropractic can meet, and that’s where we admit our role as leaders and work together towards our goal: “To advance and unite the global chiropractic profession through inspiration, integrity and leadership” (www.wccsworldwide.org). We have influenced policy changes in countries and continue to work towards regulations in chiropractic for the protection of the public. Our presence in Malaga, Spain this past spring (a country where Chiropractic is not regulated) caught the interest of the local press and allowed open dialogue with other health care professionals. In other regions like Japan, chiropractic has no regulations either, and WCCS has worked hard on getting recognition for chiropractic. One step we helped accomplish a few years ago was the introduction of the word “chiropractic” to the Japanese dictionary. These are not simple steps and definitely not fast processes, but one thing we WCCS’ers know is, we are being part of the solution. Do you dream of a world where chiropractic is highly recognized, and of a world where you didn’t have to convince anyone that it works? If this is your vision we need YOU!
Out of all those 24 chiropractic schools, only FIVE are vitalistic schools. We are outnumbered, and sadly also by students representing each school. This year we achieved our highest number of student delegates from Life U attending congress: nine. Sherman College only had one delegate representing them. Life University is the biggest chiropractic university in the world, and therefore should have a bigger delegation to represent its student body. Next Congress will take place in our own alma mater April 2015, so all you interested in participating won’t have travel expenses to worry about. As the Head Delegate of the WCCS Life Chapter, I highly recommend everyone get involved. It is our duty not only to live vitalism, and practice it in our school and future chiropractic offices, it is important we share it with the world and, trust me, this is the right place to do it. Students around the world crave for a principle bigger than a reductionist back pain and neck pain model. If you’d like to form part of the solution, come to club to hear more about it. We meet Wednesdays at 5pm in C149, or throw us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org