Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Saturday, January 08, 2005

FSU: Physicians urge school be stopped

Jan. 05, 2005

Physicians urge school be stopped

Doctors say program not science-based

By Melanie Yeager

Hundreds of Tallahassee-area physicians are urging Florida State University and state education officials to quash plans for a new chiropractic program at the school.

"It's obviously a political football in most people's opinions," said Dr. David Stewart, president of the Capital Medical Society, representing 500-plus physicians. "We want to make sure the local physician community is on record as not supporting it and being against it." The society's 14-member board voted unanimously Tuesday morning to oppose it.

FSU President T.K. Wetherell wasn't fazed by the news.

"OK," Wetherell said when told of the group's stance on what has quickly become a contentious issue statewide. "Put it in the mix with everything else." He said FSU is not getting in the age-old conflict between doctors and chiropractors.

"That is not what we're about. That's their professional fights and ego fights. We're about putting the best educational program on the table."

FSU's proposal is a joint degree for those who already have a bachelor's degree. Graduates would have to get a master's degree along with a chiropractic degree in one of the following five areas: aging studies, food and nutrition, movement science, health policy or public health. FSU has said its curriculum will be science-based.

Led by then-Senate President and FSU alum Jim King, the Legislature gave FSU the authority to offer a chiropractic degree last year and provided the university $9 million a year for its non-existent School of Chiropractic Medicine. FSU can use the money any way it sees fit until a school is operational.

Because the Legislature authorized a chiropractic school before the Board of Governors considered it, the school has become Exhibit A in a legal fight over who runs the state's 11 universities. A suit filed last month in Leon County Circuit Court alleges Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature violated a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2002 that created the Board of Governors to manage universities. Bush has said the statewide panel's powers are significant, but the Constitution doesn't require the board to use them.

The Board of Governors has asked FSU to present its plans for a chiropractic program at its meeting Jan. 27 in Gainesville. The FSU board of trustees plans to discuss the program at its meeting next Friday.

"If there is a vote to be taken during these two important meetings in January, we want these boards to know our opinion," said Karen Wendland, executive director of the society.

Chief among the doctors' concerns is that politicians, not academicians, have decided to impose a chiropractic school upon FSU. They think it's also not in the best interest of FSU, especially the university's fledgling medical school.

"The affiliation will serve to legitimize the unscientific and even anti-scientific philosophies associated with chiropractic," Wendland said. She emphasized that the society was not knocking chiropractors, just the possibility of a school.

"They have their place, but it's not in science-based medicine," she said.

Discussion among the area's physicians has been fueled by Dr. Ray Bellamy, an orthopedic surgeon, who has been running a fervent campaign against the school. He and FSU Provost Larry Abele individually made presentations to the doctors' group last year.

The society's doctor members were surveyed last month on whether they wanted to call for an immediate moratorium on starting the chiropractic school and encourage a public forum on the issue instead. Almost half replied.

"Every signed petition we got was in favor of the moratorium," Wendland said. The society's elected leadership decided to go forward with voicing opposition to the school because it looked as though the upcoming meetings could move "fast and furious in a decision-making mode," she said. The society hasn't ruled out a public forum, though, and may sponsor one next week.

Wetherell said whether FSU offers chiropractic studies won't be up to doctors, but educators. The graduate-level program is being reviewed by FSU's faculty.

"The university's not about exclusion. It's about inclusion," Wetherell said. "We had some doctors, quite frankly, oppose the medical school." Wetherell said FSU prepares students for a wide range of professions, including hotel management, physical education and fashion merchandising.

Wetherell says any chiropractic program will not be associated with FSU's medical school.
"It has nothing to do with the medical school. It isn't housed in the medical school. It doesn't even use their facilities," he said. "It's not more of an issue for the medical school than any other program out here."



The FSU Faculty Senate's Graduate Policy Committee reviews the chiropractic-program proposal early next week.

Possible forums on the issue for the public and the FSU faculty are in the works for Jan. 13.

The FSU board of trustees will discuss the program Jan. 14.

FSU presents its chiropractic-program proposal to the Board of Governors on Jan. 27.