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).

Friday, July 08, 2005

FSU 'College of Chiropractic' is a bad idea by Terry A. Rondberg, DC, WCA President

FSU 'College of Chiropractic' is a bad idea by Terry A. Rondberg, DC, WCA President

If the medical contingent at Florida State University has its way, the school's proposed College of Chiropractic will never become a reality. They think having a school teach such an "unscientific" discipline on their campus will somehow sully their reputation. Studying chiropractic, to them, has about as much value as studying the whereabouts of Bigfoot.

In interviews and letters circulated widely in the media and on the internet, these medical bigots have demonstrated their ignorance and narrow‑mindedness. They are driven by fear and greed and personify everything that is wrong with the medical profession.

So, along with many other chiropractors, I find myself opposing the school -- although for vastly different reasons than the medical community.

The fact is, the presence of a chiropractic college at FSU won't damage the medical profession but it will do great and permanent harm to our own profession. That's because the chiropractic college proposed for the state school will NOT teach chiropractic, but some perverted amalgam designed primarily to appease the medical community.

According to information provided by FSU leaders, the school will compromise the basic tenets of chiropractic and be in direct opposition to the principles of chiropractic agreed upon by all other chiropractic college presidents when they signed and endorsed the ACC (Association of Chiropractic Colleges) Position Paper on chiropractic.

That document, subsequently endorsed by nearly every chiropractic organization, states that:

Chiropractic is a health care discipline which emphasizes the inherent recuperative power of the body to heal itself without the use of drugs or surgery -- and --

Chiropractic is concerned with the preservation and restoration of health, and focuses particular attention on the subluxation.

If an FSU "College of Chiropractic Medicine" (and I have no doubt they'll manage to get the term 'medicine' in the name) is ever started, it's unlikely that the word "subluxation" will ever be uttered except in a derogatory context. In fact, school officials don't even think the DC degree is worth anything by itself. Instead, according to FSU Provost Larry Abele, the school will offer only joint degrees, with chiropractic being combined with a master's degree in one of five areas: aging studies, food and nutrition, movement science, health policy, or public health.

That's also the plan put forth by Alan Adams, DC, who's been hired as the principle consultant to help form the new school and who appears in line to be its first dean. Dr. Adams is the former vice‑president of the Southern California University of Health Sciences, which used to be called Los Angeles College of Chiropractic before it decided to distance itself from the very word chiropractic.

I think Samuel Homola, arch chiropractic critic, summarized the situation when he stated recently on an internet mailing list:

"... a science‑based chiropractic college with a new approach and a new definition of chiropractic, associated with a major university, may force changes that will reduce the number of subluxation‑based chiropractors, which would be a change for the better. But if this means duplication of services that could be provided by physical therapists and other health‑care providers, is a new chiropractic college really necessary?" (emphasis added)

That's just the point. To become accepted by FSU (which is dominated by the medical profession and receives millions of dollars in royalties from the drug industry) would require us to "re-define" ‑‑ or more accurately distort ‑‑ the entire premise of chiropractic.

Naturally, Homola believes it to be a change for the better, but even he recognizes that doing so will mean turning DCs into nothing more than physical therapists or medical technicians. A new chiropractic college won't be necessary and neither will chiropractors. We'll become irrelevant in the health care system and pass away into oblivion.

It's clear from this entire Florida fiasco that there are two things we must do, not only if we are to survive as a separate profession, but assume the mantle of health care leadership in the coming decades.

First, we must safeguard our unique identity as non‑medical, subluxation‑centered wellness providers. We can't merely be one of a slew of practitioners offering spinal manipulation for neuromusculoskeletal disorders. Subluxation correction is the one thing we do that no one else does, and this will be the key to bringing patients into our office and helping them lead healthier lives without drugs and surgery.

Second, we must absolutely inundate our critics with valid, incontrovertible scientific research that will finally and completely silence those who continue to claim we are an unscientific profession. People like attorney Jann Bellamy (a relative perhaps of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Ray Bellamy who is leading the attack on the FSU campus?) who recently said in an editorial for The Tallahassee Democrat that:

"While chiropractic employs the language of medicine -- physician, diagnosis, subluxation, board certification, for example -- at present the hard science behind chiropractic practice is between slim and nonexistent. This is partly because, as a consultant's report commissioned by FSU itself points out, chiropractors have never rigorously researched their methods."

We need to rigorously research our methods ‑‑ and the results we obtain with them. Publications like the Journal of Vertebral Subluxation Research are already disseminating some of this research, and programs like the newly founded RCS (Research & Clinical Science) provide the means to conduct studies on a massive scale. They are leading the charge in defense of chiropractic and soon we'll have the scientific evidence to validate chiropractic subluxation correction in all its aspects.

We have to hold on. We can't wave the white flag now, just to be able to say we've been allowed to open a college at a state university. Not when we're so close to victory.