Presidents Message, Robert Braile, D.C.
Upon seeing my headline of "Crisis", Im sure more than a few of you were just a little anxious to learn what crisis chiropractic faces that would prompt me to devote my message to it. Just what potentially terrible event is about to happen to chiropractic that warrants the President of ICA to write a message entitles "Crisis". Is there a new smear campaign by the AMA? Is there a television program, bashing chiropractors again? Is some major news or feature publication that printed an article against chiropractic? Is the federal government trying to limit us in some way? Are any states drastically threatening chiropractic as a separate and distinct profession? Are there any other professions trying to encroach on the practice of chiropractic? Are some within our profession attempting to sell out our principles for short-term monetary returns?
YES, all of the above is happening right now! What most practitioners dont realize is that all of the scenarios I mentioned are happening right now as you read this. They are real, they are dangerous, and they are constantly ongoing. Not a day goes by where I do not receive calls, letters, email, or visits from chiropractors and students informing me of some terrible crisis that "just happened". The above scenarios are happening constantly in chiropractic all over the U.S.A., and the world.
I can recall recently where a doctor called me up to inform me of a negative editorial in that very mornings edition of the New York Times newspaper. He asked if I was aware of it. Since I do not read the New York Times I told him I wasnt. After telling me about it, he then went on to ask why the ICA was ICA was "asleep at the switch?" When I ask him what he meant by this he said that ICA must have missed this one.
This comment disturbed me, as I have always been proud of ICAs fast response to almost all issues. I immediately did some further research and checked on the issue. As it turns out the ICA home office had already seen the article, printed a response and sent it off to the newspaper. Upon further checking I also found out that the concerned chiropractor whom though ICA was "asleep at the switch", was himself not an ICA member.
On a daily basis, a different crisis will arise. Inevitably a chiropractor will see the danger and call the ICA. This is how we mostly find out about things happening around the world. Unfortunately, the exchange from the doctor usually stops there. Many of us feel that once we have turned a problem over to our national association we are done. After all, isnt that we pay dues for? My answer to that is NO!
Think for a minute about the ICA name. The International Chiropractors Association. The very name implies CHIROPRACTORS as a group. Just because one belongs to the ICA membership does not excuse them from participation. If a nation taxes its citizens to build a national defense, does it still not need those very same citizens to become the soldiers in that army? A citizen might complain, "you mean I have to pay taxes and fight too?" Well frankly, YES.
As sad as it is to me to admit. Only 25% of all chiropractors belong to either the ACA or the ICA. A full 75% have decided that they need not be involved on that level. This severely cuts into the funds available to fight the mountain of issues that occur on a daily basis in chiropractic. In addition to this think of how much more effective we could be if each of us dedicated just some small portion of our time to fighting the crisis issue facing chiropractic right now.
If that one chiropractor, who I spoke of earlier, was a member, the ICA would have more money to serve chiropractic better. If he wrote a letter of response to the New York Times, they would have one more voice of opinion, which they would have to answer. The higher the level of involvement that one single chiropractor chooses to engage the greater the impact on all the issues.
I do realize that this message is being read by those who are already involved. If you are taking the time to read this you probably are an ICA member already. You probably already help fight the fight in one form or another. But can each of us do just one more thing? Can you write one more letter about an article you see that disturbs you? Can you contact just one other chiropractor who you know should be an ICA member but isnt? Is there something you could do that would help some situation just a little bit?
If you were faced with a terrible crisis that was going to impact you directly and drastically, what would you do? For example, if a state legislature were about to remove a certain type of insurance coverage for chiropractic, would you take action? Would you call a state legislator? Would you write a letter? Would you give money? Heres another scenario. If a local TV station were doing an article about the dangers of chiropractic, would you write them? Would you encourage your patients to write?
It seems that we take action only when we perceive an immediate threat to ourselves. I would like to suggest that the immediate threat is always present. What is needed from each of us is a constant vigilance and action to stop these crises and prevent future ones. At no time during your practice is all going smooth in the world of chiropractic. At no time is the threat of attack against chiropractic ever abated. At no time do we ever have the luxury of saying all is calm on the chiropractic waters.
Just because we are not aware of the threat, does not make it any less dangerous. In fact being unaware of a threat is always more dangerous. Certainly early warning of hurricanes has made them less deadly because we have time to prepare. Being aware of an oncoming storm and making preparations for one will not stop the storm, but it will help you survive it. The same is true for the storms in chiropractic. Unfortunately most chiropractors are unaware of the constant and ongoing storms against our profession. This is evident by the 75% who dont belong to a national association.
In order for chiropractic to survive the ongoing and future storms we must be aware and take action. We must not pass up any opportunities to take a stand, speak out, and be heard. We must belong, we must get others to belong, and we must contribute time money and energy. Imaging the impact if every chiropractor just spent 10 more minutes and 10 more dollars per week on chiropractic. This small level of monetary output would be enough money for ICA dues for the year. Ten minutes per week would be enough to produce 50 letters of concern per year per doctor. This would be over 2.5 million letters sent by chiropractors each year on various issues. This would have an impact!
It does not take a monumental step for monumental things to happen. It does not take a massive effort to avoid a potentially devastating crisis. All that is needed is for each of us to give just a little more than we are right now. Whether it be a little more money, a little more time writing, a little more effort recruiting members into ICA, or even just a little more time educating our patients. Just a little can accomplish so much. If you were to ask me what the biggest crisis I see facing the profession to day is, Id say it was apathy.