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Statement on Education & Chiropractic

Prior to the establishment of the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) as the sole accrediting body in the profession, our educational institutions were accredited by either the International Chiropractors Association or the American Chiropractic Association. In an effort to gain federal recognition both organizations decided to pursue federal recognition for their respective accrediting bodies. The ICA and ACA initially agreed to defer submitting formal applications through the Department of Education in the hopes they could resolve their differences and approach the federal government with one agency. Unfortunately, the CCE (ACA’s accrediting body) submitted their application without waiting. Since that time a number of very significant events have transpired that have changed the substance of chiropractic education.


One very serious issue is the adoption of the CCE as the sole accrediting body of the profession by the majority of the state licensing boards. This means that without changes in the law and/or board rules one could not get a license unless their education was provided by a CCE accredited school. The profession saw the dire effects of such actions when schools such as Pennsylvania College of Straight Chiropractic and Southern California College of Straight Chiropractic were forced to shut their doors due to these policies.  


Graduates of Sherman College in the late 80’s also suffered the effects of these laws and rules. Many graduates during that time were refused licensure because an alternative accrediting agency had been formed (Straight Chiropractic Academic Standards Association – SCASA) to address the inequities and intrusion on the missions of schools not wanting to adopt a medically oriented educational program. Political maneuvering led to the demise of SCASA, the domination of the CCE standards and the mandate of a primary care training program including full body diagnosis and related treatment strategies.


Even as recently as the late 90’s and early part of 2000 these mandates were challenged as Life University went through an accreditation crisis which included questioning the authority of the CCE to mandate the mission of chiropractic educational programs.  A great deal of damage was done on both sides during this debacle, Life changed its mission to include primary care and physician related terminology and other schools followed suit not wanting to suffer the same fate.    


The adoption of the roles and responsibilities of a primary care physician in the chiropractic educational system is now complete – at least on paper. Whether or not the current clinical educational and training experiences qualify graduates to serve as primary care physicians is open to debate and there is broad disagreement on this issue within the profession. 


The controlling faction of the profession does however use the educational focus on primary care as mandated by the CCE to argue for chiropractic’s inclusion in a variety of provider situations. As recently as June of 2009 the ICA, ACA and COCSA put forth a policy document representing a unified stance asserting that chiropractors were trained as primary care providers and ready to fill the gap in the primary care physician shortage in the United States.    


What is wholly absent in these discussions, policies and standards is the allowance for educational institutions to express their autonomy in regards to the mission of their educational programs. Even though there is serious debate as to whether or not chiropractors can fulfill the role of a primary care physician, educational institutions seeking to offer the Doctor of Chiropractic degree must comply with the primary care mandate or else its graduates cannot be licensed in the majority of the jurisdictions in the United States.


To be sure, the argument is not that training in primary care should not be offered, it is the concern that primary care has become the mission and that individual institutions are not allowed the autonomy to have any other focus. And/or, so much time is spent on teaching primary care, medical diagnosis and medical management that there is little time left in the curriculum to teach subluxation related analysis and management.   


As chiropractic has increasingly become adopted by other care providers as an additional technique in their therapeutic armamentarium it has become crucial that the unique service (correction of vertebral subluxation) provided by the chiropractor be protected. Training for this unique service should not be pushed aside in a curriculum top heavy with medical diagnosis and management but instead should form the core curriculum around which the necessary knowledge and skills needed to practice as a primary contact, portal of entry provider are taught.


Relegating the core service this profession provides to humanity to the sidelines for the sake of expediency, acceptance and inclusion in a third party pay system is short sighted and selfish. It is a gross abdication of our responsibility to the founders, future practitioners and the patients we serve. The focus of a chiropractic education must return to one of imparting the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to manage patients with vertebral subluxation.       


Will you join us on this mission?


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