Chiropractic leaders, college presidents, and politicians have a tendency to forget that the practitioners of our philosophy, art, and science are what make them what they are. Conversely, the practitioners tend to conveniently forget that without the college presidents, and state and national leaders, the profession would not be in the forefront of health care that it is today. In other words, we need each other. In retrospect, the most important person in chiropractic is the practitioner in the field, i.e, the ones who love, serve, and agonize over their patients. They are the ones that constantly create more and more demand for chiropractic care by their caring and expertise in the practice of chiropractic to individual patients. Their example causes others to want to enter the profession, thereby expanding and perpetuating the largest, drugless, nonsurgical healing art in the world today.
It is hoped that our leaders remember that any group that comes together to set standards of care, ethics, policy, etc., needs to include a majority of practitioners when making those all- encompassing decisions. The definition of a "practitioner" is a person who earns their living through the practice of chiropractic on a day to day basis, not part time, but full time. Conversely, field practitioners need to understand that without support on a state and national level, and without support and membership in state and national associations, the profession will not grow.
All of us need to become involved much more than we ever have before. For those of you who don't belong to either national organizations, let alone a state organization, it's time you joined -- for your own good. You just can't sit back and criticize what the leaders are doing or not doing. You need to become involved, and you need to be as involved in the profession as you are involved with your practice. Your time spent serving state and national organizations must be in proportion to the time you spend building your practice and the time helping it to grow. Support gives power to our profession, and the almost 50,000 doctors of chiropractic across the country can be a powerful force if they all belonged -- but most chiropractors don't belong.
One of the pitfalls of our profession or any profession is to become complacent, and sadly, many of us are. Remember, people who are resting on their laurels, are wearing them on the wrong end. A quote from IBM's Buck Rogers: "The buggywhip industry failed to realize it was in the transportation business. Complacency is deadly. Success is fleeting. People reflect too long on their accomplishments. Don't wait; look ahead. Occasionally you must knock your best products off the pedestal." In other words, sometimes "if it ain't broke, break it!" We are saying it is all right to alter things that are not working, and it's even more important that we sometimes change how we do things, even though we think that they may appear to be working.
Granted, many positive things are happening for the profession, but we have not reached the level needed to get the over 250 million people in the United States (let alone the rest of the world) under chiropractic care. The battle is still there, and the war is still on. The saying that "only the dead have seen the end of war" is true. One needs just to remember the recent chiropractic pediatric bashing by Dr. Murray Katz and his medical cohorts in Canada. Thank goodness the International Chiropractors Association has stood up against the medical monopoly on pediatric care by its strong and effective stand in the media over the past several years.
Even though recent, exciting media coverage about some positive studies on chiropractic has put us in the forefront, it is important that we do not become complacent, thinking that there is nothing to worry about. We have a long way to go. The enemy is still lurking on the flanks and always ready to deliver another salvo of virulent anti-chiropractic bashing. No my friends, all of us need to be continually on guard and never rest past victories. The often repeated phrase out in the field is: "Gee, we seem to be doing fairly well, no reason to get excited about this; no reason to use some of my hard earned money to support one of the state associations or the ICA or the ACA. Just let them carry the ball, after all, we benefit without belonging, don't we?" Never before has membership increased as rapidly as it has in the ICA. But no matter what your political philosophy is, not belonging continues to drain the life blood out of the profession. Cynicism is still prevalent among many members in our profession. Leaders are nothing without great armies behind them. Together we can accomplish things that we have never dreamed could possibly happen. But to accomplish the dreams you must first participate.
If you don't belong, join. If you belonged but have dropped out, rejoin. If you do belong, get involved. You can make a difference and it is absolutely necessary that you do.
In the times of the early Roman Empire, victorious generals were driven into the cities on chariots, the conquered enemy marching before them on chains. And throughout the parade a slave stood behind the conquering hero holding a crown over his head while whispering in his ear the warning, "All glory is fleeting." Carpe diem.
John A. Hofmann, DC, FICA
Allen Park, Michigan