In the 25 years we've presented the Person of the Year award, a single individual has received the coveted honor on all but four occasions. This year, a fifth group honoree joins the list, numbering in the hundreds and connected by their dedication to advance the profession.We're talking about the Chiropractic Supplier, who provides innovative products and services to enhance patient care and build your practice; and donates time and money to fund scholarships, research grants and other projects to promote and advance the profession. Look no further than chiropractic's professional organizations for insight into the key role the supplier plays within the profession, particularly during these uncertain economic times.
"Vendors have become integral not only in [their] support of the profession for the individual doctor, but also for our state and national associations as a source of cutting-edge technology, information and much-needed non-dues revenue," said Dr. Kate Rufolo, president of the Congress of Chiropractic State Associations (COCSA). "In this economy when many are having a hard time making ends meet, our state and national associations have seen some of the much-needed membership dues dwindle. The many vendors who serve the profession ... have stepped in and provided business acumen, philanthropy and partnership.
"This is a win/win/win situation as a whole, as it provides not only access to marketing and sales for the vendors and non-dues revenue to the associations, but [also furthers] the ultimate goal, which is excellent and cutting-edge care for the patient. ... I am proud to work shoulder to shoulder with many of our vendors – who are a part of the fabric of our chiropractic family."
David-Chapman Smith, secretary-general of the World Federation of Chiropractic, emphasized vendors' international support of chiropractic: "Many vendors, taking the long view and getting no immediate bang for the buck at all, but loving the profession beyond commercial imperatives, [have become] annual corporate members of the WFC for up to $10,000, and then contributed more to specific projects: things like getting chiropractic into the World Health Organization, supporting legislative campaigns as in Brazil, supporting pioneering DCs in Ghana and Uganda and Bolivia and Zimbabwe who needed equipment and funds."
According to Dr. Keith Overland, ACA president, "Doctors of chiropractic – along with CAs and eventually students – bear the burden of juggling expert patient care with the demands of running a business. The support and expertise of our ever-expanding pool of chiropractic business partners is good for everyone." Dr. Overland noted that chiropractic suppliers also "provide expertise by means of publishing research, providing educational programs and generally offering opportunities for our doctors to expand their knowledge of services that can be made available for improved patient care."
Said Debbie Brown, executive director of the Florida Chiropractic Association: "Vendors who market through associations – by exhibiting at association events and advertising in association publications and on their web sites – give invaluable support to all of the activities that keep the profession moving forward. Their support helps the association do the heavy lifting of lobbying and advocacy that improves the practice environment for chiropractic physicians and widens patient access to chiropractic care."
For Dr. Gilles Lamarche, vice president of clinics, research, continuing education, and seminars at Parker University, "vendors and sponsors of chiropractic events offer extreme value. ... What I always appreciate is the innovative thinking that vendors put into keeping their products cutting edge, so that chiropractors can offer the best possible patient-centered care to their communities. Having vendors present in our expo allows attendees to discover these new and innovative products, in one location."
Funding the Future
"Until recent years the chiropractic profession has received no public funding for its education, research and development," said Chapman-Smith. "It still receives virtually nothing in comparison with other recognized health professions. In these circumstances vendors have been the lifeblood of the profession, over and again stepping in to do what was vital at times when doctors of chiropractic just didn't have the necessary resources. They have funded buildings, imaging and other equipment and programs at colleges. Nearly every chiropractic researcher, producing the foundation for the profession's future, got [their] higher degrees and a start in significant research through vendor funding, scholarships and grants.
"Don't write this off as self-interest. ... Many vendors [give] far more deeply than normal marketing dictates. They are chiropractic heroes in every way."