Author's Note: In celebration of 40 years of Dynamic Chiropractic, I've asked some of the great leaders who have impacted the success of our profession over that time to write their own "Report of My Findings." We begin with Dr. Louis Sportelli, a man known to all who has been a close friend and mentor to me over many years. What he has to say speaks to our future, as we face new challenges only we can overcome.
What an amazing 40-year legacy Dynamic Chiropractic (DC) has provided the chiropractic profession. The word advocacy could be the hidden byline for this unique publication, which has changed the landscape of the chiropractic profession.
In 1997, I was honored to be asked to write a monthly column entitled: "In the Court of Public Opinion." I was given no restrictions; complete freedom to write about any and all contemporary issues of the day. In my very first column, 25 years ago, I wrote:
"In today's multimedia world of satellite laser-printed newspapers, sound bite-driven television and internet web pages, there is no place to hide from the realities of having to face the negative MEDIA REPORTS which will emerge to challenge, prod, motivate, encourage, and expose those within the chiropractic community who would violate the public trust."
No place to hide! How insightful those words would become. That era was the beginning of the internet, email, Facebook, Twitter and the social-media platform evolutions that would forever change the manner of all future communication. It would change the way we shop, the dynamics of personal communication and ideology; and forever alter human connectivity (for better and worse).
Dynamic Chiropractic as a publication has evolved with the changes, from physical to technological, and from in-house production to the virtual office model; but the mission has not changed one iota. DC was created to make those in power accountable by the transparency of exposure. To some, that threat is a greater fear than any other consequence. With that mission, Dynamic Chiropractic became the printed voice of advocacy for the chiropractic profession.
Battles Won – But More to Fight
Since the 1980s – the launch of DC – the profession has succeeded in some incredible battles. The Wilk vs. the AMA litigation was resolved with a decision that would change in a short period of time the conspiracy of the medical opposition to chiropractic. Each state had achieved licensure and the U.S. Office of Education had granted CCE accreditation recognition, enabling all our colleges to obtain federal funding.
Chiropractic secured status with the Veterans Administration for inclusion. The reimbursement models for chiropractic services were becoming commonplace, and the trajectory of the profession was on a steep climb.
But I grew concerned as I saw the determination and dedication of the early pioneer warriors wane and complacency set in as we entered the 21st century. The profession may be getting too comfortable with success and has not maintained eternal vigilance. In the famous words of Margaret Thatcher: "You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it."
So, what's the point? The point is chiropractic has never had more opportunities as a profession than it has today in 2023.
New Advocates for New Challenges
In prior battles for the advancement of the profession, there were clear "exclusion" barriers to entry; no reason needed except that it involved chiropractic. Opposition to chiropractic by the media, political medicine and academia, and the never-ending systematic and illegal subversive boycotts to "exclude" chiropractic advancement, were once ubiquitous. Those challenges are almost non-existent today; however, the battle for "inclusion" is a very different enemy.
The barrier to entry is not hostile, but rather evidence-based. The barrier is not free, but rather requires an economic entry fee. The barriers are not ideology driven, but rather research driven. The key, however, is that advocacy for our profession cannot be completely outsourced.
By that, I mean lobbyists can be hired to provide strategy, outline approaches, and facilitate contacts, but they cannot replace the "one-on-one" advocacy that comes from the members of the profession itself. Passion for the cause, commitment to the effort and dogged tenaciousness to correct the injustices must come from individuals within chiropractic.
You Are in a Unique Position
There is no more compelling argument that can be made for any cause than that made by the individuals affected by the injustice. A chiropractor making a compelling argument in support of the cause they are attempting to change is powerful. The individual on the opposing end of the issue easily recognizes that this effort is being done by volunteers who feel so strongly that they give up their most precious commodity, their time, to advocate for their cause.
The plan would be for doctors of chiropractic to again mobilize in two very distinct ways. The first is to volunteer and/or select those individuals who are willing to devote the time, effort, energy and talent to right a wrong, correct an injustice and advocate for fairness and equality. The second is a simple, but often painful, truth: Nothing happens without money. If you personally are unwilling, unable or simply have faith in those who have volunteered for the first line of advocacy, then simply make a commitment to support the effort until it is done with your dollars.
It is as simple as backing it [whatever it is: research, legislation, political candidates, mentorships, your college, your association (local, state, national) with your bucks! While we hate to think money is the answer, we cannot be so naive as to believe anything can happen without adequate financial backing.
"How Do I Advocate?"
How do I advocate? It can be as simple as a personal visit to your local, state and federal legislators. You can contribute to their campaigns, but they must know the face and the name when they make decisions to support or reject issues affecting chiropractic. Remember, there is well-financed opposition, but it is amazing how a personal contact levels the playing field. Know your legislators personally!
How do I advocate? There are vibrant community chambers of commerce and other local nonprofit groups with community projects that need volunteers. The connection made by selfless service is advocacy without equal. Community organizations are the contacts for many future involvements.
How do I advocate? Volunteer for the myriad projects and programs that exist today, multiplied by drug addiction, the homelessness, the difficulties of our veterans, etc., – all of which require volunteer services. Consider mentoring for local school projects, helping children who need it more than ever in this two-year school delay.
These are obvious advocacy issues; each community and each individual knows what is best for them and their communities. We often just need a little push to rekindle a spirit of commitment to a cause greater than ourselves. "The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." — Mahatma Gandhi
What Will the Next 40 Years Bring?
So, we have come full circle in the 40 years since Dynamic Chiropractic came upon the scene. We have seen and enjoyed the benefits advocacy has provided. But we went into a lull, and it is time to rekindle the spirit that made the profession great and advanced it to where it is today.
There are unsung heroes today doing what they do, often quietly and unassumingly, but there is simply no way they can continue to advance without money, manpower and a rekindling of advocacy. The profession did it before to accomplish our objectives, and we can and must do it again.
Look in the mirror tonight and simply ask yourself: Have I done enough? Have I changed the image of chiropractic in the Court of Public Opinion through my personal advocacy?
Read more findings on my blog: http://blog.toyourhealth.com/ wrblog. You can also visit me on Facebook and Twitter (donpetersenjr, @donaldpetersen).
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.
Click here for previous articles by Louis Sportelli, DC.