Dr. Perle is a professor of clinical sciences at the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic, where he has taught an ethics course for more than 15 years. To read ACA’s code of ethics, visit www.acatoday.org/ethics. Send questions to email@example.com.
A CHIROPRACTOR FRIEND OF MINE, who is a bit older than I am, asked why I continue to do so much volunteer work for our profession. My committee assignments for ACA, Fédération Internationale de Chiropratique du Sport or being an editor for Chiropractic & Manual Therapies or writing on ethics for ACA or Dynamic Chiropractic don’t help pay the bills, are not particularly praised by some in our profession (in fact I get attacked quite often) and take up a lot of “free” time. One might ask that question of many involved as volunteers for their state, national and international organizations.
I told my friend that I care. That it is my profession and I’m persistent. I joked that hitting my head intermittently against a wall will only stimulate osteoblastic activity and make my head harder than the wall. Or it just could be part of the inside joke some of my friends have, that we all have vitamin N deficiencies. You won’t find vitamin N in a physiology or biochemistry book. Vitamin N is the vitamin you need to be able to say no.
At the SACA Leadership Conference held recently at the University of Bridgeport College of Chiropractic, I spoke on developing future leaders by creating vitamin N deficiencies. But as I thought more about this, I realized that vitamin N deficiencies are really created by our parents. They teach us our values. They teach us what we should want out of life and what we should do to get it.
“Values” is a word bandied about very often by many people. We think we know what it means, but then poor usage perverts the meaning. In this context, the Oxford English Dictionary defines values as “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.” Dr. Milton Rokeach was a social psychologist who in 1973 wrote the book The Nature of Human Values. Therein he described two sets of 18 instrumental and terminal values called the Rokeach Value Survey (RVS). The list of values can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rokeach_Value_Survey. The terminal values are those items you want out of life, and the instrumental values are the values you use to get them.
Socrates wrote that a “life which is unexamined is not worth living.” I think RVS provides a method to examine one’s life. To use the RVS, one ranks each list of 18 values from 1 to 18.
Near the top of my list for instrumental values is to be helpful (i.e., working for the welfare of others). I think it must be near the top of the list for most chiropractors. Isn’t that why we became doctors, to help others? For the person who lists being helpful as a very highly ranked instrumental value, the feeling that we get when a patient who was suffering and now is well is beyond compare. It is hard for those who have not experienced it to know how great that feeling is.
Near the top of my list for terminal values is a sense of accomplishment (i.e., making a lasting contribution). It seems I’ve taken to heart what Horace Mann, the great educator, said: “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
In the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the author Stephen Covey writes that when one’s area of concern is much larger than one’s area of influence, then one is distressed. Thus, I’ve decided to expand my influence to reduce my distress. Helping our profession reach more people is the victory I’m working for and it’s why I keep volunteering for our profession. What values are you using and what values do you desire in the end?