ACA and Diversity: Inclusion Through Action

At the 2018 National Chiropractic Leadership Conference (NCLC), the newly formed ACA Commission on Diversity presented its first report to attendees at the House of Delegates meeting. The commission is a task force whose function is to “help ACA achieve a deeper understanding of diversity issues in chiropractic generally and ACA specifically. The commission is charged with generating a strategic road map for ACA’s Board of Governors, outlining ways ACA can become more diverse, improve the practice success of our women and minority members, serve diverse populations within the American population better, as well as other diversity issues of which ACA leadership should be aware.”

ACA leadership put a call out in fall 2017 for interested parties to submit volunteer application packets for consideration of appointment to the taskforce. There was a total of 28 applicants, and seven appointments made to the commission. An example of the diversity that exists among ACA membership is apparent among the commission’s members, who represent:

  • linguistic variance with five languages spoken
  • the children of immigrants
  • members of the LGBTQ community
  • women (three of the seven members are female)
  • Latin-Americans
  • African-Americans
  • and Asian-Americans

Our commission members are excited about doing this important work and look forward to increasing our own capacity for cultural competence.

Why Diversity Matters

Commission members have spent time reviewing the work of other representative organizations for health care professionals, and we read the existing literature related to diversity and chiropractic.

We found 2012 to be an important year where diversity was a major topic across the profession. The theme that year for the Association of Chiropractic Colleges annual conference was diversity. There was also the publication of two essential papers. We are thankful to Claire Johnson, DC, and her collaborators for publishing a launch pad for our own work. There are some eye-opening data points we find noteworthy. One paper notes the racial/ethnic distribution of the chiropractic workforce as 84.9 percent white compared to 54.5 percent of medical doctors.1 The same paper notes the projected U.S. population distribution to be just 51 percent white in 2050.

The second paper offers readers an opportunity to explore the viewpoints of varied authors with the purpose of advancing the chiropractic profession. The conclusion of that paper resoundingly highlights the important work of our commission. “Over the next decades, changing demographics in North America will alter how the chiropractic profession functions on many levels. As the patient population increases in diversity, we will need to prepare our workforce to better meet the needs of future patients and society.”2

Our Charter

The charter of the Diversity Commission states, “Diversity is an inclusive concept and encompasses, without limitation, race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, nationality, age, disability, socioeconomic, marital and parental status. With greater diversity, ACA can bring varied perspectives, experiences, backgrounds, talents and interests to its membership and the profession at large. ACA recognizes that achieving diversity is an evolutionary process that requires a continued renewal of its commitment to strategies of inclusion.

ACA’s Diversity Commission has been charged with generating a strategic road map for ACA’s Board of Governors that outlines ways in which ACA can become more diverse, improve the practice success of our women and minority members, serve diverse populations within the American population better, and identify other diversity issues of which ACA leadership should be aware.”

Our Road Map

We believe ACA can greatly effect change through a foundational approach of three primary components:

  • education
  • leadership
  • collaboration

Each component has been reflected in our plan for the next five years, as we set goals for the development of robust diversity and inclusion initiatives.

We will offer immediacy through deliverables for ACA members, with a focus on interesting and clinically applicable information and education around cultural competence, cultural literacy and cultural humility. We will share relevant research as it becomes available, write blog posts, encourage scholarship and publication, and develop media/social media recommendations for ACA.

Our priorities for the long term include influencing an ACA position statement related to diversity and the development, and then implementation, of a Strategic Diversity Initiative Plan.

Our Conversation

We hope to engage in fruitful dialogue around topics of diversity and inclusion with ACA members to enhance the capacity of our colleagues and improve the health of our patients. We encourage you to reach out to commission members, make use of the MyACA forum to ask questions, and to consider how we can best serve each other and our patients. Please consider our work an invitation to collaborate. The commission meets monthly and can accommodate additional topics for consideration on our agenda. Look for our new blog series on diversity, and ask a colleague to give our blogs a read.

Dr. William Foshee serves as chair of the ACA Commission on Diversity and is a member of the NextGenACA committee. He practices in Vermont, where he represents his district as the alternate delegate to ACA. Dr. Foshee is an April 2017 graduate of Northwestern Health Sciences University. There he was honored as a Diversity Leadership Scholar for his commitment to underserved population health. He was also named a Philanthropy Fund Foundation Scholar in recognition of his leadership and service to the LGBTQIA community.


  1. Johnson CD, Green BN. Diversity in the chiropractic profession: preparing for 2050. J Chiropr Educ. 2012;26(1):1-13.
  2. Johnson C, Killinger LZ, Christensen MG, et al. Multiple views to address diversity issues: an initial dialog to advance the chiropractic profession. J Chiropr Humanit. 2012;19(1):1-11.