ACA Blogs Ask: The ACA President

A Conversation with Dr. N. Ray Tuck

Last month, the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Board of Governors elected N. Ray Tuck, Jr., DC, of Blacksburg, Va., as the association’s new president. He assumes the helm after a period of major transition at ACA, highlighted by key projects intended to better position the association to respond to challenges and opportunities and to leverage the talents and expertise of its members. ACA Blogs editor Annette Bernat sat down with Dr. Tuck recently to discuss the impact the recent changes have made on ACA’s operations as well as its ability to meet members’ needs.

ACA Blogs: First, congratulations on being elected ACA president. We have a few questions for you to help readers become familiar with some of the activities you and the other leaders have been engaged in and the impact they have made on ACA thus far.

Dr. Tuck: Thanks! It has been an exciting few years, and I’m happy to answer any questions.

ACA Blogs: There have been many transitions within ACA recently. Can you explain what some of them are and the “why” behind them?

Dr. Tuck: The last decade brought significant change to the healthcare world. A few years ago, ACA leadership decided that our organization should do a “look within” to ensure we were staying relevant and able to meet the needs of our members. This led to the development of a new strategic plan, which we have used as a compass for the past couple of years. As part of the plan, we conducted a branding assessment to ensure that we are representing our members as they would want. We also did a review of all our operations with our paid team members as well as a review of our governance model. I would say our main goal was to ensure we remain relevant in today’s world.

ACA Blogs: What did you learn from the branding assessment?

Dr. Tuck: There were many findings–too many to mention in this brief interview. There were, however, two notable discoveries worth mentioning here. First, our members really wanted to ensure ACA embraced patient-centered care. In other words, we had to ensure that we always keep our patients’ best interests at the center our conversations and activities. The second idea that resonated loudly was that members want to see the intra-professional fighting stop. It has not served us, or our patients, very well. Of course, that doesn’t mean that all the different groups within chiropractic must agree on all things; rather, we should remain focused on what we all agree on.

ACA Blogs: What has been the response to this information?

Dr. Tuck: I have spoken to many groups in the past couple of months, and the majority of people I speak with have provided extremely positive feedback. They seem very excited on many fronts, but it is the commitment to patient-centered care and the elimination of intra-professional fighting that seem to resonate most.

ACA Blogs: You mentioned the governance changes. What were the biggest changes made to ACA’s leadership structure?

Dr. Tuck: I believe the biggest transitions center around ensuring that ACA stays agile in today’s ever-changing healthcare world. We did this by empowering our House of Delegates with the responsibility of deliberating the most significant topics impacting our profession, which then enables the Board of Governors to more fully understand the issues from a national perspective and to respond accordingly.

Another major change we made was to move away from a model that focused on districts–and potentially personal political agendas–toward one centered on the competencies or skills our volunteer leaders bring to the table. We have specific organizational goals and it is paramount that we get the right people “around the table” to accomplish our goals. Our committees also now function in this manner. We are very hopeful this new model will encourage more diversity at all levels.

Lastly, we now have a smaller board with the goal of making our activities more transparent. In the old model, we had multiple levels of leadership: Executive Committee, Board of Governors, House of Delegates, and a Council of Delegates. This was a great model that served ACA well for more than 50 years, but as technology has advanced, our ability to communicate better enables us to streamline our activities a bit more and allows for more transparency in all our activities. In addition, for the first time, we added a public member to the Board to be the voice of the patient.

ACA Blogs: I have to ask… how is all that change going?

Dr. Tuck: So far really good! The new Board is working great together and we are consistently looking for ways to engage our House of Delegates and our membership. We are already finding that this new governance model allows us to be more responsive to members’ needs.

Also, I mentioned earlier that we were hoping it would encourage diversity in our leadership and we are seeing that occur already. In fact, I have never seen so many early-career doctors stepping up into leadership roles as I have seen in the last year.

ACA Blogs: How would you sum up all the changes at ACA?

Dr. Tuck: I would have to break it down into three areas of focus: 1) patient-centered care, 2) evidence-based care, and 3) collaboration. As we dive deeper into these concepts, I like to think of it this way: “What would I want if I were the patient?” Whether it is understanding care options and having a voice in decisions as my care plan is written, understanding the risks vs. the benefits of a diagnostic test or care modality and knowing the data that exists around its effectiveness, or ensuring all caregivers work together in my best interest, I want to be informed. Most people understand that we, as caregivers, are there to serve our patients. I believe if we, as ACA members, keep the three focus areas at the heart of all our activities, we can’t go wrong.

ACA Blogs: In closing, what about the past couple of years makes you most proud?

Dr. Tuck: I am most proud of our ACA leadership team members as they keep the “spirit” of our work top of mind. In today’s world, it’s so easy to get lost in the trees and miss the forest. Currently, ACA’s leadership is looking at all our activities through the lens of providing better care for patients and ensuring all our efforts help our members be as successful as possible. This is through our advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill as well as developing resources to help our members adapt and thrive in the future. They say cultural change takes time, and ACA leadership has embraced all our transitions while keeping in mind the impact we can have on our members, the profession and the patients we serve.

If you are an ACA member and you have a question (or comment) for Dr. Tuck,
email it to and we’ll try to include it in a future blog post.