Catching Up with ACA President Dr. Robert C. Jones

Robert C. Jones, DC, has been busy since January assuming his new duties as ACA president, and eager to keep the progress moving on ACA’s priorities. The son of two chiropractors, a graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, and a strong proponent of evidence-informed practice and integration, he brings to ACA’s helm a respect for chiropractic’s history combined with an appreciation of what it takes to practice successfully in modern health care. ACA Blogs caught up with Dr. Jones recently to ask him a few questions.

In what way do you feel you can contribute to ACA as president at this time?

I’ve always believed our profession is a mainstream provider. I consider us physicians. Our profession needs to step up and participate in health care as a first-contact profession. I’ve always had a passion for that. As president of the New Mexico Chiropractic Association, I also gained a lot of experience advocating to legislators on Capitol Hill and passing legislation. In addition, I’ve been a board member at the University of Western States, which is a strong proponent of chiropractic integration.

What do you believe are the priorities for ACA and/or chiropractic for the next year?

During the coming year, we’re committed to achieving parity for chiropractors in Medicare. I truly believe that, down the path, the Medicare bill is going to have an effect that every chiropractor should be behind.

In addition, we support increased access to chiropractic services for veterans and their families. We’re committed to further awareness of chiropractic as a profession that seeks to decrease society’s dependency on pharmaceutical drugs and invasive procedures, and to be recognized as a first-contact care option for patients. Just as importantly, we are continuing to be a responsive, efficient and member-focused organization. I would also like to see ACA continue to build a collaborative environment with payers.

For the past year, you have been a member of the new, smaller board installed as part of the historic governance changes implemented in 2018. How is that going?

It’s honestly one of the healthiest boards I’ve ever served on. Because of the smaller size, it’s more difficult to create silos from one another—that’s a good thing. As a result, people on the board ask each other questions and express concerns. We have a very honest dialogue, and nobody takes it personally. We have healthy, open debates.

I want us to be truly unified in our leadership and decisions. More often than not, after we hash things out, everyone is in agreement. This new structure is really going to serve the association and the membership.

What impact has the new ACA brand had on you as a member or as a leader?

ACA is already the most respected chiropractic organization in health care. I didn’t start out as an ACA member in my career, but as I began practicing I eventually realized I needed to join. I really believed then, as I do now, that integration was more fulfilling for practitioners and better for patients. The new brand supports that belief.

We know that what we do is efficacious, and we must show that through evidence-informed practice. Otherwise we look silly to other groups. We at ACA haven’t forgotten our history, but this is how we must practice if we want to participate in a collaborative, patient-centric, evidence-informed health care delivery system.

The brand also helps when we go to legislators and other decision makers. We can say clearly, “This is what we stand for.”

For the first time, ACA has a member of the public on its board. How enlightening has it been to have his input?

I really like having [Stephen C. Roberts, JD] on the board. Many of the college boards today have lay members and it works well. It adds a new dimension. Stephen can check me if I’m reacting too strongly over something. Sometimes this “underdog” conditioning that we have as chiropractors can get in the way of making a realistic assessment of a situation. Stephen helps us think out of the box when that happens. He helps us to look at an issue with different optics.

What is one characteristic that you believe every leader should possess?

Personally, I’m trying to operate in a very open, inclusive manner. For example, I’m trying to make sure every board member knows what I know. ACA Vice President Dr. Michele Maiers also participates in almost all meetings I attend, and then the meetings are reported out to the rest of the Board of Governors. If ever the need arises, Dr. Maiers or other board members can step in without hesitation.

Being attentive to the ideas and concerns of our members is also important to me. My seat on the board will be up next year, so I’ll have to run again if I want to stay on the board. It makes me have to be better. I can’t take anything for granted. There are going to be a bunch [of young ACA members] that are going to be fantastic leaders. I need to show up and listen to them.

I’m reminded of a quote by the late Native American leader Gordon Tootoois: “Leadership is about submission to duty, not elevation to power.” I take very seriously my submission to duty to serve ACA and its members.

What’s your message to ACA members, especially the younger ones?

We should practice to the top level of our education. Once while testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Dr. Clyde Jensen, a former medical school and osteopathic school president and former vice president of the University of Western States, said that chiropractic is one of the most highly educated and underutilized physician groups in the United States. I agree. So, I tell young physicians: Fight for everything you are worth.