Young Professionals: What Is Your Vision for Practice?

By Robert C. Jones, DC, ACA President

It has become quite evident that our profession is at a watershed moment.  Some want no differential diagnosing, high-volume, no-insurance practices.  Others want integrated, very clinically interprofessional practices that participate in the evolving insurance reimbursement models. And then there are those who want … something in between. Now is such a different time compared with when most of the leaders in our profession graduated, knowing they were going into solo or generational family practices. When I graduated, for example, it was considered cutting-edge practice for non-family members to join together to form a multi-chiropractor clinic.

As I watch the chiropractic profession struggle with the issues that make these types of practices different, I cannot help but wonder what our young professionals think. Some are taught in schools of very traditional thought, and others are taught in very progressive schools of thought.  What do they think when they look at the ACA House of Delegates and see physicians who are generationally different in thinking and practice than the way they want to practice?  Do they have concerns that the established (older) generation of physicians will not look to them for input on how they want to practice when chiropractic healthcare policies are made? The student ACA (SACA) members I have talked with, when we met in Washington, know their education is on par with other primary care/portal-of-entry providers, yet the reality is that they are limited, once in practice, depending on the state scope of practice. Then other SACA members will comment to me regarding how chiropractic education is much too intense for the tractional way they wish to practice. As a profession, how do we reconcile these differences so that our young professionals can have a long and fulfilling life of clinical experiences?

Being an ACA leader, I struggle with this as I discuss with leadership the future projection of our practice.  I am ever grateful for the foresight of [ACA Vice President] Dr. Michele Maiers, who recognized this years ago and lead the formation of the ACA NextGen. This group is made up of ACA members who have been practicing for five years or less. The NextGen works on issues that affect them and that are generally off the radar of established physicians. By interacting with these young professionals, it is evident to me that their aspirations in clinical practice enviroments and experience are very different than when I graduated. It’s abundantly clear to me also that integration of the younger professionals in our leadership structure is necessary to ensure they have a voice in our developing healthcare policies and interprofessional interactions. As such, it is important that we start a dialogue between the generations of physicians. It’s my hope that this blog will initiate that dialogue.

To the young professionals: I ask that you share your dream of what chiropractic is to you. … What do you envision as the clinical setting and patient base you would like to treat?  What chiropractic health policies do you think are needed to support your clinical paradigm?  What mentorship/experience are you looking for from the generations of physicians before you?  What thoughts do you have regarding how we can implement change