Individual DCs can and must make a difference with their commitment to diversity and serving a broad patient population
Less than 1% of licensed chiropractors are black However, it is estimated that the black population of the United States is more than 13%. The result is a significant shortage of practitioners serving the population. The same applies to other registered breeds. But the good news is that the country – and the chiropractic profession – are with renewed determination to face a commitment to diversity, equality and inclusion, and honestly acknowledge that there is still progress to be made. What does diversity, equity and inclusion really mean and how does that apply to you?
Serving a more diverse patient base
“When you talk about a diverse population, you’re talking about a population that has a few people separated by certain aspects or characteristics,” said Micheala Edwards, DC and current president of the American Black Chiropractic Association. “To look at yourself or your unit, organization, school, business, or whatever you want to use this concept, if you want to call them diverse, you need to include every representation of every difference within that group. This is the diversity piece.
“Inclusion means that everyone has a choice to be included. Everyone has their day, their voice is heard. Inclusion within diversity literally offers something that is more rounded and much more powerful because the reach of the external part of that entity has grown exponentially. “
The tumbleweed effect
The lack of a diverse and inclusive DC population means that the chiropractor profession represents only a small number of people. True diversity and inclusion need to reach a much larger audience, says Edwards.
“It is so important to increase the number of different chiropractors and students in this profession,” she said. “With that, they will literally turn around and spread back to communities that have been underserved or that have not been exposed to chiropractic to begin with.”
Edwards compares the movement to a tumbleweed in the wind. The wind blows, whirls up some dust, grabs it and it stumbles and continues to grow. Before you know it, the tumbleweed will get too big to ignore.
“And now you see everyone saying, ‘Oh, are you all over there? What are you all doing? An adaptation, what is it? ‘ And then people just start getting excited about health and wellness, ”she said.
Commitment to diversity: Individual DCs can register
For chiropractic physicians, better service to underserved communities means getting creative with your efforts.
Whether it’s educating community members about the benefits of chiropractic or recruiting and training students for careers in chiropractic, members of the profession need to be committed to diversity and be able to address the problem in a variety of ways.
“Just pick one of the points and start wherever it is,” said Edwards. “Most importantly, they see someone who looks like them standing in front of them so that they have an idea or vision to model from.”
While it is important for members of the Black and Brown communities to see others like them represented in the profession, it is equally important for other races to act as allies of those communities. For example, what can a white chiropractor in the middle of a big city do to reach these populations?
“Where is this clinic?” asks Edward. “That says a lot about who to treat because people don’t travel to the suburbs to adjust. They want to be able to see whatever work they need right in the community they are in. If your goal is to get to the urban core or other underserved communities, you either need to come, leave your clinic and come into the community, or you need to literally connect with an entity in that community to bring the community to you to pull. “
Forging connections and networks and engagement for diversity begins in your own community and expands from there.
Two of the easiest ways to get into a Community of Color are sports and athletics. “That’s the language we speak, and if you can have the parents, you know what? You have a whole household, ”says Edwards.
Chiropractors must join the conversation
It is up to chiropractors to take responsibility for the profession and have their voices heard if they want the profession to be a vital health care provider for the entire population rather than a niche alternative medicine for patients.
“We’re at a crossroads,” says Edwards. “Chiropractic either shows up or just fizzles out. Don’t sit back and be the one to complain. Tell us what you think so we can have an informed conversation and discussion and think about what to add or remove so we can grow this thing and become the gold standard of health and wellness in America. If this does not happen, nothing changes. It won’t grow. “
The goal, says Edwards, “is to enlarge everything, enlarge your practice, enlarge your reach, enlarge the community, enlarge the city, enlarge the state, enlarge the nation. Our struggle is not to adjust patients. It doesn’t reach the Black and Brown community by matching the Black and Brown people. It’s really about the reach and what you can present and the words that actually help you adjust a potential patient’s mindset so they know and understand that chiropractic is really what they need.
“I want to normalize this thought and I say these words very consciously so that everything I want for this goal comes and finds itself. And then, before you know it, this tumbleweed is on fire, baby, and we’re growing. “
Employee of the chiropractic economics. Excerpts from this article are taken from an episode of Chiropractic, NCMIC’s monthly podcast designed to provide DCs with the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to build and develop a practice that enables them to to live a life they love. To learn more about chiropractic care, visit ncmic.com/chiropractic.