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McAulay Presents Testimony to Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine

APRIL 12, 2001 - Sherman College Interim President Brian J. McAulay, D.C., Ph.D., recently presented testimony on behalf of the chiropractic profession to the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. The Commission will give U.S. President George W. Bush legislative and administrative recommendations to assure that public policy maximizes the benefits of services such as straight chiropractic. McAulayís testimony follows:

Thank you for this opportunity to share information with you about how the chiropractic profession can best serve the American people. As a licensed doctor of chiropractic, I was in private practice for 13 years in Pennsylvania. In addition, I have served as a faculty member for many years educating students in chiropractic technique and philosophy. Today, I serve as interim president of Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Chiropractic is a 62,000-member strong profession in North America with licensed doctors of chiropractic in all 50 states, U.S. territories and Canada. It is the nationís third largest primary health care profession, after medicine and dentistry. Founded in 1895 in the United States, the profession has grown throughout the world. The publicís use of chiropractic care has grown dramatically in recent years with 37 percent of the U.S. population having sought chiropractic care. Annual visits to chiropractors exceed the visits to any other practitioner of alternative health care used by American consumers.

Chiropractic is based on the premise that the bodyís innate recuperative powers are affected by and integrated through the nervous system. Chiropractic is a science and art devoted to the location, analysis and correction of vertebral subluxations, misaligned vertebrae of the spine that interfere with the ability of the nervous system to coordinate and control the organs and systems of the body. Many health-conscious people make chiropractic a regular part of their health regimen, along with such sound practices as exercise, good nutrition, stress management and regular medical check-ups. Chiropractic is a separate and distinct field that does not compete with the practice of medicine or the use of alternative therapies.

According to the 2000-2001 U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook and Career Guide, employment of chiropractors is expected to grow faster than the average for all occupations through the year 2008 as consumer demand for alternative health care continues to grow. The education required to become a licensed doctor of chiropractic is rigorous, similar to that required for a medical doctor. All students entering chiropractic college must have completed 90 semester hours of prerequisite courses at an accredited undergraduate college. Once enrolled in chiropractic college, students complete approximately 4,600 hours of instruction. This is typically accomplished through approximately 13 academic quarters requiring three and a half years of full-time study, or the equivalent of five years of study on a traditional semester system. Upper-quarter students complete a one-year internship in a college-based chiropractic health center where they provide comprehensive chiropractic care to the public under the supervision of licensed doctors of chiropractic.

There are currently 16 chiropractic colleges in the United States and all are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Chiropractic Education, a professional accrediting body recognized by the United States Department of Education. The process for receiving CCE accreditation is similar to that required by the regional and professional bodies that accredit other institutions of higher education.

The chiropractic profession has grown and prospered in this country based on the publicís demands for these important services. The profession has traditionally received little to no federal support and throughout its history has often been thwarted in its attempts to be included in such crucial programs as insurance reimbursement for care, inclusion in Medicare reimbursement and inclusion in health services offered to the U.S. military.

I recommend the following actions to the Commission to ensure the availability of the highest quality of chiropractic education in the United States:

- Allocate federal funds for chiropractic college-based research programs, as is currently done in the nationís medical schools. The nationís top 50 medical schools alone in 1999 received more than $6.5 billion in research funding through the National Institutes of Health. Directing federal funding to research efforts in the wellness and preventive health paradigm that explores ways to help people avoid serious health problems and enjoy greater function and performance (rather than supporting only traditional biomedical research that is treatment- and condition-based) would help reduce our nationís dependence on expensive medical interventions once disease states and conditions have manifested.

- Provide student loan and debt relief for chiropractic college graduates who locate practices in underserved areas of the country, or devoted to particularly underserved segments of the population.

- Provide direct support of chiropractic college education, as is done in traditional medical schools, to assist in the education of the nationís health care providers.

- Formally recognize the value and appropriateness of the meta-therapeutic health care paradigm that focuses on enhancing performance and function, rather than treating disease.

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