Chiro Cleanup – Part 3: School’s Out(dated)

I mentioned in my most recent post that much of the typical chiropractic education ranks somewhere between “a for-profit trade school…and a…religious cult”.  That might be/sound harsh, but I wasn’t lying.

Back it up, you say?  Fair enough.  Oh, let me count the ways…

Maybe it was the (well-known) fact that if you’re intelligent enough to sign your name on the dotted line, you’re in.  Sure, they needed your transcripts, but they accepted anything above a 2.5 overall GPA (3.0 in the sciences themselves).

Keep in mind that you could get these classes (and, unfortunately, said pathetic GPA) at a community college, many of which are easier than public high school.  No entrance exams.  No essays, really.  No interviews.  No prestigious acceptance.  If you were willing to shell out 6 figures on a wind-and-a-prayer career, you were golden.  No class size limitations.  Teacher-student ratios are horrendous.

Or maybe it was the 3 separate “Chiropractic Philosophy” classes (always taught by the most “straight”/”Principled” chiropractors the school could get their hands on, and NEVER any “mixers”), at different pivotal points along the program (Term 1, when all of us are idealistic, optimistic, and impressionable; Term 3, when many of us started to feel our first frustration and inadequacy because–get this–we weren’t exactly getting the most out of our adjusting classes; and Term 6, when most of us were burned out, broken down, depressed, cynical, suffering twice-weekly emotional breakdowns, and completely off the deep end, not being able to continue looking at our situation through rosy-colored glasses).  I think, being big boys and girls, that we could’ve made our own decisions and cultivated our own philosophy, TYVM.

Or maybe it was the constant references to “wellness” philosophy that was drilled into our otherwise-generally-stellar faculty by our not-so-stellar micromanaging administration, to the point where some of our instructors couldn’t hide their cynicism and made subtle little jokes here and there.  Sure, wellness is a good thing and that’s the general approach DCs gravitate toward and advocate, but the profs are there to teach us the foundational science and solid clinical procedures/application that we need to become good doctors, not preach wellness.  Dr. K’s job was to teach physiology and endocrinology and Dr. G’s job was to teach lab diagnosis and nutrition – neither one of them should’ve been saddled with preaching more “wellness”.  I think we can figure that out on our own, too.

Or could it have been the cultish camp, a required weekend away, to hell with your cats or disabilities?  This weekend at a second-rate Baptist camp (thank God remaining gluten-free wasn’t an issue yet) consisted of team-building exercises (the fun part) followed by a crying session with a blathering spokespuppet for an irrelevant chiro-toy (I won’t name names but it begins with “Sub” and ends with “Station”).  This idiot was nowhere near a licensed counselor and yet elicited strong emotions by uncovering hurts from childhood without any way to process them with a licensed professional.  Yay.

Speaking of chiro-toys, maybe my distaste had something to do with chiro-company-sponsored classes and their private-label PowerPoint presentations (I’m staring at you, Activator Methods, Erchonia, and Thera-Band!).

What took the cake, though, was that some of the most important classes (Clinical Neurology, Advanced Clinical Diagnosis, and the second installment of Case Management) were handed to the absolute worst man for the job.  This instructor had a one-track mind; he (thought he) knew a lot about one subject and guess what – he was completely wrong.  So term after term, the entire student body gets completely hosed, cheated out of a good education on some extremely crucial subjects.  These are the kinds of classes whose information can potentially make or break you years down the road.  And they handed them to that guy.

Actually no – what really took the cake was the assemblies and seminars (for which attendance was forced).  Predigested, frequently-recycled straight-chiro yes-men and women who preached the same homogenous dogmatic mantras to an increasingly restless and cynical student body.  Maybe that’s why people in their last term of school weren’t even required to attend anymore.

And the icing on said cake?  The new patients we had to recruit into the clinic, and the seemingly increasing hoops that must be jumped through in order for that new recruit to be counted.  They never told you this before you signed up.  Google it – I dare you; there is no mention of this requirement anywhere on any school websites.  Yet, even in times of the massage therapy field elevating itself above having to recruit in order to graduate a massage therapy program, chiropractic schools continue to mandate this as a requirement for graduation.  What’s worse is, CCE (Chiropractic Council on Education, which sets the school curriculum and theoretically serves as a unifying body for a very divided profession) lets it continue by not banning the practice.

Shame shame.

So, we’re going to make you bring in 10 new people.  They can’t be your family (they sure could before).  They shouldn’t be your friends (we’d disallow that outright, but we can’t prove whether or not someone’s your friend).  Oh, and you can’t print business cards.  You can only use the (ridiculously unattractive) ones sanctioned by the school.  Oh, and you can’t print flyers either.  Or advertise.  Or target any particular populations.  This left many of us saying, WTF?

In the end, many of us had to attend board review classes to ensure that we passed national board exams, and we had to attend adjusting seminars (or resort to instrument methods) to learn to adjust.  Some of us even sought the help of practice management companies to help us with the business side of things to ensure we survived financially.  All of this left many of us wondering what we paid six figures to sweat through (four years crammed into) three years of school.

And of course, there are rumors.  (Aren’t there always?)  School presidents drawing fat salaries as tuition skyrockets to (and past) the $10k/term mark.  Shady practices abound – for example, it’s a good thing that getting a D in a class no longer qualifies as a passing grade.

However, if you fail a single class in a term, some schools are having you repeat the entire term over again, even if you got A’s in all the other classes.  Scientologists, unscientific chiro-tool companies, and substandard supplement companies are infiltrating and buying up the naming rights to clinics and are beginning to influence the curriculum, class material/lesson plans, and graduation requirements.

Apparently things have gotten worse in the short time since we graduated.  I didn’t think they could get any worse or more crooked; I was wrong.  My gut feeling now is that they’ll get much worse in years to come.  This time, let’s hope I’m wrong.

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