If one wants to achieve a grasp of where the profession of chiropractic
is heading, one needs to interact with the thousands of students
currently enrolled in chiropractic educational programs around the
If one wants to achieve a grasp of where the profession of chiropractic is heading, one needs to interact with the thousands of students currently enrolled in chiropractic educational programs around the world. It is in the minds, hearts and sharp intellects of these people that the profession is being shaped, even as current developments in research, education, policy and integration are being pursued by DCs the world over. But, since accessing every student is not physically possible, a bird’s eye view through a cross-section of this population is always a good start. By paying a visit to a chiropractic school, or by interacting with students at one of the many available chiropractic congresses, one can glean an overview of the issues that these young folks feel require immediate attention if the profession is to grow and prosper.
|WCCS alumni are given certificates of appreciation for conducting breakout sessions at the Americas Regional Event and receive recognition for leadership and success in practice made possible through WCCS involvement. Left to right, Dr. Lauren Clum, DC, Dr. Stanton Hom, DC, Dr. Alvin Hsu, DC, Dr. Ankur Tayal, DC, Dr. Jaime Pinillos, DC, Dr. Jeremy Steel, DC, and Dr. Ryan Garcia, DC. James Evans, Life Chiropractic College West
For instance, I recently sat in on a student breakout session at a conference held by an Ontario-based chiropractic group. Witnessing the comments and questions these students presented – the points they wanted addressed by the moderator/speaker and the items they strove to clarify amongst themselves – was, to say the least, illuminating.
Equally important were the themes that seemed strangely foreign to them, not the least of which, I found, was their surprise at being told the extent of the potential they had, as chiropractors and not merely as ancillary caregivers, for making significant differences in the lives of those patients they would encounter in the years to come.
If these people are to become effective practitioners, they must be infused, from an early stage, with a sense that what they are doing, in itself, can potentially make a powerful contribution to individuals and communities. In the face of some of today’s harsh health-care realities, they require the encouragement of experienced leaders in the profession. But they also need a forum where they can connect with their peers, both locally and abroad, so that they can learn from and inspire one another as they matriculate into their chosen profession.
In other words, chiropractic students need to see a bigger picture than is sometimes evident in the midst of the bustle and business of attending classes, studying for exams and surviving clinical internships.
WCCS and the Big Picture
The World Congress of Chiropractic Students (WCCS) is one group dedicated to getting this work done amongst tomorrow’s leaders now, before they step out into the reality of practice. At the crux of this, a key point within the congress’s mission statement reads as follows: “The congress has always been student-driven, inclusive, and has striven to develop greater unity in the global profession.”
Students from around the world attend some, or all, of the many WCCS meetings throughout the year, with a focus on making it to the annual international congress. The WCCS also recently convened in conjunction with the congresses held every two years by the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) in order to encourage dialogue amongst current leaders in the profession. In bringing together chiropractic students within a student-driven environment, this group is able to foster understanding on a number of key issues facing the profession while contributing to the formation of policy and practice within chiropractic on a global level.
But first, a little history
The WCCS is a not-for-profit group that first convened in Chicago in the fall of 1974. Delegates at this meeting were from the United States and Canada. Although this first attempt was considered stimulating, the congress then remained inactive until 1979. Since then, however, it has gathered momentum and, today, holds national and regional meetings that offer several opportunities for networking and dialoguing for its members and any chiropractic student who would like to become involved.
The congress is currently divided into four main regions – Africa, Americas, Europe and Western Pacific – and each school within these regions has a WCCS chapter.
Each year the congress convener (host region) has the opportunity to host the global chiropractic student community in a region chosen by the congress. Conveners have an opportunity to highlight their college, teach their peers about their history and their chiropractic perspective, and lend their guests a taste of life in their home country. In 2011, the WCCS convened in Rio de Janeiro, in concert with the WFC – this represented a break from tradition as, for the first time, the congress was not held in the convener’s home region. The WCCS will be meeting in conjunction with the WFC again in 2013 – students will strive to get themselves to Durban, South Africa, in order to meet with prominent minds in the profession there. In the meantime, Murdoch University will be hosting the 2012 congress in Perth, Australia.
According to Addison Bulosan, Life West student and Americas Regional Event organizer, active membership consists of over 10,000 students, from more than 20 chiropractic colleges worldwide, whose purpose it is to unite the global chiropractic profession through inspiration, integrity and leadership. The group defines 12 objectives that are meant to streamline its goals and vision with respect to this purpose. (These can be found on the WCCS website at www.wccsworldwise.org .)
Through its various committees, the WCCS is also actively involved in developing programs that, while fulfilling the needs of the organization, reflect the development of chiropractic and its students worldwide. Examples of these are the International Mobility Committee, the Chiropractic Humanitarian Assistance Program and the Blue Trunk Library.
A look into a WCCS Meeting
This year, the Life West Chapter of the WCCS held the first Americas Regional Event in Hayward, California. Bulosan tells Canadian Chiropractor: “The event was recognized as a ‘game-changer’ for many of the attendees and prestigious guests. Chiropractic students from 13 schools in four countries on two continents were present. High-profile speakers/guests included Drs. Arno Burnier, Heidi Haavik, Brian Kelly, Gerry Clum, Keith Overland, Joel Alcantara, Mike Flynn, Liam Schubel and Frank Sovinsky, co-author of The E-Myth Chiropractor.
| WCCS member Addison Bulosan is a student at Life West University and Americas Regional Event Organizer.
| Catherine Bezeau is a student at UQTR and a WCCS member.
“The event addressed many hot topics regarding chiropractic education, research, politics and business, all the while strengthening unity amongst chiropractic students around the world. The real magic happened at each breakout session with WCCS alumni leading discussions and creating proposals and action steps to ensure that ideas become reality.
“While we had hoped to make an impact with this event, we had never dreamed of it shaking the very foundation of how we serve as chiropractors. The weekend took the best-of-the-best from each chiropractic school and organization, and created an atmosphere of growth and understanding. The transformation that occurred at this event will contribute to the success of chiropractic for many years to come!”
Attendees at the event were, generally, more than satisfied by the experience. Lauren Donbar of Parker University in Dallas, Texas, says, “Thank you WCCS-Americas regional conference for reigniting my fire!!” Coming all the way from Northwestern University, Heidi Henson notes, “What a phenomenal conference – a huge success!”
Catherine Bezeau, a student from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR) chiropractic program, discusses attending a WCCS congress: “When we meet during the congress, everything is very formal and professional. For a week we are reunited with our peers from around the world, excited about all the amazing things to come! We work hard all day long, talking about all the proposals that every college and chapter has prepared, and we have great speakers inspiring us! In the evening, we enjoy the company of all those people who are actually our friends, even though some of us hardly know each other.”
Canadian Involvement in WCCS
The WCCS has chapters in Canada that comprise a number of students from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) and the chiropractic program at UQTR. In addition, it receives the support and assistance of such notable DCs as Toronto’s Dr. Deborah Kopansky-Giles.
“The students from CMCC and from UQTR have been members of the WCCS, respectively, since 2000 and 2003,” Bezeau tells Canadian Chiropractor. “Students from both schools are very motivated to belong to the WCCS and about the potential it has and what it can accomplish. Furthermore, we often see that involved students become involved chiropractors. So for me, the WCCS is really a gateway to involvement in our profession.”
“Also,” Bezeau continues, “I personally think that Canadian chiropractors are an important part of the chiropractic community, and, therefore, so are Canadian students. We have a different environment – a way of thinking that may be different, as well as a teaching and cultural context of our own. Furthermore, I feel that it is important that Canada be represented at both the WFC at WCCS congresses! D.D. Palmer was Canadian, after all!”
Pursuing opportunities to foster leadership
Unfortunately, representation at international congresses can be difficult for students to attain.
“Our chapter meets a little over an hour every week to work on proposals that we want to present at the congresses. But, much of our time goes also to fundraising, in an effort to sponsor one of our students to attend the international conferences. This part of our meetings takes much longer than would be desirable – as the conferences are international, and so, not really next door, it is hard for us to find funding to send one of our members.”
However, with respect to attendance at WFC congresses, Bezeau says, “It is only logical that the future leaders of our profession are in contact as much as possible with our present leaders. Having lived the experience in Rio de Janeiro (WFC 2011), chiropractors and students find themselves enriched by this proximity. Students can benefit from the wisdom of experienced chiropractors; chiropractors find themselves impressed and pleasantly surprised by the will, energy and passion that exists in our meetings.”
Dr. Greg Stewart, a Winnipeg-based DC and first vice-president of the WFC, echoes some of Bezeau’s thoughts: “The WFC has partnered with the WCCS in order to learn from students, absorbing and being influenced by their optimism regarding growth for a patient-centred profession and developing a synergy that will result in today’s student leaders becoming the profession’s leaders tomorrow.” He adds, “The profession can realize rapid progress and huge results if we cultivate strong leadership with a clear vision in mind.”
How to Become Involved
“The WCCS is recognised for continually changing global consciousness. We achieve this through addressing education, legislation, healthcare reform and the understanding of chiropractic and its contribution to the optimal expression of human health and potential. The WCCS is positively influencing chiropractic globally by contributing to a united profession that honours diversity and acceptance. We achieve this through excellence and universal ambition, upholding the integrity of chiropractic students and the profession itself.”
This excerpt is taken from the vision statement established by the WCCS. Descriptions of what is necessary to achieve a sustainable chiropractic profession are numerous and represent converging and diverging perspectives and opinions. But if one looks carefully at this vision statement, one can find roots for sustainability, namely, unity, acceptance and honouring diversity while continuously examining current policy and practices. The goal of these practices is to ensure integrity and excellence and that the maximum beneficial and integrated contribution is being upheld.
Chiropractic students around the world are invested and dedicated to ensuring their profession grows in a stable and patient-centred fashion.
They recognize that for this to happen they must aspire to work as a global chiropractic community with one another and with experienced DCs. The WCCS is a major contributor to this effort that will inject new energy into the profession for years to come. Canadian students are prominent players in the WCCS and in the world chiropractic community and wish to remain as involved as they possibly can.
If you would like to work with the WCCS in some capacity, or assist in funding a student from CMCC and/or UQTR to attend an international conference – in particular, the 2013 WFC Biennial Congress in Durban, South Africa – please contact WCCS members through their website at www.wccsworldwide.org .
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