Editor’s Note: July-August 2012
By Maria DiDanieliFeatures Education Profession
I recently heard that the University Health Network in Toronto is
seeking an advanced practice leader for its Interprofessional Spine
Assessment and Education clinics
I recently heard that the University Health Network in Toronto is seeking an advanced practice leader for its Interprofessional Spine Assessment and Education clinics – this flagship patient care and research institution is inviting DCs to apply. Not long after this, the Halton Healthcare group of hospitals in southern Ontario announced that it is looking for a staff chiropractor to join its multidisciplinary Work-Fit Therapy Centre. I have also been informed of a recent pilot study in Ontario that showed how team collaboration between family physicians and DCs can produce significant positive results in low-back-pain patients and that family physicians are in favour of this interdisciplinary model of care.
I couldn’t possibly cite all the examples of inter-team efforts involving chiropractic the world over. They are found in community-based clinics and in tertiary care centres. They are seen in the efforts of chiropractic organizations to work with local medical authorities, and other health-care personnel, in areas of the world where chiropractic is still not available. In many chiropractic schools, a growing awareness of the benefits of collaboration and integrative care has led student groups to reach out to other health-care training programs in an effort to learn with, and from, each other. These are all marvellous developments!
But there is one tricky component to working with other disciplines, and that is maintaining the full import and character of the discipline one represents within the collaboration. The literature surrounding interdisciplinary health-care initiatives addresses the phenomenon where one or more of the participants in a group find their contribution swept under the carpet in favour of the dominant, or leading, discipline’s approach. And although, in order to uphold the best interest of the patient, one has to, at times, be willing to concede that the most beneficial approach is not one’s own, one also has to remember that one brings important elements to the table that should not be repeatedly brushed aside. This is a delicate balance to negotiate and achieve. In order to work within an interdisciplinary team, one has to operate with the firm conviction that one’s contribution is, in its own right, valuable.
Chiropractic educational institutions have a significant role to play in instilling this sense of worth within future practitioners. Your students need to matriculate into practice with a strong identity as doctors of chiropractic – and, as such, be equipped to make valuable, chiropractic-based contributions to the collaborative care model that is infusing our health systems. Students can and do work together to build a sense of unity and develop leadership goals. But one cannot underestimate the power that chiropractic schools have to teach the dynamics and intricacies of interprofessional efforts and to instil a sense of the value of what DCs bring to the table.
I personally am happy to see chiropractic being invited into interprofessional care initiatives and to read about studies that will lend support to this occurring more often. I understand, first-hand, the benefits of chiropractic and I’ve always been a staunch proponent of collaborative-care approaches. I encourage DCs – in general, but especially those who enter into collaborative efforts – to cultivate and maintain a strong sense of what your discipline can offer and how to use this judiciously. I hope that chiropractic students are infused with these notions early on so that they will go forth and contribute, in a chiropractic-based manner, to the excellent interdisciplinary movements already in progress and to those yet to come.
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