Dr. Sonia Rodrigue is a graduate
of the chiropractic program at the Université du Québec a
Trois-Rivières. Having matriculated from the program in 1999, she moved
to France, where she worked, on a temporary visa, for four months. In
2001, Dr. Rodrigue, settled in France with her new husband, achieved
her resident status and began working in Dinard, near Saint-Malo on the
Côte d’Emeraude (Emerald Coast) in Brittany.
Dr. Sonia Rodrigue is a graduate of the chiropractic program at the Université du Québec a Trois-Rivières. Having matriculated from the program in 1999, she moved to France, where she worked, on a temporary visa, for four months. In 2001, Dr. Rodrigue, settled in France with her new husband, achieved her resident status and began working in Dinard, near Saint-Malo on the Côte d’Emeraude (Emerald Coast) in Brittany.
Dr. Rodrigue runs a very busy practice, in partnership with a graduate from Palmer College in the United States. “Very busy” is defined somewhat differently, however, in their area, than it might be in many practices in Canada.
“We see two patients an hour,” says Rodrigue, “because our method of evaluating and treating each patient is very thorough and takes a long time. But the day goes quickly as we are seeing patients all day.”
“Summers are particularly busy,” adds Rodrigue. “Our town hosts many vacationing families who come from Paris and elsewhere. Likewise, in our practice, we actually have entire families of patients who come back, year after year, for chiropractic adjustments throughout the summers.”
PRACTICE AND COMMUNITY NETWORKS
Dr. Rodrigue’s clinic is networked with other practitioners in her town. These networks involve midwives, acupuncturists and some kinesiology specialists. Both Rodrigue and her partner are International Chiropractic Pediatric Association (ICPA) certified chiropractors – hence their association with midwives, who refer patients from hospitals as well as from private practice. Associating with practitioners of acupuncture is valuable for many reasons, including the fact that they can issue X-ray requisitions to patients, whereas chiropractors, in France, have limited privileges in this area.
Given the limitations on chiropractors in France with respect to radiological assessments, and the fact that they are not permitted to use any sort of electrotherapy device, Rodrigue’s practice is based on a hands-on manipulation paradigm.
Dr. Rodrigue does not conduct screenings or public education seminars, per se – as this is not something the community is particularly open to. However, a few years ago, Rodrigue and her partner, along with other local chiropractors, received permission to set up a booth at an annual running marathon event, in order to educate the athletes, and any others present, about chiropractic. The booth still functions, every year, at this event but is now staffed by students, from France’s chiropractic training college, who come into town for the event.
“Also, there are other chiropractors in France who are affiliated with teams of various sporting events,” she notes.
CHIROPRACTIC IN FRANCE
The profession of chiropractic was recognized by the French government in March of 2002 and there are currently 490 chiropractors practising in that country. These DCs are awaiting the completion of legislative regulations that will define practitioner training and scope of practice. Rodrigue says this will streamline the profession in the country and may also facilitate an increase of coverage by private insurance companies for chiropractic services. (There are currently some – albeit very few – companies who provide meagre coverage for chiropractic. No state coverage is currently in place.)
There is one chiropractic training college in France – the Institut Franco-europeen de Chiropratique. Its main campus is located in Ivry-sur-Seine, in the southeastern suburbs of Paris, and it has added a new annex, which opened in Toulouse in 2007. It is an independent institution – recognized by the World Health Organization and accredited by the European Council on Chiropractic Education – which offers a six-year academic program resulting in a “Doctor of Chiropractic de l’European Chiropractors’ Union” title for its graduates.
Rodrigue notes that, in France, the medical profession is still quite leery of chiropractic and is, in fact, prone to discouraging patients from pursuing it. Because of this, public opinion of chiropractic can be, at best, lukewarm, and patients who come to a chiropractor’s
office for the first time often do so as a last resort.
“But even this mentality is changing,” says Rodrigue, “because patients want more and more to be treated ‘naturally’, without medication.
“Many of these people are in a lot of pain and have been for a very long time,” says Dr. Rodrigue. “Also, they are very unsure about trying this type of treatment. But, at the same time, they look up to you as the person who might be able to heal them. It’s quite interesting to feel their open trust when they come to you for help. And once you have their confidence, it’s normally a real confidence and lasts for a long time – this trust, and knowing that we really can help them, helps us continue doing what we do.”
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