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Milestone in Education


January 2, 2009
By Canadian Chiropractor Staff

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In British Columbia (B.C.), the end of 2008 is being celebrated with an exciting new venture in chiropractic education.

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In British Columbia (B.C.), the end of 2008 is being celebrated with an exciting new venture in chiropractic education. On Saturday, November 8, amongst rising mountain mists in Whistler, members of the British Columbia College of Chiropractors (BCCC) and British Columbia Chiropractic Association (BCCA) voted in favour of supporting a new chiropractic education program in their province.

Plans for this program have been evolving for a few years but took a leap forward over the past year, with various large-scale obstacles falling out of the way. The profession in B.C. is now looking to a university-based program which will be housed in a sports and interdisciplinary health and education complex to be built by the Burnaby Mountain Sport and Medicine (BMSM) company.

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“There are many to recognize including the public members of the BCCA Education committee, in B.C. There remains much to be done by the profession.” says Dr. Don Nixdorf, executive director for the BCCC and BCCA, who has been spearheading this initiative from the chiropractic side.

Where we’ve been
Nixdorf, along with BCCC colleagues, Drs. David Olson, Debbie Wright, Patrick Bickert, Heather McLeod, Blake Cameron, Doug Alderson, and Brad Dickson, among others, have been speaking for several years with chiropractors, B.C. universities, the B.C. government and the public regarding the necessity and feasibility of this project. Several false starts made the possibility of a chiropractic program in western Canada appear bleak but Nixdorf and those involved persevered, believing that “bleak” did not equal “impossible”.

The interest shown in chiropractic research at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and, also, at Simon Fraser University (SFU) fueled their conviction that a chiropractic program could be realized.
“The opportunity to create a research chair still remains a short term objective involving discussions with Dr. Peter Ruben, a professor at Simon Fraser University,” says Nixdorf.

Establishing a program in any discipline, requires a great deal of planning in the areas of academic programming, accreditation, university approval, faculty recruitment, facilities design, post-graduate studies, and of course funding. But, on November 8, the BCCC and BCCA boards presented, to attendees at the 2008 annual general meeting, the results of their efforts, thus far, at addressing these requirements and creating a Canadian DC program in the west. They demonstrated that a chiropractic program housed at BMSM is a boon for the public and the profession – both in Canada and abroad.

The case for university-based chiropractic education
Health care, including chiropractic, is facing many challenges at this point in time, and with each challenge comes an opportunity for growth. Public knowledge of chiropractic is at an all-time high, but, still, is nowhere near an optimal level. There are many people out there who are not aware of the benefits of chiropractic care. Fueling this is the fact that the profession is lacking some crucial components, which could raise this level of recognition and confidence. Among these are university-based chiropractic programs and research initiatives. Currently, chiropractic has made great strides in increasing its presence in the university setting, with numerous research chairs being established across the country.

Dr. Silvano Mior, professor and Special Assistant to the President at Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC), university-based programs facilitate important inter-disciplinary clinical and research communication. This breaks down barriers and prejudices that are keeping the profession from realizing its full potential in academic and public spheres. As well, being based in a university setting can provide access to funding for further research initiatives and improved educational programming.

Dr. André-Marie Gonthier, president of the Ordre des Chiropraticiens du Québec, agreed, noting that the rigorous educational standards required in a university setting ensures that the quality of education, as well as standards for research, will be at the highest possible level.

“Chiropractors educated in a setting with such high standards,” notes Gonthier, “will also be accepted into various government programs – here, we will see a merger with the public.”

The new initiative involves bringing the profession into a university in B.C. to take advantage of the growth in research, overseas education, and regional health resource needs. With the successful implementation of this program, chiropractic will see a new venue for opportunities, leading to better health care for Canadians. By supporting this, the profession is showing that it is committed to providing high quality, safe and effective treatment for all Canadians.

“We know that one third of all health care visits involve spine and spine-related conditions,” says Dr. Debbie Wright, BCCA vice president. “Giving the public better access to care will not only effectively meet the needs of an over-burdened health care system, but will do so in a cost-effective manner. This is a crucial issue considering the exponential rise of health care costs each year in Canada.”

Highlights of the journey
Nixdorf and team note that there have been ups and downs in this process, but certain points are worth highlighting.

What has been a long and trying process over the last 10 years has recently gained momentum. With the establishment of any educational program, land and a building had to be secured. Concurrently, curriculum discussions would be needed with existing Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) chiropractic faculty and potential chiropractic educators. And finally, funding, both immediate and long-term, had to be arranged. Each is an essential item, but is not always accomplished in the anticipated sequence.

Two years ago, a golden opportunity appeared in the form of the Burnaby Mountain Sport and Medicine facility. This group saw the potential to build a world class sport and health education, and recreation, facility. Although the exact location is yet to be determined, the lower mainland is an excellent location for this facility: a future world class centre in a beautiful location where the training of both athletes and practitioners can occur, and where the public can come for optimal interdisciplinary health care. Having completed many internal criteria, BMSM is now completely immersed in the completion of this complex.

The reason that BMSM’s new vision represented such a fortuitous development was that they offered space within their facility for a school of chiropractic. Of the estimated 1 million square feet that comprise the BMSM complex, an approximate 100,000 square feet have been dedicated to the new school of chiropractic. Furthermore, the needs of the school of chiropractic are looked upon as guiding the development of the project.

The BCCC and BCCA are indebted to Mr. Ryan Skomorowski who has been the contact at BMSM and has worked tirelessly with and on behalf of the profession to realize this school of chiropractic.

Upon the establishment of the facility, and planning of the CCE curricula, the dialogue can continue to identify possible synergies and mutual academic benefit between the school of chiropractic and academic programs currently offered at Simon Fraser University.

On November 8, at the 2008 AGM in Whistler, B.C., a very important question was put to the BCCC and BCCA members at large. Would the profession in BC be willing to provide the additional support needed to develop a university-based school of chiropractic? After an open discussion, the response was resoundingly positive.

Where we are going
Much work needs to be done towards the goal of matriculating the first class of a chiropractic program in September of 2011. The plan is to admit roughly 100 students a year, for a total of approximately 400 students in the program at a time.

“B.C. chiropractic doctors recognize the opportunity to increase research and education resources to meet public health needs evident everywhere.” says Dr. Nixdorf.

The chiropractic profession, itself, is the cornerstone of funding to support education and research. B.C. chiropractic doctors recognize the unprecedented opportunity for chiropractic, and the public at large, and have shown their commitment to short-term funding needs with a $500-per-member annual contribution for 10 years. All chiropractors, regardless of state or province, are being made aware of chiropractic education in B.C., and are asked to support the completion and success of this new DC program.

This is a very important period for the profession in general, and particularly in Canada. The opportunities to participate in this historic endeavour are within the grasp of each and every DC in the country. The establishment of this new chiropractic education program is an important milestone that clearly demonstrates the potential, and desire, for growth by chiropractic, and by the chiropractors who have answered its call. •

For further information please contact Dr. Don Nixdorf, Executive Director, BCCA/BCCC at  Don@bcchiro.com.


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