Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Moving up: One-on-one with the new CMCC president

Mari-Len De   

Features Leadership Profession

When Dr. Jean Moss announced last year she is ending her 24-year service as president of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, the next several months were spent searching for the best, qualified executive to fill some pretty big shoes.

When Dr. Jean Moss announced last year she is ending her 24-year service as president of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, the next several months were spent searching for the best, qualified executive to fill some pretty big shoes. Last May, the school announced the appointment of Dr. David Wickes, then dean of the College of Chiropractic at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, as its new president.

Dr. David Wickes. Photo: CMCC



Canadian Chiropractor magazine got an opportunity to speak with Wickes and get a sense of the man who will sit at the helm of the institution that plays a big part in shaping the future of the chiropractic profession in Canada. Following are excerpts from the interview.

What are your expectations coming into this role?
David Wickes (DW):
My expectations are that we will have a very collaborative working environment between the governing board, the administration, me as the president, the faculty, the students, the alumni and the Canadian profession. I think we will have a wonderful time getting to know each other and working very closely together.

What will the first 100 days in your new role look like?
: The first 100 days will primarily be spent building relationships, learning about the people at CMCC, learning the operations, going into details on the existing strategic plans, getting to know the sense of values of the employees and the students, getting to know the key people throughout the Canadian profession, learning, interacting with and developing relationships with provincial leaders, the association leaders, people in the federation.

Is there a specific agenda that you would like to focus on as the new president?
As the new president the first thing I have to do is really spend time with the governing board and get as much better handle on the strategic planning that had gone on at CMCC and what they envision for the near future. It’s too early in my role for me to say, ‘Here’s what I really want to do.’ I think it’s because it would be unwise as the new leader of an established institution that has been running well and has had an experience – Dr. Moss has done a wonderful job – it would be unwise for a new president to come in and make sweeping changes.

Right now I am in a wait-and-see type of mode. I have to spend some time with the governing board. The best I can say right now is that the portions of the strategic plan that has been shared with me up to this point, I’m in agreement with, and that is to continue to look for collaboration opportunities for us to develop additional articulation agreements with other institutions, for collaborative learning experiences. So I will continue to push toward those things and those are the types of things I have been comfortable doing in my past roles.

As an educator, administrator and doctor of chiropractic, what are your thoughts on the state of the profession as an integrated part of the overall health-care system?
For the chiropractic profession to continue into the future as a major part of the health-care team in Canada, we have to continue to push for establishing our expertise in the public perspective. We have to continue to push for developing interprofessional relationships that bear fruit. There has been a tremendous amount of work that has been done across Canada to work on that regard. As an example, the work that has been done to develop the research chairs and professorships throughout Canada – I think that has been a wonderful strategic step on the part of the Canadian chiropractic profession that will help promote the credibility of our profession, and to expand the opportunities for additional collaborations down the road.

What are your thoughts on the roll of educational institutions in influencing this way forward for the chiropractic profession?

DW: Your educational institutions cannot do it in isolation from the rest of the chiropractic community. So the educational institution can work to help bring people together, to foster discussions and the dialogues that are necessary. I don’t believe that any one entity by itself – be it an association, be it a chiropractic college – can establish the path for the profession. It has to be done as a pure collaborative model.

CMCC will certainly be very well positioned to bring people together. We can hold meetings to foster the dialogues that are necessary to do the strategic planning that will affect the entire profession. It’s not one where the CMCC itself is going to determine what the profession is going to do.

Another major role that CMCC has to play is to continue to develop new knowledge, in other words, it has a responsibility to continue expanding its resources on research, on promoting scholarships and in training the best chiropractic practitioners as possible.

We have a research responsibility, we have a teaching scholarship responsibility and we have a responsibility to create opportunities for dialogue for the profession as a whole.

What do you hope to see for the chiropractic profession in the future?
I certainly hope to see a continued penetration of the health-care market. I would like to see a greater percentage or greater proportion of the population being able to take advantage of chiropractic care. I would like us to be able to continue to promote our expertise in managing pain conditions and managing chronic neuromusculoskeletal conditions. Those are things where there is tremendous demand for. We know, for example, that low back pain or low back disorders are the number one cause of disability throughout the world. As a profession, chiropractic has a tremendous advantage over the other professions in being able to manage these patients. So we have to continue to develop a reputation among the public and among other health-care providers that we truly have that expertise and are the providers of first choice.

What do you see are the biggest challenges for students coming out of school and venturing out into the real world?
The biggest challenges fall into the category of return on investments. A student who has put four years of graduate level training under their belt and has expended that much money in terms of tuition, and room and board and such during that period of time. That’s a large debt that they have incurred to become a chiropractor. And we have to ensure that they are able to earn a decent living to pay back those debts that they have incurred.

Associated with that is we have to make sure that we continue to push forward professionally and politically – that we don’t see further constraints for chiropractors in the health-care reimbursement system. Even as coming up from America, I am well acquainted with the problem that occurred with the delisting (of chiropractic service) in Ontario and that is something we just have to continue to work to try and prevent similar types of things from happening and of course to try and reverse these things going down the road.

What do you anticipate would be your biggest learning curve, as you transition from the U.S. to Canada?
The biggest learning curve for me would be the Canadian political system, particularly as it relates to chiropractic politics. I’m not familiar with the main players in the chiropractic profession in Canada as I am in the States. I will be developing relationships with these people so I have to understand the operational methods up in Canada. That’s probably going to be my biggest learning curve.

And of course, the health-care model is different in Canada as I am used to in the United States. On the other hand, the health-care model in the United States is different today than it was five years ago and ten years ago. That’s always a changing environment. So you can never relax too long. You have to keep on top of those things.

What inspires you the most about your job?
I love effective organizations and I love being a leader of an effective organization. Building teams, empowering people, inspiring people to share visions – those are the things that get me excited.

Mari-Len De Guzman is the editor of Canadian Chiropractor and Massage Therapy Canada magazine. She can be contacted at

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