South America: A continental chiropractic adventure
By Ed Chicoine BPHE DC FCCSS(C)Features Leadership Profession
Could you imagine selling your
practice as well as most of your belongings? Could you imagine packing
up your family into your van, to leave on an adventure with only a
vague destination in mind? Beginning in January 1997, my wife, our six
children – aged three to 12 – and I, drove from our home in Quebec, to
the bottom of South America and, eventually, back home. In total, our
adventure spanned a period of three years.
|Dr. Chicoine, in front of the van with the six Chicoine children, at Corire, Peru, the world’s largest field of petroglyphs.|
Could you imagine selling your practice as well as most of your belongings? Could you imagine packing up your family into your van, to leave on an adventure with only a vague destination in mind? Beginning in January 1997, my wife, our six children – aged three to 12 – and I, drove from our home in Quebec, to the bottom of South America and, eventually, back home. In total, our adventure spanned a period of three years.
Our voyage by overland travel through 15 different countries turned out to be enlightening – not only for us, but for many whom we met, as well. While our family experienced various cultures, I was able to bring chiropractic into many communities, and I did so anywhere the opportunity arose. For my home-schooled family, the journey became life learning at its best.
What gave me and my family the ability to do what we did? For starters, a portable adjusting table and a model spine.
HOW MANY ROADS?
Chile, with only one chiropractor in the entire country, was our primary destination; but I also aimed to provide chiropractic care to as many people as possible, along the way.
Wherever we stopped, all I had to do was mention that I was a chiropractic doctor from Canada, explain what I did, using the spine, and offer adjustments. Once a few people experienced the treatment, it wasn’t long before many others would turn up wanting an adjustment as well.
For example, in Tacna, Peru, I adjusted a woman who was so impressed with the improvement she saw in her body, that she arranged a temporary clinic for me in the local medical office, preceded by a radio interview that generated immediate interest in chiropractic throughout the area. Her enthusiasm resulted in my being able to adjust 40 people on the first day.
CHIROPRACTIC AND THE CHILEAN EXPERIENCE
We arrived in Chile six months after our departure from Canada. By that time, I was able to communicate effectively in Spanish.
I was fortunate to be able to hire an enthusiastic assistant, who was highly motivated to educate the Chileans about our chiropractic services. Because of her, I was an invited guest on many radio and TV programs. Therefore, before our clinic opened in Santiago, we had 500 new patients scheduled and a two-month waiting list.
What surprised me was the openmindedness, and interest in learning about chiropractic, from medical doctors! On our first South American stop in Caracas, Venezuela, a medical doctor, whom I adjusted, had offered to help start a chiropractic clinic; the same thing had occurred in Colombia and Peru, and now occurred, once again, in Chile.
We stayed in Chile for 22 months and because of the volume of patients I was seeing, I hired two more chiropractors, one from Canada and one from the U.S., to help.
I was on a mission to promote chiropractic to as many people as possible. Whenever I had an interview on radio or television, I’d arrive early with my table and spine to adjust the person doing the interview. It always created excitement, and a more interesting show.
The enthusiasm for chiropractic was contagious. I was invited to appear on a weekly Chilean TV show to explain the basic concept of chiropractic – using the model spine – and demonstrate an adjustment. The demonstration lasted for four minutes but the subsequent reaction from the public was overwhelming! The television station made the error of not mentioning our office phone number and they received so many calls, that their ratings went up. I was invited back the following week, and the clip from the previous program was used as promotion for their show. For the second interview, they provided more air time for me – during which they had me adjust soap opera stars – and, this time, they displayed my office phone number.
Our phone rang constantly for weeks.
During the time that we were in Chile, a group of physiotherapists who were interested in becoming chiropractors were taking weekend chiropractic courses provided by a French chiropractor. I was asked by the group to help teach them chiropractic.
I refused the invitation, but did arrange for them to meet David Chapman-Smith, the secretary-general of the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC). Through the WFC, they were able to establish a course of study, and eventually, full accreditation from a U.S. chiropractic college. There are now more than 70 chiropractors in the country.
CHRONICLING THE ADVENTURE
After selling my Chilean practice to an American chiropractor – who was married to a Chilean woman – we proceeded on to Brazil where we stayed for six months, two months of which I worked in a Sira Borges clinic in Brasilia.
Along our journey, there was often a reaction of disbelief when local people, or even tourists, would see us arrive with six children and Quebec licence plates on the van. We were told on several occasions that we should write a book. We have many great stories to share about chiropractic, people, places and travel, from all over the South American continent. Overall, we were treated warmly by the Latin American people, and we feel blessed to have had the opportunity to meet them.
Luckily my wife kept a daily journal of our adventure – and we have, indeed, turned it into a book.
The portable adjusting table was one of the best investments I have ever made. It gave me the opportunity to make chiropractic available to thousands of people, and gave, to my family and me, the opportunity to learn about a part of the world, first hand.
What a great profession I had the honour to represent!
Dr. Ed Chicoine graduated from CMCC in 1983 and currently practises in Wakefield and Maniwaki, Quebec. He and his wife undertook a unique family adventure as part of a home-schooling experience for their six children and have now published a bestselling book. Visit www.livingdreamsbook.com and www.mresite.com or write to firstname.lastname@example.org .
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