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The New Ordre: Communicating the Quebec vision for chiropractic


June 18, 2008
By Maria DiDanieli

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As the president of the Ordre des
Chiropracticiens du Quebec, Dr. Andre-Marie Gonthier is suitably
positioned to comment upon the situation in which the chiropractic
profession finds itself in that province, as well as how other Quebec
health professions perceive DCs. In fact, he, and his board, had a lot
to do with both over the past year.

As the president of the Ordre des Chiropracticiens du Quebec, Dr. Andre-Marie Gonthier is suitably positioned to comment upon the situation in which the chiropractic profession finds itself in that province, as well as how other Quebec health professions perceive DCs. In fact, he, and his board, had a lot to do with both over the past year.

Dr. Gonthier is celebrating one year in office as president of the Ordre. In an interview with Canadian Chiropractor, he, very kindly, discussed the activities he has initiated and participated in, over the past 12 months, but the discussion reached far beyond Quebec and could not be limited to the chiropractic profession.

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gonthier
Dr. Andre-Marie Gonthier, president of the Ordre des chiropracticiens du Quebec.


You see, the vision of Gonthier and the Ordre does not restrict itself to chiropractic, or Quebec. Rather it extends to increasing the role of chiropractic within the health-care system in the province, by changing how it is perceived by other health professions and the public, and how this inclusion – not integration – can be carried out by chiropractors in other provinces as well. But this vision, as Quebec chiropractors now recognize it, was not in place when Dr. Gonthier took office.

“I knew what challenges to expect,” says Gonthier, in his pensive manner, “and I took our motto, ‘a new dynamic’ very seriously. My decision to run for office was rational – and my wife Suzanne was behind me all the way – but then, when I made that decision, I plunged into it. One year later, the results are very strong.”


FIRST STEPS – COMMUNICATION WITHIN THE ORDRE

“The new board was divided on many issues,” continues Gonthier, “and by working one-on-one with each of the board members, asking for opinions, priorities and ideas that we should work on, we were able to establish a direction. So, the first thing we did was to define the mission, values and vision of the Ordre – this was not there, previously.”

In September 2007, the chiropractors of Quebec held their annual convention, where the Ordre presented the fruits of their intensive, initial labours.

“The reaction we saw was very positive,” recalls Gonthier, “people were excited by what they heard and wanted to become active in their profession.”


STEP, THE SECOND – QUEBEC DCs IN SUMMIT

The Ordre followed up its success at the September convention by calling a retreat in the month of October. The purpose of the retreat was to bring together chiropractors, of all practice types and philosophies, from all areas of Quebec. Dr. Gonthier was able to round up 75 members of the profession for this meeting.

“We, the board, had created nine questions, representing issues in the profession, for the delegates to answer. We randomly divided the 75 into five groups and put each group in its own room. We asked the groups to address the nine questions, one question at a time, with the goal of reaching a consensus, through respectful discussion, on each. When the groups were done, we held roundtable discussions to determine the points of convergence on each issue. From this, we were able to develop a summary which represents Quebec’s stand on these issues.”

Dr. Gonthier notes that the summary is considered public information, and he is happy to provide it for anyone who might be interested in reading it.


THE NATIONAL CHALLENGE

In the following month, Dr. Gonthier and the Ordre presented the results of the Quebec October retreat to chiropractic association presidents and the Canadian Federation of Chiropractic Regulatory Boards, in Regina. The presentation was well received and a translated copy of the summary was requested for all to read.

By April 2008, the document was translated into English – at the expense of the Ordre – and handed out to association presidents across Canada. But this gesture was not unconditional – it was accompanied by a challenge.

“We challenged all the presidents to repeat our exercise in their own provinces and to be ready to share their results at the national meeting to be held in November 2008, in Toronto. We feel that this will give us all a clearer picture of the profession across Canada.”


CHIROPRACTIC IN HEALTH CARE – THE QUEBEC APPROACH

Within the vision established by Gonthier and the Ordre lies the quest to more firmly implant chiropractic into the health-care community, by building bridges with the other health professions. Gonthier is quick to point out that this must be done by establishing relationships based on mutual respect for each profession’s identity, purpose and background, to avoid the possibility of compromising the salient features of any group or losing practices to anothers group’s domain.
“We have to be very cautious because the game moves very fast,” says Gonthier.

In order to establish dialogue with other professions, Gonthier believes that he must begin with those persons who are best positioned to communicate with each profession’s members – the presidents.

“We are working very hard, in Quebec, to work on a one-on-one basis with each of the 45 presidents of the different professions,” notes Gonthier, “I am meeting with each one of them, in their own offices, homes, restaurants or wherever they choose, to explain who I am and what our Ordre does. I bring documentation with me, so that they can read further, if they would like. When they leave, I want them to be able to say, ‘OK, that’s chiropractic.’”

Dr. Gonthier himself still practises for 14 hours a week. Within this practice, he networks with a number of practitioners including pedorthists, homeopaths and a variety of others.

He states, “I could put my foot on the turf of these other professionals – I have the training – but I respect their knowledge in their fields.”

“I do things that nobody else can do, and they respect that,” adds Gonthier with conviction.  “By communicating to share information, we can work to change the perception that the professional world, in Quebec, has about us.”

Gonthier’s efforts, in this domain, have already borne fruits. In Quebec, professional bodies from other health disciplines have assisted the Ordre in its work with the provincial government – by providing guidance and their own documentation– in the hope that DCs will be successful in achieving their goals within the system.


REACHING THE PUBLIC

After outlining two aspects of the vision held by the Ordre – communication within the profession and educating other health-care professionals regarding chiropractic – Dr. Gonthier moves to the third aspect of this vision, which deals with reaching the public by teaching chiropractic to as many people as possible in a clear fashion.

To help achieve this, Gonthier has encouraged the Ordre to develop a website that addresses the needs of the chiropractors as well as the needs of the public – but that addresses these needs separately.

“We can, and should, discuss our issues on a website that is meant for chiropractors – but this will cause confusion if it’s in the public eye.  The public should have access to their own site, where our vision and purpose for patients is clearly outlined.”
To this end, the Ordre des Chiropracticiens du Quebec will launch its new website on June 10, 2008.

Dr. Gonthier states, “I am particularly proud of the progress which the Ordre des chiropracticiens has made in just one year. We have an excellent dynamic and look forward to working together, with the profession, to establish understanding and praise for chiropractic throughout the province of Quebec.”