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Building Bridges Through Benevolence


We are what society says we are.


In recent weeks I was given the same bit of unsolicited counsel from several different sources.   Each independently volunteered their observations that chiropractors have a public image of being disingenuous and commercial and gave me their opinions on how to solve this problem. Of course my initial response was to defend my profession; then after some contemplation I realized that if the public opinion is that we are self-serving, then their opinion is more powerful than my beliefs.  In the ensuing conversations I was provided with various suggestions for increasing the respect of our community and healthcare providers.  One of these folks, a physician, commented that he would be impressed by seeing chiropractors more involved in charitable healthcare work, [After having dealt with managed care organizations and various government reimbursement programs, most of us probably feel like we provide plenty of charitable care already.] 


Why is it that in the public’s eye chiropractic appears mercenary, while medicine has the reputation of being benevolent and above greed?   Because medicine has a history rich in self-sacrifice and service.   I should note that this history is not only rich, but also well publicized. Think of all of the heroic icons in medicine: Albert Schweitzer, Walter Reed, David Livingston, Christian Barnard, Ben Carlson, Marie Curie, and Alexander Fleming to name a few.  These men and women have made great strides for mankind in the spirit of service to others and all of medicine has received the reward.  These well-known heroes more than compensate for the many physicians who have been guilty of ill-will and greed.


I feel that my medical colleague may have identified a remedy when he recommended that chiropractors engage in more volunteerism.   I recall the grateful response of so many in the National Capitol region in response to several chiropractors who volunteered to stand vigil at the Pentagon and Twin Towers caring for the rescue workers and emergency personal during the days and nights following the attacks of September 11.   That was good will and publicity that money could not buy. 

Where can chiropractors serve?


Public Health


Become the champion for a public health concern in your community.   This will give you a chance to partner with others in the healthcare community to elevate the health of your community.  There is no shortage of “orphan” public health concerns in every community that need an energetic crusader to champion: adult and childhood obesity, dietary problems, smoking, sedentary lifestyles, teen pregnancy, backpack safety, injury prevention…


Community Clinics


Volunteer to serve in clinics for the poor and underserved.  This will provide a time of practicing for the joy of it and will also help you to develop working relationships with like-minded medical practitioners. This collegial relationship may grow to extend beyond volunteerism to a long-term professional relationship. 


Serve Overseas


You may choose to join a medical or chiropractic mission to help the needy overseas.  You may go with a national faith-based agency, local group of physicians, or a secular charity.  There are many short-term medical mission trips that serve for one or two week stints. 


The Reward


Giving back is a biblical principle that demonstrates thankfulness for ample provision. The reward for serving humanity with a grateful heart is more than good public relations or developing multidisciplinary relationships; it is good for your spirit.  Chiropractors may never gain the acclaim or iconic status that comes from discovering the cure for a disease, but chiropractors should never be accused of not loving their patients or longing to serve their fellow man regardless of recompense.