I’ve noticed that the chiropractic leadership in California is contemplating plans that could up the number of continuing education hours from 12 hours per year to 24. I’m sure there’s a good reason for this. But I can’t think of one.
Ostensibly, continuing education was instituted in an attempt to bring field doctors the latest breakthroughs and innovations that have occurred since their formal education. If you’re a medical doctor who has successfully shunned the office visits of drug reps, then sure, getting to the convention center might be valuable. Or maybe you’re a surgeon who could benefit from learning the newest techniques at limb prosthesis derived from success with veterans returning from Iraq. In medicine, these annual updates probably make sense.
What’s so new in chiropractic that it requires an additional 12 hours of post-graduate education every year? Newly discovered vertebrae? More accurate orthopedic tests? Advances in intra examiner reliability of motion palpation skills?
What’s so ironic about expanding the CE requirements for chiropractors is that the new, cutting-edge stuff in chiropractic is usually too controversial for the sensibilities of those who set the requirements for continuing education programs. Instead, organizers must rotate through a limited number of speakers who can address risk management, CPR, HIV instruction, radiology, extremity adjusting, sports taping and the rehash of other topics that appear to qualify as continuing education.
Most of these programs are legendary in their irrelevance and lack of day-to-day applicability to the real-world needs facing today’s practicing chiropractor. Programs with even the slightest whiff of content that might help chiropractors run a more successful practice are shunned. Seemingly, the drier, more esoteric, left-brained, the better.
This prompts many chiropractors to fight over the back row seats and come armed with sufficient paperwork, newspapers and portable TVs to engage their minds as their bodies are exposed to the prerequisite number of lecture hours mandated by the licensure board.
So excruciating are these programs, many chiropractors find ways to avoid, or at least reduce, their attendance. Some pay their enrollment fee, stay for the first 20 minutes until the sign in sheet is passed, tickets stamped or badges punched and leave, returning at the end of the morning session in time to sign out. In fact, I’ve been to several programs in which there were more people in the exhibit hall (where, for better or worse there is a little innovation), than in the lecture room.
I’m sure there are some among the low self-esteem crowd and the “we-want-to-be-accepted” delegation that believe that more education will somehow produce better chiropractors or will garner greater respect from the medical fraternity. I doubt it. Chiropractors that are more “educated” will not remove the perception among many MDs that chiropractors think they can cure everything and that chiropractic, while enjoying high patient satisfaction, is nothing more than a placebo, barely appropriate for the least serious low back pain cases. If the intent of increased continuing education is to improve the standing of chiropractic, educating medical doctors might be a better place to start!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-education. And I do think that flushing out every chiropractor once or twice a year, especially those inclined to hide under rocks, is probably a good thing. But adding still more hours, even if they can be obtained online, is likely to produce little change in the skill set, tableside manners or public perception of chiropractors.
Usually when confronted by the unexplainable, I contemplate the age-old truism: “Follow the money.” Yet, in most states, between the marketing costs, speaker’s fees and mushrooming hotel expenses, most associations hope for little more than breaking even by holding their obligatory continuing education seminars.
So, what is it? Do you know the motive for more continuing education? If you do, would you please share it with me by leaving a comment below?