I sat in Dr. Jim Sievers’ class nearly twenty years ago and wrote down my answer to the assignment that he had given us. He had asked us to write our professional vision. I wrote that I was committed to elevating the chiropractic profession to its rightful position of prominence.
I didn’t start off on this path when I first entered into higher education, in spite of the fact that I am the son of a chiropractor, and I come from a family that does everything with a chiropractic first mentality. I had a lot of growing up to do and to my father’s credit, he let me find my own path to becoming a chiropractor. I guess it was inevitable – I have had the opportunity to be amongst some great chiropractors that sacrificed much for this profession. I have vivid memories of sitting with Drs. Nell and Sid. I can remember playing baseball with Dr. Don Clum on his parent’s lawn one Thanksgiving or Easter. That’s just what we did, we hung out with chiropractors, we took family vacations to chiropractic seminars, like DE and Parker. I didn’t really know that there was a different way of living for most of my childhood. That’s why it always created some cognitive dissonance for me when kids in the playground would try to tell me my dad wasn’t a real doctor, or something worse.
I was searching for what I was supposed to do with my life, and I happened to stop into the college. I have always been connected to the institution from my father’s role as the Chairman of the Board for thirty years. And as Dr. Clum often did for many of us, he welcomed me into his office and set about saying the things I needed to hear so I could make the decision I needed to make. So I matriculated into the college and in spite of a lifetime around the chiropractic profession, I had so much to learn about chiropractic, let alone chemistry, physics, anatomy and the like.
I owe a lot to the faculty and the administration, many of whom are still tirelessly serving at the college. The character of individuals that this institution embodies is truly remarkable. I distinctly remember an “aha” moment in Professor Jim Hawkins’ physiology class when we were discussing kidney function and I thought to myself how the human body was the most remarkable supercomputer the world had ever seen. I became ravenous for knowledge after that, and still feel today like I constantly want to learn more about so many subjects. I feel blessed to love learning. I am grateful to have been given the award for clinical excellence when I graduated. I love the study of techniques and technique history. Chiropractic history is so unique. I invite each and every one of you to study our history – we owe those pioneers a great debt for establishing and developing something so unique.
As my early years of practice unfolded, I got the opportunity to come back to the college as an anatomy instructor. During my time in school I had helped with the Japanese exchange program teaching anatomy, so now being an anatomy instructor was a great fit. I’ve also taught technique and analysis. I wanted to also take the opportunity to move into the business curriculum so I could help address the challenges that face so many graduates new into practice. Teaching business has been rewarding but difficult – there is little business context and relevance when you’re worried about board exams and midterms. Even so, exposing students to basic business concepts is critical. As is the need for robust intern and preceptor experiences. I applaud Life West’s efforts to make that a reality for their graduates. That’s one of the primary reasons I have been a President’s Circle member for as many years as I have.
I got invited into the chiropractic political realm a few years into practice when the state association was lobbying for inclusion in AB 2706. These experiences really lit a fire under me to get busy elevating the chiropractic profession like I had promised myself many years before. Eventually I was appointed as the chairman of the California state association governmental affairs committee and currently I sit on the board of the association as the category expert in governmental affairs. Lobbying and advocating for chiropractic takes a lot of time, effort and money, and my hope is that more of my colleagues will get the big idea about supporting the profession and the college for the sake of the things that are important to them.
Working in the classroom has afforded me the opportunity to see the students’ genuine desire to serve people of all walks of life. I love the mission trips that the college puts together, and we have a need to go on a mission to serve more of the population right here and now. If we are only serving at best 10-15% of the population, we have a lot of work to do in terms of “serving for the sake of serving.” I am truly blessed to have the opportunity to work in this capacity, to be part of this college, and to do whatever small part I can to elevate this profession. I can’t help myself, it’s what I’m called to do.