The ACA’s first female president speaks about chiropractic goals and the future of the field
LAST FEBRUARY the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) elected me as their first female president. Many will see this as an important milestone in ACA’s history. This choice is most important to me, not because it is a “first” but because it is part of a larger movement for greater diversity in the chiropractic field.
A management team led exclusively by women
In addition to my leadership as President, the ACA will benefit from the expertise and experience of Dr. Kathy Boulet, recently elected Vice President, and Karen Silberman, who continues to serve as Executive Vice President, benefit.
We pride ourselves on being part of an all women-led leadership team and hope to be an example to other female practitioners and students, especially those seeking leadership roles in the industry. Together with our board of directors, we hope to lead the ACA and lead the entire field of chiropractic into a more diverse, fairer and more inclusive future.
This is not an easy task and it will take more than my year as President to achieve that goal. After my tenure as President, the work I lead today will of necessity continue in order for the organization to continue to grow. However, I would like to acknowledge what a unique time this is for the chiropractic profession. A fortunate coincidence of election schedules, changing demographics, and the hard work of female chiropractors has resulted in more women-run chiropractic organizations than ever before in the history of our field.
Women currently lead the ChiroCongress, the International Chiropractic Association, the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards, and the American Black Chiropractic Association. We believe this offers some interesting opportunities for improved coordination between organizations, and as a group we are currently discussing how improved communication and coordination could change the perception of chiropractic in the broader healthcare system.
Strategic goals to create a wider awareness of the benefits of chiropractic care
My work as President coordinating with other organizations is in line with ACA’s 2020-24 Strategic Plan and its mission to inspire and empower our members to improve the health and well-being of their communities.
As an organization, we take a collaborative, inclusive approach, both between our members and in partnership with other organizations, so that we can advance our entire profession. To this end, the Court of Auditors’ strategic plan contains the following objectives:
- Preferred work parity: Currently, Medicare coverage for chiropractic does not cover the full range of services that doctors offer and are trained to provide. In April 2021, New York MP Brian Higgins introduced the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act (HR 2654), which would allow patients to access treatment for all Medicare-covered benefits permitted under the practitioner’s state license to get their chiropractor. Currently, the passage of HR 2654 is our top legislative priority at ACA.
- Implement initiatives to strengthen partnership with the broader health system: To better position chiropractors to deliver the patient-centered, evidence-based care our patients need, we are taking various initiatives and lobbying. Part of it serves as an educational resource and advocate through a new website, Hands Down Better, which features information on a range of health topics and connects the public with ACA Medical Members. Another important aspect of our work involves developing partnerships with key industry stakeholders to create business and clinical learning opportunities on best practices, ethics, professionalism and relevant topics such as: B. How patient-centered chiropractic care can help fight the opioid abuse epidemic.
We believe the passage of HR 2654 will have a significant impact on the opioid abuse crisis that is ravaging the country, in large part due to a drug-addicted approach to pain management. By employing other pain management techniques, such as manual manipulation of the spine and extremities, and using chiropractors at the forefront of their license, chiropractic care can help distract patients from opioid treatment plans and support those who withdraw from opioid therapy. Recover dependence.
In recent years, chiropractic has gained recognition as an effective means of combating the opioid abuse epidemic. The upgrading of Medicare chiropractic coverage will expand treatment options for patients who would otherwise have to pay out of pocket for services not previously covered. It will also reduce the fragmentation of care, lower costs, and improve access for some of our most vulnerable patients.
Promoting growth through mentoring and DEI
Mentoring and inclusion have long been part of my work at the ACA and in the field of chiropractic. Prior to my election as ACA President, I had the privilege of helping build NextGen (formerly known as the Millennial Think Tank), a support, professional development and mentoring program for young professionals with less than five years of experience.
Since the program was founded in 2016, I have been a mentor for junior staff, many of them young women looking for advice and support in building their careers in a predominantly white male sector. After my election, I stepped aside in this role to enable a new generation of practitioners to take on the role of mentor and help others, especially those who are underrepresented in chiropractic.
Time and again we have seen the positive effect that the increased diversity within chiropractic has on patients and students from different backgrounds. For patients, having a provider of the same sex, race, or ethnicity can help make them more comfortable and increase the likelihood of receiving patient-centered, culturally literate care.
With increasing reports of women feeling unheard, disregarded or disregarded by male providers, it is even more important to increase gender diversity in this area and to ensure that women receive the care they need. Northwestern Health Sciences University reports that over the past two years, 51% of its chiropractic students have been female. While this represents a significant advance in the field, more remains to be done.
In 2018, the ACA Diversity Commission created a roadmap for the ACA to increase diversity in chiropractic and improve care for underserved and intersectional populations. To advance these efforts, my team and I urge family doctors, hospitals, and community clinics alike to develop community-based Complementary and Inclusive Health (CIH) programs, better serving different communities, increasing cultural literacy, promoting professional professionals, and improving accessibility Chiropractic. During my tenure as President of ACA, promoting diversity and inclusion within the organization and the profession was very important.
I hope I can inspire other women and practitioners from other underrepresented groups to introduce themselves as leaders by illustrating the inclusion and forward thinking of our industry. Choosing women and people of color for leadership positions is an important step, but it is only part of increasing diversity and inclusion in this sector and making positive change in our healthcare system. I look forward to working with the ACA and other chiropractic organizations to facilitate this change.
The future of chiropractic
After a notoriously unpredictable year, predicting the future feels a little like folly in any area. Instead, I want to encourage my fellow practitioners to focus on what is possible and the work we can do today to achieve these long-term goals.
Together with the ACA management team, I will move the organization towards achieving its strategic goals over the next year. In addition, the ACA and the industry at large must continue to focus on policies and initiatives that expand access to and use of chiropractic care services: adoption of HR 2654, increased DEI efforts, creating more community-focused CIH programs, and working together for the common good . This will go a long way towards ensuring that one day everyone will have access to the patient-centered care they need.
MICHELE MAIERS, DC, MPH, PhD, has focused her career on bridging research and public health policy to empower clinicians, patients and policy makers to make better decisions about conservative and inclusive health care. She does so as the ACA President and Executive Director, Research and Innovation at Northwestern Health Sciences University. More information is available at acatoday.org/SP-MicheleMaiers.