Canada’s Impact on a Global Profession: An interview with Gerard Clum, DC

Maria DiDanieli
August 13, 2008
Written by Maria DiDanieli
globalDr. Gerard Clum, president of Life Chiropractic College West in the San Francisco Bay area, has also been president of the World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) for the past two years. As of June 7, 2008, Dr. Clum stepped down as WFC president, and Dr. Stathis Papadopolous of Cyprus was elected his successor. Canadian Chiropractor wishes Dr. Clum success in his future endeavours, and thanks him for joining us, in this issue, to discuss the profession’s development globally, and Canada’s role in this development. 

Canadian Chiropractor: As immediate past president of the WFC, how would you describe the profession of chiropractic from a global perspective? 
The World Federation of Chiropractic is completing its 20th year of activity in 2008. From the perspective of a 20-year window, the change in the growth, development and recognition of the profession, and the contribution of chiropractic care to the health and well-being of the people of the world, is nothing less than stunning! By every measure – from the organizational infrastructure of the profession, the educational institutions of the profession, the research efforts of the discipline and the distribution and prevalence of practising chiropractors – the growth of the profession has been explosive.

The expanding interface between the WFC and the World Health Organization (WHO) is a prime example of the recognition and impact of the profession at large. Following the WFC being admitted to official relations with the WHO – as a non-governmental organization (NGO) representing the chiropractic profession – a series of engagements ranging from the publication of the WHO Guidelines on the Basic Safety and Training in Chiropractic, and the upcoming Symposium on Manual Methods of Healthcare being co-ordinated by the WFC on behalf of the WHO in Beijing in late 2008, has followed. Earlier this year, the first ever chiropractic postdoctorate intern was named by the WHO Office of Traditional Medicine in Geneva, Switzerland.

Licensure, as it is known in the North American context, or registration as it is known around the world, has come to more countries in more regions than ever before within the past 20 years. Costa Rica (Central America), Thailand (Asia) and Italy (Europe) are among the recent entries to the regulated community of chiropractic. Similarly regional bodies representing the chiropractic profession such as the Latin American Federation of Chiropractic and the Asian Pacific Federation of Chiropractic are helping national associations to organize and increase their effectiveness in their particular regions.

Most chiropractors are surprised to learn that there are now chiropractic educational programs offering DC (or equivalent) curricula in Australia (three), New Zealand, Japan, Korea, Brazil (two), Mexico, South Africa (two), Denmark, France and Spain with the majority of these being offered in tertiary universities with governmental funding.

CC: Can you comment on Canadians’ role in the development of the profession of chiropractic, and how our chiropractors are impacting the global stage today?
 Canada has played a key and pivotal role in the development of the profession, particularly from the view of the past 30 years – with an especially strong role in the past decade. The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) has contributed greatly to the human resources needs of a developing profession, with graduates of CMCC achieving leadership roles from Australia, to the United Kingdom, to Europe to Africa.

The development of a robust research community, with interests related to the chiropractic profession, within the university system of Canada over the past decade has become the worldwide model for research and academic integration. The contribution of Canadian chiropractic researchers is head-and-shoulders above the contributions made by any other country or region in the world.  

Finally, the management, by the profession in Canada, of the challenges presented by the Lewis Inquest in Ontario is another example of how, and where, the profession in Canada has contributed to the global circumstances of the profession. This situation could have been approached in a far different manner with a far more untoward outcome. The restraint, on the part of the individual chiropractor in avoiding media contact unless fully prepared, and putting the resources forward to acquire the expert representation to address the concerns voiced in this process, were laudable. The post-event followup, in the academic, research and political environments, is another example of the maturity of the profession in Canada that has accrued to the profession worldwide. 
CC:  Do you have any closing comments for Canadian chiropractors as you move beyond your role of president of the WFC? 
The profession in Canada should be congratulated for its continued support of the WFC through its membership in the Federation as well as through the appointment of spectacular representatives to the Council (board) of the WFC. Historically, Canada has been well represented at the WFC, with Paul Carey, DC, having served in every elected position existing within the WFC. At this time the Council enjoys the talent and hard work of Deborah Kopansky-Giles, DC, and Greg Stewart, DC, representing Canada. Additionally, Dr. Stewart was recently elected to the Executive Committee of the WFC as the Federation’s secretary-treasurer.

 The stage is being set for the most successful and most productive Congress in the history of the WFC to be held in Montreal in April 2009. This Congress will be a world-class opportunity, in a world-class setting, for Canada to get to better know and understand the World Federation of Chiropractic, and for the world to understand the role that Canada is playing in shaping the future of the profession on a global basis.

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