Members of the chiropractic profession hold a unique post within society that grants them many privileges and responsibilities (1). The scope of chiropractic practice often lends itself to patients that are in vulnerable positions when they seek treatment from a chiropractor (1). Therefore these patients must place a considerable amount of trust in the practitioner in their time of need (1). Chiropractic has seen significant growth and increase in recognition over the years (1). Due to this growth and trust chiropractic has been afforded many professional privileges including but not limited to autonomy, self-regulation and policing (1). As professionals, members of the chiropractic community must hold themselves to high standards of ethical and professional behaviour to ensure quality patient care and the furtherance of the chiropractic profession (1).
The status of professional is given to chiropractors because they put the needs of the patient above their own needs (1). A chiropractor, as with any health care professional, is trusted to have the specialized skill and knowledge base required to assess and treat the patient effectively for various conditions within their scope of practice (1). Chiropractors have faced much adversity but the merit of their treatments has come to light and chiropractic has gained much respect and the public’s trust (1). Due to this respect and patient first priority, many privileges have been entrusted to chiropractors by society (1).
Chiropractors have been given the privilege of professional autonomy meaning that they have the power to make decisions relying on their knowledge base that are in the best interest of their patients (1). This includes decisions regarding who enters or leaves the profession, ethical guidelines, and the enforcement of these guidelines (1). These aforementioned privileges are not the right of chiropractors (1). They are bestowed upon chiropractic practitioners by governmental bodies because they are believed to be acting in the public’s interest (1). These privileges give chiropractors great influence and the responsibility to further the profession through research, education, ethical understanding, professional behaviour and adherence to increasingly higher standards (1). These responsibilities can be fulfilled via professional, ethical and moral behaviour (1).
Behaviour within accordance to guidelines set out by the profession regarding matters such as teaching, research, community service, demeanor and many others is considered professionalism (1). Professional behaviour is important to secure trust on a patent and societal basis (1). Ethics are a set of codes and guidelines regarding conduct written by the professional body for the purpose of self-governance (1). These rules provide a detailed guide to chiropractors on how to conduct their practice in a professional and ethical manner (1). Morals are standards used to judge specific actions and behaviours based on ethical codes (1). These moral judgments based on the ethical codes are used to determine whether behaviour was professional or not and sometimes ultimately to decide if a chiropractor should remain a member of the profession (1). Together, professionalism, ethics and morals are used systematically to govern professionals to ensure that they do not take advantage of the power bestowed upon them by public trust and professional privilege (1).
I believe that the chiropractic profession offers society an invaluable skill based service backed by a vast, ever growing body of knowledge (1). This is why the public has entrusted chiropractic as a profession and allowed it the privileges it now holds so dearly (1). Enforcing professional, ethical and moral tenets will solidify the public trust and continue to raise standards within chiropractic (1). My identity as a student of chiropractic is defined by the desire to acquire as much knowledge as possible to one day allow me to practice in a professional, evidence based manner, to fulfil all the duties necessary to care for my patients and do my part to advance the profession as a whole.
1. Janse J. Principles and practice of chiropractic [monograph on the Internet]. [place unknown]: National College of Chiropractic; n.d. [cited September 10, 2016]. Available from: CMCC Library Catalogue (OPAC).
2. Cruess S. Professionalism and Medicine’s Social Contract with Society. Clinical Orthopaedics & Related Research [serial on the Internet]. (2006, Aug), [cited September 10, 2016]; 449(1): 170-176. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text.
3. Howland T, Barr D, Balla J, Knopp R, Stern D, Papadakis M. Medical education — professionalism…Stern DT, Papadakis M. The developing physician — becoming a professional. N Engl J Med 2006;355:1794-9. New England Journal Of Medicine [serial on the Internet]. (2007, Feb 8), [cited September 10, 2016]; 356(6): 639-641. Available from: CINAHL Plus with Full Text.