The image of a white male doctor happily chatting with a typically middle class white patient is pervasive in stock photos, movies, television shows and advertisements. “Talk to your doctor today!”, spoken or printed over a beaming white male doctor in a white lab coat with his arms crossed, is as representative of the reality of Canada’s health care system, both workers and patients as the republican party is of the people of United States of America, representing perhaps a subset of the population, a subset that is shrinking. Today’s health care in Canada and specifically in Chiropractic has something slightly different than the traditional white male doctor: female doctors, of all walks of life and culture (1). The Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College class of 2020 has roughly a 55:45 female to male split and it is not the first to accomplish this.
Once an overtly male dominated profession, Chiropractic along with other health professions such as medical doctors and dentists has seen increased numbers of female nearly every year in Canada (1). Progress is truly happening, yet there is so much more to be done. While the representation of women in chiropractic has in some cases surpassed equal numbers, the profession remains remarkably monochromatic. It is true that there are Doctors of Chiropractic practicing in Canada and training at CMCC with diverse backgrounds, yet populations such as Indigenous peoples of Canada are vastly underrepresented. Chiropractic, in its current form, is a very beneficial form of primary health care available to only the very special few: those who can afford it. However, thanks to pilot projects such as the Mount Carmel Clinic in Winnipeg, MB and the Annishnawbe Clinic in downtown Toronto, which offer free or reduced chiropractic services to marginalized populations, the patient base and availability of chiropractic is changing and hopefully in the next few years, genuinely available to all Canadian citizens. Cost, however, is not only hurdle to overcome, as the unique health care requirements of populations such as LGBTQ move continually into the conscious of Canadians and Canadian health care providers (1). By not remaining stagnant, paternalistic, Chiropractors can offer respectful and dignified care for all members of the community, using their knowledge and training in conjunction with the unique requirements of these distinct populations.
The professions of health care be it chiropractic, medicine or physiotherapy are leaders, not only in their respective fields but in society. A profession that promotes diversity within itself can promote diversity within the community and abroad. Chiropractic has been a leader in closing the gap between male and female representation, and I believe will continue to become more culturally diverse every year, mirroring the Canadian population as it continues to evolve. Availability, affordability and understanding of the chiropractic profession and scope will not only better the lives of Canada’s citizens but open the door for populations who may have never heard of chiropractic to enter the profession and bring in a vitalizing dose of culture into this ever adapting and changing profession.
- Johnson C. Green B. Diversity in the Chiropractic Profession: Preparing for 2050. Journal of Chiropractic Education. 2012;26(1):1-13.