April 12, 2018—The North Carolina state senate and house of representatives will be jointly considering a proposal forwarded by the University of North Carolina to establish a School of Chiropractic Medicine on the campus of Winston-Salem State University. The UNC board of governors approved the concept, and the state budget allocated $100,000 in the 2017 Appropriations Act to fund a formal study into the resources required and potential success of such a program.
If approved, this would be the nation’s first publically funded college of chiropractic. The North Carolina legislature last considered such a proposal in 1991, but it did not emerge from committee.
This year’s proposal was developed from a report by the UNC’s Shep Center for Health Services Research, titled The Chiropractic Workforce in North Carolina and a Potential School of Chiropractic Medicine at Winston-Salem State University. This pilot document informs decision-makers about the scope and feasibility of establishing a chiropractic college at WSSU.
The UNC report notes that North Carolina currently does not host a school of chiropractic and yet the number of licensed practitioners in the state grew from 1,053 in 2000 to 1,679 in 2016. This indicates a rising demand both for education in the profession and desire for chiropractic services in the state.
The authors of the report also note that whereas traditionally chiropractic has been aligned with other complementary and alternative healthcare modalities, the profession has been making significant efforts to favor evidence-based practices and concomitantly is becoming “more accepted by mainstream medicine.” WSSU has a well-established school of health sciences and is also a historically black university, ranked eighth nationally for graduating black students in the health professions.
In addition, the N.C. Board of Chiropractic Examiners states that approximately 250 to 275 candidates apply to take the licensing exam each year. Demographic data shows that these applicants tend to be male (72 percent) and white (90 percent). Therefore locating the chiropractic school at WSSU would be partially aimed at increasing diversity in the ranks of N.C.’s chiropractors, and partially aimed at diversifying WSSU’s student body.
Another factor in considering whether to establish a publically funded school of chiropractic at a state university is that it would be ideally suited to carry out “research on chiropractic services and build the evidence base for best practices in the profession.” Funding for the school is not expected to be a hurdle, as the university already has medical colleges with labs and staff, and would likely attract research grants.
Source: Winston-Salem Journal