It’s been a very busy few months since I was last able to post regularly. So I am trying to make up for my selfishness with my second post within a few days. One of the reasons I have been a bit rubbish is because of what Richard is going through. It just reminds you of what it is all about and it has meant that I was spending some of my blogging-time smoking cigars. It was also the fact that the clinic is getting busy and the occasional gap I used to have is no longer. Also there was the fact that I was bricking it. Despite my apparent bravado I was starting to doubt whether I should have opened my gob at all. Who knows, they might have been right about me resigning being a stupid thing to do, and I cannot in all honesty say that I would certainly have been blogging about it if it had turned out they had been right.
Not perse because of any of the obvious things (My staff did observe a few “strange” new patient bookings, I did receive a spurious complaint to Companies’ House from a local chiropractor and an obscene complaint to the GCC about me calling myself a chiropractor) nor the financial side fo things (I have been fortunate enough to be able to only take on referred new patients for some time years now and have just taken on my third clinician) but because of the “what if?” factor.
What if people (real people aka patients) really do care about you being able to call yourself a chiropractor? What if, entirely beyond my own understanding of what the public cares about, it somehow turns out they actually do care about the name? I mean; I have the doctorate and I have the degrees and no-one can take those away from me, but I cannot call myself a chiropractor. Although I can call myself chiropractically qualified (how ridiculous is that?) clinician.
What if one patient talking to a prospective patient tells them that I resigned from the GCC register and they mistakenly take that to mean/misunderstand that I was a bumped off/inferior/disgraced clinician?
What if my colleagues wouldn’t talk to me any more? Maybe because they didn’t recognise me as a colleague or maybe because they misunderstood the intentions behind my public resignation? Thought I was a w4nk3r or a threat to their sense of self? (on that note: none other than the self should ever be able to be a threat to one’s own sense of self,…people who struggle with this can be classified as “victim personalities”) Either way I like chiropractors and I still wanted them to like me too. They gave me a sense of belonging and I didn’t want to lose that.
These were all quite serious “what if“s (at least in my fickle mind). Particularly to someone who worked really quite hard to not only train to become a chiropractor, but also keeps aiming to be a good and successful clinician. Turns out, 8 months down the line, that the what if‘s were no real cause for concern. Patients don’t care about what you call yourself, as long as your street cred is good. In fact I have had such strong response to my change of name that lots of people “who had tried chiropractors before” started coming in. People who were “glad that you’re not one of them” (make no mistake; I swiftly corrected their potential error of judgement). But also current patients fed back to me that they were ecstatic, because now they could stop saying to their friends that I am “a chiropractor but nothing like those you know” to their friends and family. It’s a very interesting place to be when you have to open your mind to those realities that don’t conform with our experiences… My friends still talk to me and don’t think I am any more of a w4nk3r than they did before and the chiropractors in the area who were trying to stitch me up would have done so regardless because my clinic is doing so well and theirs isn’t. Not that they have ever sought contact or asked for help. They just made assumptions about my nature.
So I am no longer a registered chiropractor. For those who are not quite sure what that means: I took myself off the register because I feel that though the intention of registration and regulation is good, its execution so far has in my opinion under-performed and been misguided. Under-performed in so far that the protection to the public it offers is in my opinion poor and meaningless and misguided in that I was told that increasing standards to become meaningful would cost the organisation too many members… Stop and think about it. But that to the side; what does it mean today to be “a chiropractor in the UK”? It means you are registered with the GCC. What does it take to register with the GCC? You need to get your paperwork from a recognised institution commit a few hours of your working life to CPD and keep on the right side of the law. Not that hard.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight and the smugness of having gotten through it successfully: let’s analyse that:
a) getting your paperwork: I don’t want to make it sound like it’s nothing, and make no mistake; the AECC course was one of the most complete and compelling courses in the MSK arena, (despite what some of the so-called sceptics say) but it’s a course and as such it is the beginning of your learning and professional life, not its end. It also in itself does not make you a good clinician (both in the personable and technical sense of the word). What it does do is provide you with basics. Basics of clinical knowledge and safety. This is not to say that those basics are “rudimentary”. They are the basics. They “maketh the clinician not”. And if you’re blessed with the ability to store and process information to sufficient level, you can get degrees all day long.
b) committing a few hours of your working life: now this is trickier. I personally love what I do, and it is obvious that if you don’t you will struggle a little more to commit more time beyond that which you have to. I understand that. It’s natural. That said if you are stuck doing something you are not fully committed to, love & adore, are passionate about to your last breath, then you are at risk of committing the sin of mediocrity. Now, I am no moralist but that seems very much akin to wasting a life. I think Richard, with the current battle against cancer will be able to elaborate more fully on this, but if you are doing something you don’t really love, or worse still: you really don’t love, then please, please, please reconsider. No matter how heavily you are financially, emotionally or intellectually invested: it is only money and pride that will get hit. Those things mean nothing in the light of a wasted life.
My wife always said: I’d rather live in a mud hut happy and proud than a castle bitter and twisted. But that’s my wife. Some people get their kicks out of happiness, some out of castles. I am not here to judge, and think that if it weren’t for people’s love for castles we wouldn’t have much to look at in the landscape…(and don’t give me any hippy-crap about the beauty of a mudhut landscape: ask Medieval Mandy whether she thought mudhuts look gorgeous) the fact is that it isn’t the mudhut or the castle that dictates whether you’re going to be happy. The other salient point to remember is that some people live in a mudhut by default. They got stuck in a mental script which meant they dislike everything the castle stands for and moved into the hut. That’s not active free choice either. That’s your hippy friend who tells you they loathe your £400 Northamptonshire-made shoes, but doesn’t mind free-loading. And vice versa; some people will do anything to live in the castle. Debt (this is turning quite Eurozone-topical) seems largely to be the end-product from a quasi pathological fear for being associated to a lack of affluence. A Faustian attitude to what we perceive to be success, will indeed give the devil your soul…(I don’t know where I am going with this either) whether it is for castle or mudhut is largely irrelevant, whether you are willing to sell your soul for it, very much is.
So is the GCC the devil? Am I the battling Faust? Far from it, the GCC is not the devil, its occasional and accidental mediocrity is. In apparant direct contrast with my earlier “I am not here to judge” statement, I am willing to judge that. I am even willing to convict it. The problem with such brazen ardour and bravery is that on further analysis it appears that the GCC is the act of consensus between people populating a panel, a council which dilutes passion, focus and attention. It’s a “necessary evil”. But how “necessary” is it? The iphone would probably never have happened if Apple was run by council. But then if Xerox had been run by Steve Jobs it would have been bankrupt. (Xerox invented the rudimentary interface which you see today on your computers in the form of desktop icons and was one of silicon valley’s pioneers but a very dull engineering-type of company)
I think there is no right or wrong in these things. I don’t mind when people work hard to make money, as long as it isn’t done at the expense of higher principles. I don’t mind if people while away their time in light-hearted entertainment, as long as it is done with purpose and meaning. I don’t mind some mediocrity in the name of collaborative consensus, because there is safety in numbers and the person central to the GCC is the patient, and the patient is very vulnerable, so the risk for mediocrity is equally heightened. Consequently the humanist in me says that the principle of protecting the patient outweighs the risks of being mediocre. And if mediocrity is indelibly associated to measures which safeguard the patient then so be it. (Whether this actually is the case or not is a different matter and I will look into it at some other time)
The one thing you can get from this is that everything that exists, exists because it works well enough to exist (Darwin all the way) and can always be improved upon. Sometimes by adaptation, sometimes by extinction. There is no good, there is no evil. There is just their respective appearances. What I have come to understand over the past 8 months (and then some) is that I am not rejecting the regulatory process, the GCC, its council or its process, I have revoked my membership with the GCC because some people living within it created a lie which is designed to create a comfortable breathing space for people who think that merely pronouncing “they have the best interest of the patient at heart” is enough to be believed or for it to be the case. In the meanwhile nothing really changes and that is not acceptable in my opinion. That’s why I am going to be playing by different rules. Rules which have sometimes driven me to dispair and mean I don’t see my children much, but which are just and fair for the patient.
And that makes me a clinican.
What are you?
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