Palmer College Develops Clear Identity For Doctors of Chiropractic

Palmer College Chiropractic News

There is growing value and acceptance for conservative approaches to health care. Given chiropractic’s conservative, vitalistic and patient-centered approach, chiropractors are well positioned to assist patients in improving their spinal health and overall well-being. Unfortunately, too many people are not aware of what chiropractic can do to improve their health. At least some of the public’s poor understanding of chiropractic stems from the lack of a clear identity for the profession and description of what chiropractors do.

Palmer College of Chiropractic
More than three years ago, Palmer College of Chiropractic Board of Trustees Chairman Trevor Ireland, D.C., decided to begin a project designed to increase clarity and unity in chiropractic’s public messages. As an outcome of this project, Palmer College hopes to promote better understanding of chiropractic, leading to greater utilization and better health through chiropractic care.

In June 2009, Dr. Ireland initiated a Board of Trustees-directed project to review and update Palmer College of Chiropractic’s guiding documents. He appointed Board of Trustees Secretary General Vickie A. Palmer to lead an ad hoc committee, which ultimately developed a relevant and marketable identity that explains the role of the Palmer Doctor of Chiropractic, specifically, and all chiropractors, ultimately.

“Ever since the founding of chiropractic by my great-grandfather, D.D. Palmer, Palmer College has had the distinct role as leader in this profession,” Ms. Palmer said. “I think my father summed it up quite well with his statement, ‘Palmer is to chiropractic what sterling is to silver.’ And we continue that tradition today.”

The Palmer Identity Statement for chiropractors is: The primary care professional for spinal health and well-being. It is supported by a number of documents, all of which are available on the Palmer website at This web page also includes a video that explains the development process and benefits of the Palmer Identity. The development process included several rounds of surveys, focus group discussions and committee refinement before taking the penultimate drafts of the language out to a wide-scale audience as a final test in spring 2012.

“We reached out to thousands of people in our target audiences including our faculty and staff, students, alumni, patients and the general public during our research phase,” said Dr. Ireland. “In the end, more than 3,500 individuals provided feedback on our language proposals. So we feel that we have a good sense of what people think about chiropractic, what we think about it and how we can merge the two.”

The Palmer Board of Trustees unanimously approved the Palmer Identity Statement, Chiropractic Pillars, Mission, Vision, Values, Philosophy Statement and Practice Paradigm in June 2012. The identity was then introduced to faculty, staff, students and alumni during Palmer Homecoming 2012 on the Davenport Campus in August 2012, and through the College’s alumni magazine, Insights, in October 2012.

“I don’t want this important work on identity to be misconstrued,” said Palmer Chancellor Dennis Marchiori, D.C., Ph.D. “Palmer is not in mission drift. The College knows who it is and we know what we’re about. This identity project is really an initiative to explain and to communicate to those outside the Palmer community about the unique experience and benefit of chiropractic, and specifically Palmer. We have something special here at Palmer and we’re excited to clearly communicate it to the world.”

The benefits of widespread acceptance of the Palmer Identity Statement by a majority of chiropractors are far-reaching. With chiropractic firmly established as the third-largest form of health care in the U.S., behind medical doctors and dentists, Palmer’s identity efforts are intended to preserve that core identity while building greater collaboration within the national health care system. The language approved by the Board reinforces that direction by providing not only an identity, but a description of what chiropractors do.

“I feel very strongly that we have the catalyst now in place to bring about a unity message to our profession with our core identity still intact,” added Dr. Ireland. “We appeal to the mainstream, which also includes the scientific and the academic communities. We can give these messages to a medical doctor, a legislator, an attorney, a teacher or anyone else and they can get a true understanding of what we’re about.”

While the Palmer Identity documents were intended to provide an identity for Palmer doctors of chiropractic, College administrators hope that the statement and supporting documents, because of their simplicity and clarity, will be embraced by the entire profession. “Right now, we’re claiming this identity for Palmer,” added Dr. Marchiori. “But clearly our hope is that this work generates a larger effort for all chiropractors in the profession to embrace their role as the primary care professional for spinal health and well-being.” @ 1:44 am | Article ID: 1353393841