Did you miss it? Struggles & Sacrifice: the History of Chiropractic in New York State

250 years of priceless, living, breathing chiropractic experience packed into five chiropractic legends for one hour …

UNITY was the message on Wednesday, October 11, which saw the monthly meeting for District 15 of the New York State Chiropractic Association take place on NYCC’s campus.  In the North Dining Hall, a dinner was hosted by NYCC and followed by the educational component of the meeting, which consisted of a panel of legends in the chiropractic profession in New York state.

The brainchild of the District 15 Executive Committee (Drs. Amorette “Rae” Smith, president; Allison Fleming, vice president; and Sarah Penkin, recording secretary – all of whom are NYCC alumnae!) and a labor of love of its main organizer, Dr. Penkin, the evening was a tremendous success! Five chiropractic greats who have been involved in chiropractic in New York state since the 1950s and 60s recounted the battles for recognition – the triumphs and failures of those early days – and had sage counsel for students and practicing doctors alike.  The panelists were Drs. James Vandenberg, a Logan 1953 grad; David Redding, a CMCC 1960 grad; Robert Gerlach, a Logan 1948 grad; Michael Lamendola (a Logan grad who started practicing in 1959; and NYCC’s own chancellor, Kenneth Padgett, a Lincoln 1951 grad.

In addition to unity, the message of these legends was support of a single chiropractic state association. As evidence of the need for unity, the panel recounted historical events showing the advancement of the chiropractic profession in New York during periods of cooperation among chiropractors and setbacks when factions would undermine one another, instead of putting aside differences for the greater good.  These sages explained that chiropractors have been their own worst enemies over the years in the struggles for both licensure in New York and a reasonable scope of practice.  The panelists catalogued the dissension within the profession that led to multiple professional organizations, often competing with one another and undoing the progress made by the other.  They also had praise for the recent joint efforts of NYSCA and The Council to secure modernization of state chiropractic laws.

Interesting to note, the panel concluded, is that chiropractic students have long been confused by the factions in the profession, asking: “Why is there a division in chiropractic? Why can’t we get along to advance the profession?”  The panelists pointed out with chagrin that often, by the time students graduate, they too have taken sides in the debate, adding to the confusion of the public and lawmakers and preventing progress.  The panel urged students, doctors, and associations to continue to cooperate as a profession to help pass proposed scope modernization in the State of New York. The proposed law, which is broad in scope, allows all to practice as they prefer within the bounds of their state-approved education.

By Todd Knudsen, DC


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