As usual, there are several reasons.
In France, 50 years ago, physiotherapists were seen as medical auxiliaries. The training was short, 2 years, and the medical profession made sure that your general medical knowledge was weak enough to prevent you from becoming a serious competitor in the field of musculo-skeletal medicine. In those days, being a physiotherapist meant following to the letter the treatment plan established by a medical doctor with few possibilities to take initiatives My frustration grew until one day friends of my parents introduced me to their chiropractor.
I remember to this day, my meeting with that inspiring man who galvanised me and motivated me to investigate chiropractic. Soon, I realised that the training was rigorous and long enough to equip me to become exactly what I wanted to be: an independent practitioner able to make a diagnosis and decide if I could treat or if I should refer.
In those days, being a physiotherapist meant following to the letter the treatment plan established by a medical doctor….
Nevertheless, there were a lot of obstacles to overcome. The length of the training, at that time 4 years; the fact that in those days the only training institutions were either in the US, Canada or the UK and assuming that I would graduate, I would come back to practise in a country where chiropractic was considered as the illegal practice of medicine.
I was still young and I must admit that the prospect of becoming a pioneer in my native country fired me up rather than frightened me. After a few years, however, I decided to leave France and settle in the UK where chiropractic enjoyed a more positive status.
Things have changed a lot since, and both France and the UK have given chiropractic a legal status. In the UK, since 1994 the Chiropractor Act regulates the profession and it is illegal for anyone who is not registered to describe themselves as a chiropractor. The same legislation was passed for physiotherapists a few years later. Regulation comes with regulatory bodies, professional associations and colleges.
Physiotherapists and chiropractors need by law to be registered, to hold professional indemnity insurance, and to comply with continuing professional development.
Regulation has positive implications for our profession and our patients. An example of this is the Royal College of Chiropractors’ Patient Partnership Quality Mark (PPQM), an award obtained after a rigorous audit showing that a chiropractic clinic can demonstrate excellence in meeting patients’ expectations in cleanliness, safety and patient expectations.
I am proud to announce that the Guildford Chiropractic Centre has just received this prestigious award for the 4th time running. For me, personally, this is just further confirmation that it was worth making that career change all those years ago and coming to practise in the UK.