Chapter 10, Part 4 – Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine Degree 1994

Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine Degree

In March 1994, a white paper entitled “Doctor of Chiropractic Medicine: A New Degree Program at Western States Chiropractic College,” was shared with the campus and Board of Trustees. DCM White Paper. At the May board meeting, the trustees directed Dr. Dallas and his administration to create and implement a doctor of chiropractic medicine (DCM) degree program. In its mandate to the administration, the board specified that approval or accreditation from OECC, NWASC and CCE would have to be achieved prior to implementation of the new program. No official accreditation or authorization would mean the school could offer no DCM degree.

The DCM degree was not an entirely novel concept; the DCM was already recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as a first professional degree designation. How the Department of Education came to list the DCM as a recognized degree remains a mystery, leading to a lot of speculation and guessing about who did it, how they did it and why they did it.

Shortly after the board’s directive, plans to pursue a DCM degree at WSCC were leaked to the chiropractic press, where both the college and the DCM concept were vilified. Unfortunately, many of the editorials and articles written about the college and/or the DCM degree contained distortions, misinformation, and misrepresentation. Despite the various authors’ attempts to discredit the DCM and mischaracterize how it would adversely affect the profession, their statements struck a harmonious chord with many in the chiropractic profession. More than 750 phone calls of support flooded into the college, many containing invitations for Dr. Dallas to speak at state or national functions. However, most of the callers wanted to know how soon they could enroll in the DCM program. In June, the editorial staff of the profession’s most widely read newspaper, Dynamic Chiropractic, ran an unabridged copy of the college’s press release about the DCM.

Dynamic Chiropractic’s press release re DCM.

The DCM certainly had its detractors. The DCM became a lightening-rod issue and the whipping-boy for those opposed to broadening the role of chiropractic in the changing health care delivery system. Any illusion the crisis caused by health care reform would unify the profession was precisely that – an illusion. If anything, reaction to the DCM Degree caused even more division within the chiropractic profession.

Western States Chiropractic College became a target for protest and outrage. Position statements opposing the DCM, and WSCC in particular, could be read in virtually every trade journal, periodical, newspaper and editorial from the chiropractic profession. Name-calling became a common practice as epithets were hurled at anyone associated with WSCC: heretic, traitor, MD-want-to-be, medi-practor and worse. Those who had always opposed the college’s broad scope approach to chiropractic became even more strident in their condemnation. A deluge of letters poured into WSCC, state licensing boards, the Council on Chiropractic Education, the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards, the ACA, the ICA and the Oregon state legislature. The college was picketed in protest, and prospective WSCC students were told to go elsewhere. Enrolled students were advised to transfer to another college, because WSCC was doomed. Unrelenting fear-mongering persisted for months. For some, it would be years before their anger subsided; for others, it never would.

In spite of all the misinformation, misrepresentations, lies, innuendo and accusations hurled at WSCC and the DCM proposal, enrollment increased. By August 1994, the college had already received 140 deposits for an entering class that could not exceed 150 students. As vociferous as the outcry was for the downfall of WSCC, prospective students heard something in the DCM that resonated with them. They wanted a DCM brand of chiropractic education.

In late fall 1994, the college sent a DCM degree prospectus to the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges and to the Oregon Education Coordinating Committee to test the waters of receptivity; the college needed know in advance just how difficult the path would be to obtain approval from these two organizations. The response from the OECC was astonishing. OECC concluded WSCC could grant a DCM degree without having to modify the Oregon Revised Statutes of the Chiropractic Practice Act. However, the OECC did recommend the college provide “evidence of need” for the new degree. Also, OECC preferred that the CCE be the accrediting association, but they recognized that it may be necessary to create a new accrediting body.

March 1994 Commencement Exercise Program.
June 1994 Commencement Exercise Program.
September 1994 Commencement Exercise Program.
December 1994 Commencement Exercise Program.

Protest over the DCM proposal reached deafening levels, but the college continued to advance. In late 1994, faculty members were enlisted to create a DCM curriculum in keeping with the white paper and its stated scope and purpose. The most contentious element of the proposed DCM was the limited use of pharmaceuticals. It occupied the center of the target at which opposition hurled its frequent denunciations. The college was willing to embrace script-writing privileges, but finding qualified faculty to conduct that aspect of clinical training would offer its own unique set of problems. The college would have to hire faculty who already had script-writing privileges, either medical doctors or osteopaths. For those most opposed to the DCM concept, hiring either amounted to “sleeping with the enemy.” Nevertheless, in early 1995, the college commenced a search for two physicians to assist in the development of a DCM degree program.

Despite the turmoil, the college attracted four qualified new faculty members in 1994. Laura Baffes, DC, joined the faculty to work primarily in the chiropractic hands-on laboratories where students honed their skills in the manipulative arts. Eventually she became the lead instructor in a wide-ranging variety of courses from narrative report writing to clinical neurology. She also taught the emergency & first aid course.

Catherine Cummins, DC, joined the classroom faculty to teach in the chiropractic sciences division and the clinical sciences division. After completing Dr. Stonebrink’s orthopedics diplomate program and obtaining her certification, Dr. Cummins began to sharpen her interest and expertise in the diagnosis and management of neuromusculoskeletal disorders. Dr. Cummins would go on to become the president of the American Board of Chiropractic Orthopedists. Dr. Cummins’ interest in sports-related injuries contributed significantly to the creation of elective courses in sports medicine and student participation in the delivery of care at dozens of sporting events.

Lisa Hoffman, DC, joined the college’s radiology department. Following completion of a three-year residency in radiology, Dr. Hoffman became a lead instructor in the radiology department, teaching the bone pathology sequence of courses. She would go on to serve as department chair for years. Dr. Hoffman was recognized by her students for always maintaining very high performance standards in her courses. Her tireless dedication to the enhancement of clinical education and her active participation in curriculum development contributed significantly to the enrichment of the college’s DC program.

William Borman, PhD, was the fourth of the faculty members to join the college in 1994. Dr. Borman was the college’s new anatomy professor, instructing in the classroom and in the anatomy lab. Dr. Borman’s interests were not limited to the field of anatomy, quickly developing a keen interest in the process of chiropractic college accreditation. This interest would lead to him to serve on numerous site teams for the Commission on Accreditation of the Council on Chiropractic Education. Dr. Borman went on to serve as the chair of the basic science department.