Canadian Professors Visit Three Chiropractic Schools (1962)
Georges A. Bergeron, M.D.
Albert Jutras, M.D.
In 1962, when the Parliament of Quebec was considering whether to license chiropractors, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Quebec asked two prominent medical professors to investigate the educational and training standards of three representative chiropractic schools. The College subsequently concluded that (a) chiropractic is a false theory; (b) the education of chiropractors is below acceptable standards; and (c) chiropractic is potentially dangerous. Here is the professors' report, which was highly unfavorable.
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
THE UNDERSIGNED, GEORGES A. BERGERON, DOCTOR OF MEDICINE, Member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec; Titular Professor of Practical Physiology at the School of Medicine of Laval University, Quebec; Secretary of said School; Fellow and Vice-President of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; etc.,
ALBERT JUTRAS, DOCTOR OF MEDICINE, Member of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec; Titular Professor and Director of the Department of Radiology, School of Medicine, University of Montreal; Director of the Service of Radiology, Hotel-Dieu of Montreal; Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada; Officer of the Academy, France; Certified in Radio-diagnosis and Radiotherapy at the Royal College of Canada; Diplome in Radiodiagnosis and Therapy at the University of Paris; Ex-President of the Association of Radiologists of the Province of Quebec; Ex-President of the Medical Society of Montreal; Ex-President of the French-Canadian Society of Electro-Radiology; etc., declare the following:
At the request of Attorney Georges Pelletier, of the members of the Executive Board of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of the Province of Quebec, and of the Dean of the School of Medicine of Laval University, we accepted, on Thursday, May 3, 1962, to visit conjointly three schools or colleges of chiropractic, the names of which follow:
- Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa, USA
- National College of Chiropractic, Chicago, Illinois, USA
- Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Toronto, Canada
According to the instructions which we received, our observations were to pertain particularly to the scientific and pedagogic qualities of these institutions; we were asked to pay special attention to the laboratories of scientific teaching and of clinical diagnosis, as well as to the services of radiology.
Being in a hurry, we lost no time, and accomplished this mission in the following order:
- Monday, May 7, 1962, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, Iowa.
- Tuesday, May 8, 1962, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: National College of Chiropractic, Chicago, Ill.
- Wednesday, May 9, 1962, from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.: Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, Toronto, Ont.
Palmer College of Chiropractic
741 Brady St., Davenport, Iowa
We omit the general description of this establishment, as well as that of the others, moreover; the prospectuses that were given to us and the photographs reproduced in them suffice to give an idea of the whole.
The doors of the college stood open, and we had no difficulty whatsoever about going in. Having told the first person we saw that we wanted some information on admission and financial requirements, we were conducted to the OFFICE where a very obliging gentleman took charge of us. Like polite and modest people, we gave only our family names, and declared that we had children who were interested in knowing more about chiropractic and about the school. No one ever asked us for other details of identification, such as first name, occupation, social standing, etc. Our mentor seemed to be animated by a single preoccupation: to convince us that chiropractic was a good deal and that Palmer College was the principal school, the parent of all the others, the "CHIROPRACTIC FOUNTAINHEAD." It was after having heard a publicity-filled speech to this effect that we were invited to explore the grounds where the future of our children was being prepared.
Our CICERONE announces that to begin with he will take us to the LABORATORY OF OSTEOLOGY. The latter, he tells us, is located in the "Band Wagon Building.” To reach this building, the name of which evokes a circus, we have to cross a garden that is bizarre but small in size. Identical sculptures of animals and birds abound here; they are placed with rococo style among real and false fountains and small, bright-red shelters, where formerly, it would seem, the patients of B.J. Palmer went to relax after their treatment. This humanitarian custom is no longer practiced, but the garden, visible from the street, continues inevitably to draw the attention of the passers-by.
Having crossed this carnival-like clutter, we arrive in front of a construction in the style of a domestic garage, but of greater dimensions, especially in height and length. Our guide halts to explain to us that B.J. Palmer had had it built in order to house the "Band Wagon” that he had bought from the Ringling Brothers when their circus was disbanded. The "Band Wagon" is now located in Sarasota, Florida, having been sold to that well-known philanthropic organization that looks after pensioned or invalid circus artists and employees. In place of the band wagon, today one sees high, windowed cabinets housing incongruous objects, pieces of bone that would be useful particularly for the study of the rachis. This museum wouldn't permit the complete study of the skeleton, that is, bones, joints, ligaments, discs, etc. Far from that! Because what can be seen there is, above all, an infinite number of vertebrae, some real, others enormous and artificial, made of papier-maché by former students. These gigantic vertebrae, by their number and their size, occupy most of the space. We noticed two mounted skeletons with very deformed, sinuous, and broken down spinal columns. The cause of the deformations remained unknown to us because the backs of these skeletons were glued to the wall. Among the animal skeletons we identified some monkeys. There was also the rachis of a giraffe, and enormous authentic vertebrae that must have come from an elephant and must be used for the instruction of chiro-veterinarian.
A large number of old posters depicting clowns, acrobats, and wild animals decorated the ceiling and the top part of the walls.
At the entrance, with their backs to the two swinging doors, some thirty chairs were lined up in 3 or perhaps 4 rows. This is very few when it is known that there are not less than 400 students in first year and that there are only five mornings of class a week.
The classrooms occupy the entire upper floor of the two-story building called Clinic Building. These rooms, five in number, are vast; the largest ones are able to contain up to 250 chairs. The rostrum, the blackboards, and the negatoscope are very far from the back rows. We verified that from the back of these large rooms it is difficult to discern writing and images presented in the front. Moreover, it is probable that to hear the professor without straining, a loudspeaker would be necessary. We didn't see one.
We also established that between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. of this Monday morning of a non-holiday week, only one classroom was occupied by students. This is an astonishing fact when one knows that the prospectus states that class hours are from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., and that the school is reputed to instruct 1,000 students during the first part of the day. We are surprised not to see more students around the school during these rush hours.
In one of the rooms there was a multitude of small benches, about 18 inches high, with a piece of old tire attached on the top, for the students to practice spinal massages and “to gain speed," explains our guide.
It is subdivided into a multitude of little rooms, some open, the others closed. The first are manifestly bereft of patients;
we are told that the others are occupied by students giving treatments, but during the entire visit we didn't see one door open, we didn't hear one noise indicative of human presence.
Each of these little rooms contains the small couches traditionally found at a chiropractor's. In some of the small rooms there are neurocalometers and dynamometers, instruments measuring infinitesimal variations of heat or electric potential on the skin. These devices, previously studied by the medical profession, were abandoned as worthless and classified as pseudoscientific because of the uncontrollable causes of error in reading the dials and in physiological interpretation.
Bordering the large room with the little treatment rooms in it is the small room which is supposed to be the laboratory of diagnosis. We are not asked to go in because the door is locked, but it is unnecessary for one can see quite well through the large windows opening into the corridor. It is about 15 feet wide and perhaps 20 to 25 feet long. White and chrome pieces of furniture are piled up against one another along the walls. There is also a laboratory table and a microscope under a glass globe, as well as some instruments and bottles. All this seems to be to clean and in too perfect ~ order, much more reminiscent of a store window display than of a laboratory serving for biological, bacteriological, and hematological tests in the everyday routine of a medical clinic in active use.
A second laboratory exists in an adjacent building. This better resembles a laboratory of medical teaching when we arrive; it is actually occupied by sixty students at work. They are manipulating some bottles and some test-tubes that they pass through a gas flame. Without being able to confirm it, insofar as we are looking on from the doorway, it would seem that they are performing summary analyses of urine. The prospectus reproduces an edifying photograph of the laboratory. It must have been taken on the day of its inauguration. However that may be, this laboratory is reserved for the teaching of elementary techniques of chemistry or biochemistry.
Nowhere did we see a laboratory or a space reserved for physiology.
We saw the lecture hall where, it appears, pathological anatomy is supposed to be taught. The teacher, a physician no longer practicing his profession, explains to us that the microscope-slide projector that..is set up in the middle of the room is, for teaching purposes, better than individual microscopes.
The dissection room is large enough to hold two rows of four tables of shining metal, less long and less wide than dissection tables at medical schools. Not the least odor characteristic of these places in medical schools. Everything is impeccable. Not the least trace of a human cadaver. Our guide explains that only cats or fragments of human bodies are dissected
here. He showed us no sample of one or the other.
Several times since the beginning of our visit we had made references to radiography, and each time we were promised a demonstration. Finally we arrived at this so-called department, which is located in the sub-basement close to the dissection room. But, as if by chance, our guide doesn't have the key. In any event, this couldn't be more than a simple and single room, to which it is hardly probable that patients are brought regularly, considering the uncleanliness of the surroundings and the distance from the clinic.
Even though instruction in radiology is spoken of in the prospectus, it must be theoretical, elementary, and certainly in no way resembling that which takes place in the least of the medical hospitals.
It is housed in a low, somber, poorly ventilated room that at the most is 20 by 30 feet wide. It is composed mainly of old medical books from the beginning of the century and concerning a variety of subjects, medical and secular. We discovered very few books of medicine, chiropractic, or anything else that could be considered recent.
To judge by sight, the total number of books must oscillate between 2,000 and 3,000. This library, which is presented as an object of admiration, is derisory both by number and by quality. No newspaper, no recent journal as would be found in the least of the medical libraries in which, on the contrary, new publications overabound. Some students are reading or chatting among themselves around little tables in the middle.
PERSONAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE PEDAGOGIC CIRCUMSTANCES AT
PALMER COLLEGE OF CHIROPRACTIC - IOWA
The following considerations are based on what we have seen and heard ourselves, in person.
Admission requirements are not very clearly established in the catalogue of the Palmer College of Chiropractic. We cannot confirm that this is done purposely; however, we got the impression that high school graduates, or students that have completed the eleventh year of study, are admitted without difficulty. To give themselves leeway, they add that admissions are judged individually. The text makes a general recommendation that students be well prepared physical and biological sciences, English, history, and civics.
However, for all practical purposes and according to the remarks of our guide, previous studies don't seem to be an important factor in admissibility, and even though we implied that one of our candidates was in the process of failing his first year in pharmacy, this fact elicited no reaction nor any additional interrogation.
According to very subtle precautions in the choice of words on the part of our guide, "the ability to pay" decidedly seemed to be the capital requirement for admission. This impression accords with the statement of an American doctor who, for the last three years, has been studying the problem of chiropractic and its encroachment on medicine in the state of Iowa.
The catalogue mentions four years of studies of nine months, containing 975 hours each for the first two and l,267 hours each for the last two. This apparently very heavy schedule doesn't prevent the students, for as much, from being free from 2 o'clock in the afternoon until the next morning.
The faculty for 1,000 students and more is composed of 5 professors, 10 associate professors, 7 assistant professors, and 10 instructors, a total of 28 [sic]. While we were there we saw only a very few on the job. Most of them teach only in the morning. at best, that is, part time. In fact, with the exception of the office of the dean of the college and of the officers of administration, during our visit we saw no professor's office nor any laboratory where someone was doing professional or personal work of any nature whatsoever.
If one attempts to stipulate the qualifications of these professors, one observes that if they are all "doctors" in chiropractic and that ten of them are Ph.D.'s [sic, read: Ph.C.’s] that is, philosophers of chiropractic (Philosopher of Chiropractic), there is only one professor who has a master of science degree, and one other, a master of arts. Moreover, there are three associate. professors and one assistant who have bachelor of science degrees. The professor with the best academic rating is a doctor, who, in addition to his diplomas as a doctor of medicine, possesses a bachelor of science degree and a Ph.D; this is the pathology professor. It was not explained to us why he had ceased to exercise his profession, and we didn't have the nerve to ask.
By comparison, a school of medicine like Laval, with half as many students, that is to say, a registration of 545, counts 43 titular professors, 48 agregé professors, 151 university assistants, and 179 assistants. All of these professors hold at least a bachelor of arts or science degree, a doctorate in medicine or in science. Those who possess the grade of university assistant have all specialized for at least four years after receiving their doctor in medicine, or for the scientists, more than three or four years of continuation after their courses in the school of science..
National College of Chiropractic
20 North Ashland Boulevard, Chicago, Ill.
This college is housed in an antiquated apartment building on the corner of the street. We presented ourselves in the same way we had the day before at Palmer College of Davenport. It is about ten o'clock. Contrary to what we saw at Davenport, the students here are swarming allover the sidewalk. It is just as old and it is more dirty, but at least there is some movement.
The ceremony of introduction is brief and simple once more. We give our names, but without saying that we are doctors.
Decidedly, in such schools no one worries about the quality of the parents. We mention that one of us has a son who is interested in knowing how one becomes a CHIRO; the other has a daughter who is undecided between physiotherapy and chiropractic. Immediately, a publicity-reaction is set loose and we learn in less than no time from the young lady who is the secretary that, in GRADUATING from the NATIONAL COLLEGE, the girl in question would become not only a CHIRO but, in addition, a physiotherapist and much more; she would even be a COMPLETE DOCTOR except that she would not be able to use drugs or to perform major surgery. Minor surgery and even the theory of obstetrics and gynecology are taught. However, to qualify officially for these latter, a supplementary course (POSTGRADUATE COURSE) is necessary; this course, it seems, is not too difficult.
In contrast with Palmer College, which, we were told, has held up to 4,000 students at one time, the capacity of the National College of Chicago is limited to 250. In fact, a new college, which will be an imposing structure if one is to judge by the design posted on the wall, is being built in a suburb.
According to the prospectus that is presented to us, one would think oneself in a veritable medical school. We are curious to see to just what extent these DOCTORS who are so sure of themselves can compare their instruction, their formation, and their standards with those of our schools and the requirements of our Provincial College.
To the left of the entrance hall, facing the office of administration, is the main classroom for theoretical courses. It can hold 100 students. During our preliminary conversations with the office personnel, we saw the room fill; the class was not yet over when we left an hour and a half later. It was the only significant scholastic activity we saw during our stay at the college. There are other classrooms, but they are empty, inactive, when we go by. In one of the rooms designated for practical training, we surprised some students, stripped to the waist, who had just been practicing on one another. At any rate, we didn't see them at work because they stopped abruptly when we appeared. Our guide, in a sincere voice, regrets that we are too late for the real demonstration.
We saw two of them. The larger one, the chemistry laboratory, also opens onto the entrance hall, next door to the room of theoretical courses mentioned above. It consists uniquely of a certain number (7 or 8) of those long tables common to laboratories of practical teaching of chemistry. From our arrival at the college we have had lots of time to observe this laboratory through the wide-open door, and from the start we decided that it had not served its normal purpose for a long time, so bare the area appeared. The tables, abnormally clean, were bereft of those phials, beakers, and tiny pieces of equipment that generally, and usually permanently, encumber all the furniture and shelves of classroom laboratories fulfilling their normal functions with assiduity. This rather large room contained, on our arrival, some students scattered around the room using empty tables as work desks. Later, when we passed by there again during the course of the visit, we stopped again on the threshold of the large door, still open, and saw a professor at the rostrum welcoming a few individuals around him. Something was about to happen when the door closed. Around half an hour later, the same students came out of the laboratory in question; if a demonstration had taken place, it was already finished.
We saw a SECOND LABORATORY on the floor below in a much small room (15 by 20 feet), this one also in a state of complete cleanliness, like after a big house-cleaning. Everything was put away, out of sight, scrubbed to perfection. Not one student, not even a professor, not even a technician or a laboratory aide. In looking over the prospectus, after our visit, which was complete according to what the DOCTOR and DIRECTOR who took us around had to say, we had every reason to suppose that it is this same laboratory which is described and redescribed under three different labels: the CLINICAL LABORATORY, the HISTOLOGY LABORATORY, and the MICROBIOLOGY LABORATORY. In the descriptions pertaining to each of these laboratories, which 1 are presented as being different from one another, the enumeration of the same instruments is repeated with variations in the terminology, additions and subtractions according to the needs. The unsuspecting reader lets himself be frankly convinced that these are distinct entities. To be noted is the repetition of the number 40 in these variation on a same theme. In any case, it is the only laboratory they showed us with characteristics and instrumentation which could correspond to the three laboratories specified and described in the catalogue. In reality, with a little crowding, 40 students could fit in this room. Our guide surely told us that it is there that all the examinations of the clinic laboratory take place, a clinic in which, they claim in the prospectus and viva voce, several hundred patients are treated each day. This laboratory, however, was deserted and without any vestiges of recent operations when we entered at one o'clock—said to be one of the busiest hours for both the clinic and class work. Are these laboratories used for any-thing more than publicity? We didn't think it was worthwhile asking about.
Here as at Palmer College, what are called CLINICS consists of a multitude of small open rooms all in one large room.
These are different in that they all contain one or two authentic pieces of physiotherapy equipment which resemble those used in medicine: ultraviolet and infrared rays, electric currents, diathermy, ultrasonic (equipment), intestinal irrigation, etc. There is even a small whirlpool bath for the treatment of the extremities. Thus, at the National College, they make no bones about mimicking the gestures of true medicine.
Just as at Palmer College the day before, the little rooms have no patients in them. With the one patient is a single person: student or doctor, they don't specify.
So what are the hours of intensive work in these schools?
In one small room in a corner of the CLINIC section there is an antique electrocardiographic apparatus. Moreover, in another small room, they show us an equally old model of a basal metabolism apparatus.
Such is the outmoded instrumentation that constitutes this pseudo-laboratory of electrocardiography and metabolism, in which the graduates are invited to specialize, as the prospectus indicates.
It goes without saying that we didn't have the honor of meeting the "specially trained clinician" who is in charge of practicing there and of teaching, all alone, two very delicate specialties of diagnosis.
"ANATOMICAL LABORATORY," such is the title by which is designated the dissection room and the cadaver chamber. At the National College they make fun of schools where cats are dissected. Here they are more serious, because they dissect human bodies.
In the prospectus the description begins as follows:
The laboratory is large, well lit, and completely adapted to the teaching of the dissection of the human body. It is equipped with nine tables completely covered with chromed steel," etc.
When we arrived in the famous BIG LABORATORY, we saw that it was hardly more than 30 feet long by 12 feet wide. In fact, there were only eight tables and that was already far too many. In reality, these tables, even '.though they are placed very close to one another while not in use, form a compact, rectangular mass that takes up nearly the entire room; only a narrow passage is left between each of their extremities and the side walls. Moreover, the free space at the two ends of the room is really tiny; even by using these areas to separate the tables a little more, the space between them wouldn't be sufficient to allow several students around each one at the same time. In medical schools it isn't rare to have eight students work together on the same cadaver, with two students at each extremity. This requires some elbow room because, first of all, the arms of cadavers are spread out cross-wise, and secondly, professors and prosectors have to be able to move about freely to observe techniques and give explanations. In such a restricted area, it is evident that eight tables cannot 1 be used simultaneously, not only for lack of space but also for lack of air. Some fifty students working at one time on eight cadavers in such a small place would not last long. The prospectus claims that this room is WELL VENTILATED; in fact, we did not notice the special ventilation system that would be necessary to make air breatheable for such a large number of students and professors working for two or three consecutive hours around several cadavers exposed there, the stomachs open, for several weeks.
It is in an extension of this room that the supply of cadavers is kept. They offer to show it to us, and we don't refuse. Our guide opens an ordinary-looking door and five human corpses come into view, thrown helter-skelter on top of a big box of rough wood painted black. This chest, which is approximately five feet high and the same wide, occupies in height and width virtually all of the closet. This latter is low, not cooled, and does not at all give off that odor peculiar to preservatives. Three cadavers are stretched on the chest side by side on their backs with the lower extremities dangling. The two other bodies are piled on top of those in the first layer. All five are in a state of great dirtiness but not in a state of decomposition. They even seemed to be still fresh. The genital organs regard us coldly, shamelessly.
Looking at the sinister arrangement of these cadavers and the architecture of this charnel-room, one of us (Jutras) cannot restrain himself from saying to the doctor-in-chiropractic guide: "I saw Dachau . . and this reminds me very much of the Germans' gas chambers." The comment surprises our host who, as of now, decides it is time to put an end to the exhibition.
What happens but that he is unable to get the door closed: the main screw of the lock is loose and prevents the mechanism from functioning; a blow of the fist suffices to put the screw back in place and make closing it possible.
What will happen to these cadavers? spread out in the air in this nonrefrigerated and non-hermetically sealed cavern? It's really necessary for someone to decide to put them into the big chest on which they're piled. But how can the cover be raised?
Before leaving the dissection room, we are made to admire some five or six fetuses in preservatives, all shriveled up in very small jars. There are also anatomical fragments of very uncertain value in other containers. It is to these sorry-looking specimens that the titles of laboratories and museums are applied. in the aforementioned prospectus, and these are the ones that are used for teaching embryology and the rest.
In this regard, the demonstration contains nothing macabre even for secular eyes, but basically the abuse takes on a sense of extreme seriousness because it endangers living human beings.
At the National College of Chicago they use x-rays really quite readily, not only to view the shape of the spinal column, but also to mimic authentic radiologists in their diagnostic research.
Now, here is what happened to us from the beginning of our visit. Our guide, no doubt recalling that we had questioned him about radiography during our preliminary conversations, stops suddenly and asks us to enter a room where there is an illuminated negatoscope (luminous box), and on a little table, a good-sized stack of envelopes common to medical radiography.
Our MENTOR takes the four or five files out of the first envelope and places them on the illuminated surface one after the other, all on the wrong side, that is, with the head of the patient to the bottom. We aren’t less surprised to see that they concern a gallbladder containing an iodized substance such as that administered by doctors to patients to render the viscera visible to x-rays. Our demonstrator doesn’t realize that the gallbladder in question contains stones; as he goes on to a second envelope, he announces that this one concerns a gallbladder. He certainly hasn’t realized that the preceding radiograms showed, with precision, stones in the gallbladder. In this second series, the bladder contains no stones but it, also, is presented upside down. Very learnedly, our doctor in chiro explains to us that a certain drug was given to the patient and that made the gallbladder visible; he wishes to point it out to us, but his finger sketches not the organ in question but a loop of intestine a little distended with gas. He then continues the demonstration by showing films of the stomach and the small intestine, still with the head of the patient plunging toward the ground, and with his index finger he traces the movement of aliments . . . the wrong way, because the path followed goes from the intestines toward the mouth.
To terminate the proof of the importance of x-rays in chiropractic, he declares, "Here is a chest case." He hesitates for a moment before he sees that the summit of the thoracic cone ought to be placed at the top; an any rate he manages to do it, but nonetheless in finding a way "to put the left side on the right.
Having met our guide in the administration office and in view of the crass ignorance with which he displayed the radiographic films, we thought at first that he was simply an office employee. But not at all! he is a DOCTOR OFFICIALLY QUALIFIED IN CHIROPRACTIC AND PROFESSOR OF DISSECTION, as he himself confirmed unequivocally when we specifically interrogated him later. That he didn't know how to interpret an x-ray film was to be expected, but that an instructor of anatomy could be so grossly wrong as to the position and direction of the viscera, this is more than disconcerting.
Medical students, after several months of study, know how to place films correctly on a negatoscope. How can the CHIROS recognize the lesions of an organ according to the nuances of the radiographic shadows when they don't even summarily know their normal aspects?
Now, let us get on to technique!
They showed us two radiological installations. The first one is situated not far from the SMALL CLINICAL ROOMS. Here the examination table, in a horizontal position, occupies the greatest part of the little room it is in. Just enough space remains for the manipulator to be able to move around between the table and the wall. The apparatus, a simple kind, is not, however, outdated, and is appropriate for ordinary x-rays of viscera and bones. The negatives that we saw and which are probably products of this apparatus were of good technical quality, we admit it freely. What is inacceptable in this installation is the flagrant insufficiency of protection against radiation.
How can the PROTECTORS OF PUBLIC HEALTH on one hand manifest so much tolerance toward the chiros and, on the other, demand so many controls and precautions when it comes to radiologists and well-informed physicians who are aware of the immediate and remote dangers of x-rays? .
At least in this first radiographic station there is a lead panel next to the operator's stand; it is behind this narrow screen that the operator must take refuge during the showing of films to shelter his gonads from the radiation.
But the other station we saw is completely exposed in a large classroom. It seems as though it must be used especially for instruction of spinography, that is, radiography of the entire spinal column all on one long film. The installation would be condemned from the start and done away with with no further ado if our rigorous genetic experts should happen by here.
According to the technique of such long films exposed to x-rays without minute restriction of the primary "pencil" or of the secondary radiation, the harm to the reproductive cells affects not only the subject examined but the genes of all the students in the class. The latter is composed of young people, boys and girls, with all their procreative potential. If the chiropractic profession is supposed to be passed on from father to son as is often the case among doctors, there is room to think that the end products of these lines will not be to the glory of the authorities of our generation who will have permitted so much carelessness, laissez-faire.
If there was a library we missed it. Nothing during the course of our visit revealed its existence.
GENERAL IMPRESSIONS OF OUR VISIT
If we expressed them, you would think we were exaggerating. The cynicism of Palmer College makes one smile; at the National College, it disgusts. For the Moliere of chiros, the two schools complement one another.
PERSONAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE PEDAGOGIC CIRCUMSTANCES
AT THE NATIONAL COLLEGE OF CHIROPRACTIC, CHICAGO
The chiropractic college of Chicago admits students who have completed four years of high school or the equivalent. Here again, the policy seems indulgent and easy to compromise with regard to the admission requirements, provided that one is not guilty of having violated the requirements of the various American states. In other words, it isn't concern for the previous training of the candidate which decides his admission to the courses of chiropractic, but a more or less scrupulous satisfaction of the rules of the state where the future chiro plans to practice.
The faculty of the college of chiropractic of Chicago contains only 18 professors, but we have a strong suspicion that most of the teaching responsibility rests almost entirely on the shoulders of just a few. Take, for example, the case of Professor G. T. P., doctor in chiropractic, bachelor and master of science. He is simultaneously all of the following: (a) director of the department of chemistry, where inorganic chemistry, biochemistry, toxicology, and vitaminology are taught; (b) co-director of the department of psychology; (c) associate professor of the department of microbiology, of immunology, of public health, and of hygiene; (d) associate professor of the so-called department of diagnosis where he must present a condensed instruction of clinical chemistry, theoretical and practical semeiology, cardiovascular pathology, gastrointestinal and genitourinary pathology; (e) in charge of practice of and specialized teaching of electrocardiography and basal metabolism.
This case is not an isolated exception; another professor, doctor, in chiropractic but without any other special title, teaches simultaneously in the department of pathology, in the department of chiropractic practice, in the department of diagnosis, and in the department of psychology. Another, co-director of the department of anatomy, teaches at the same time in the department of pathology, department of physiology, and department of chemistry.
Such a diversified and heavy teaching load for these men presupposes a universal knowledge that is not possible today, even for geniuses of erudition. In addition, a duty so crushing as to teach in science and such a variety of disciplines would exclude all possibility of scientific life and all research projects of any value.
Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Onto
Next to the COLLEGES of Davenport and Chicago, this one has the air of being a country school. It isn't that the humbug is less here, but the decor is less impressive.
We are no longer perplexed about how to get in. For the third time, we utilize the same procedure as the two days before with the same success. We give just our names, without our titles, of course; we point out that we are French-Canadian; this can be heard by our "English" which we are speaking with no particular care; we declare that we each have a child who wishes to know more about chiropractic, the college, the expenses, the admission requirements, etc.
The remainder of the visit is modeled after a scenario similar to those of the preceding days, although more modest.
This begins again with a talk in which they explain to us the economic benefits of chiro for one who holds the title and the few worries to have relative to studies and obtaining a diploma. The demands of the CURRICULUM VITAE present nothing frightening, and imitate the easiness of the two anterior colleges. We will recall them in our commentary on the whole.
They inspire pity. A pair of old, wooden, communicating family houses, to which has been added a two-story brick annex.
The capacity of the school, according to our estimate, is something between 100 and 150 students. At two o'clock in the afternoon, when we went there, we didn't see any, either at the entrance or in the neighborhood. The hour of classes was past, we know now. In the lobby where we waited, people were leaving. Hearing us talk, an honest fellow identifies us as natives of Quebec. He is having his wife treated here for a cold that has lasted for two weeks; his sister-in-law had the same thing . . . and the chiro cured her, he said.
A large room, called the AUDITORIUM, on the second floor of the new construction, seems to be the place where most of the school activities take place. It contains a good number of those low, narrow beds used for chiropractic maneuvers. At the moment when we come in, a dozen young people, of which two are girls, are practicing accident aid, of the type Ambulance Saint-Jean. One of them is a French-Canadian. Graduated just a short time before, he tells us that he studied CHIRO because you have to do something, that it seemed that this pays well, and that he "didn't have a head like Papineau." [sic].
He reveals to us that he does have a B.A., which is already something. We ask him if he has done much dissection. He answers. "Mostly cats."
Another rather large room on the floor below is presented as a dissection laboratory. All that brings to mind practical anatomy in this room is the delicate and solitary skeleton of a cat on a shelf, and two metal tables turned over against the wall. A rectangular opening about 30 by 40 inches near the floor and obstructed by a wooden panel is the orifice of communication with the cadaver chamber. This latter is opened very obligingly for us and we have the happy surprise of seeing that, contrary to the charnel-house of the National College of Chicago, this is a real ice-box. that is very well kept up.
A layer of ice on the walls, furnishings and objects testify to the fact that the point of freezing is attained. We don't stay for a long time in the ice-box, which is, however, the only room that has offered us a certain moral comfort since the beginning of our three visits. The cadavers are exposed with dignity. Under the narrow, thin shrouds we can recognize two human bodies, one complete, the other partially dissected. On a number of large enameled platters, anatomic segments can be seen, large and small, these also partially covered with cloths, ,preventing us from cataloguing them as coming from humans or animals. The specimens are certainly very insufficient in number and in variety for a serious and complete instruction of normal and pathological human anatomy for future DOCTORS, but we are happy to discover that here a sense of respect—at least for the dead—subsists.
Let us remark right away that the prospectus of the college of Toronto makes no mention of its laboratories. This discretion is justified because they are, one might say, inexistant or, in any case, hardly more in space and instrumentation than the personal installations of our practitioners. Let us point out, however, that they have just constructed a fairly large room in which a laboratory for the teaching of chemistry will soon be installed. The water, gas, and electric pipes, as well as drains, are already poking through the ground like clusters of flowers, eighteen in number. If each of these units could serve at least two students at the same time, the capacity of the laboratory in question could offer a maximum of 36 places.
What they showed us as serving currently for a laboratory is summed up in a small room with some ordinary instruments, and drawers that they told us contain microscopic slides for teaching. Old fragments of organs and viscera in some 50 glass, or plastic, containers, are set on the two shelves. The pedagogic value of these samples judged together must be estimated as nul.
The registrar, whom we questioned about this subject, told us that it's a good deal for those who are interested in exploiting it. He doesn't advise anyone against it, but, as for him, he does without it: his hands are enough for him. When he needs an x-ray, he sends his patient "to somebody else." We asked him if the "somebody else" was a real radiologist or a chiro who possessed a machine. As he must, but in subtle terms, he ended up by declaring himself for the chiro.
He promised to show us the installation, but here as in Davenport we are unlucky: when we arrive at the spot, the door won't budge, and just as at Palmer College, our new CICERONE doesn't have the right key, this one either. What a strange coincidence! . . . then, without waiting very long, he leads us on. It is obvious from the closeness of the doors and rooms on either side that the dimensions of the space reserved for this radiographic post are much too restricted for an installation corresponding to the technical and intellectual demands of scientific radiodiagnosis as it is today, or for the rules of protection against the various dangers of radiation. Let us emphasize that if we didn't see the apparatus with our own eyes, we saw a photograph of it in a publicity brochure; at any rate, there is every reason to suppose that it is the same, because there was no question of there being another x-ray post in the building. If this is really the case, whereas the apparatus is not completely obsolete, at least it is little edifying as an educational aid.
The only other thing that we encountered that concerned radiography in this Toronto establishment is a SPINOGRAM—a roentgenogram showing the entire vertebral column—which was placed on a luminous box in the so-called DISSECTION room. This SPINOGRAM showed only the gross deviations of the rachis photographed. Even though it was superior to anything of the kind that we had seen up to this time, the film didn't have the qualities necessary for an exacting analysis of the alterations of the bony pieces and the intervertebral discs, which could barely be seen. In medicine, such a film would just miss being enough for the beginning of a radiological investigation, whereas in chiropractic, it is the LAST WORD; we will stop there. How far one is from the precisions pro-vided by the rigorous and refined procedures like myelography, tomography, cineradiography, angiography, and other methods in general use among qualified radiologists. When these men are of the opinion that there is pressure on a nerve, they must be able to give a proof that is visible and acceptable to the treating physicians and surgeons. In medicine, radiological diagnoses don't remain at the level of lucubrations and connectures: thev are constantlv checked and rechecked by a whole series of other methods, the strictest of which is pathological anatomy.
Neurosurgeons and orthopedists who operate each day on vertebral columns under the supervision of authentic pathologists know that it is not with a single x-ray like a spinogram and the palpation of bones that the existence, the nature, the extent, and the repercussions of a veritable vertebral disease will be established.
PERSONAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE PEDAGOGIC CIRCUMSTANCES
AT THE CANADIAN MEMORIAL CHIROPRACTIC COLLEGE, TORONTO
The academic requirements of admission to the Toronto college are practically the same as those of the two other colleges visited, that is, the eleventh or the twelfth year. However, it was pointed out that those holding bachelor of arts degrees from the Province of Quebec are dispensed from chemistry courses at this institution, signifying that a graduate of one of our regular colleges knows all the chemistry that a chiropractor has to know. In contrast, the knowledge of chemistry possessed by a bachelor of arts constitutes the minimum required for admission to the study of medicine, and it is beginning with this minimum that the student will undertake much more advanced study in ordinary chemistry and in biochemistry, basic elements of medical training. That which for the chiros is accepted as the end is only the beginning for doctors.
The faculty of the college of Toronto is composed of 18 professors among which can be distinguished a doctor of science and holder of a Ph.D., a graduate nurse turned chiropractor, a bachelor of science, and a philosopher of chiropractic. All of the other professors possess the title of doctor of chiropractic, nothing more.
GENERAL COMMENTARIES ON THE THREE COLLEGES VISITED
A certain number of supplementary considerations seem to merit formulation.
The undersigned made the visit together without ever being separated from one another, so that all the visual and auditory observations inscribed in this report constitute a doubly controlled testimony.
During the course of the trip and in the joint editing of the report, each one of the two signatories has done his best to remain impartial, objective.
Certain asides noted above, beyond the scope of visual and auditory observations, are only for the purpose of enlightening the secular reader and of unmasking those who pretend to be men of science in publicity texts.
Among the complementary observations which are equally applicable to the three institutions, we believe we ought to record and emphasize the following:
(a) No one asked us, the parents of the would-be candidates, what was our profession, our social status, or any other detail pertaining to the family which might be capable of influencing the personality or the morals of the son or of the daughter apt to study chiropractic.
(b) No one questioned us spontaneously and methodically about the scholastic preparation, the character, and the special aptitudes of one or the other candidate. All that they knew was what we ourselves told them in order to obtain collateral information.
(c) Financial profit is the preoccupation that seems to dominate the minds (of all involved), as much in the relationship between the student and the school as in the promise of a successful practice. The principal aspiration seems to be resumed in the formula of a doctor from Davenport who quoted to us, "Anyone who can write a check is welcome."
(d) In the three colleges they explain that the official course of four years of nine months each may be contracted and reduced to 36 months.
(e) In all three colleges the classes are supposed to begin at 8 a.m. and finish at 2 p.m. It is clear that such a schedule permits very justifiable liberties, for who would be so cruel as to prevent someone from eating at the usual hours like everybody else?
(f) In these three colleges, it is considered normal for the students to work during the afternoons and evenings at paying jobs that have no connection with science or culture. They feel that it isn't necessary for the students to study outside of the school and that it's good for them to earn money to pay for their studies. Moreover, the administration arranges to find employment for students who want it.
(g) Nowhere did we see anyone whosoever in the process of carrying out work that could confirm or annul chiropractic claims. Most certainly they have borrowed from medicine books, techniques, apparatuses to attract and influence clients, but nothing fundamental has changed since 1895: everything is diagnosed and cured by palpation and "adjustment" of vertebrae. Why and how? That isn't important; the only thing that counts is the testimony of those who have been cured.
(h) Each of the three colleges disowns the others. Davenport and Chicago are openly at war with one another. In Chicago, they say: "Toronto is absolutely nothing! A little tiny school. We know it because most of their professors come from here." In Toronto, they say: "We have nothing in common with Chicago. Here, we are 'straight'. Our school is connected with D. D. Palmer, the forerunner, the inventor." Clannish wrangling, not science.
CHIROPRACTIC SCHOOLS VERSUS SCHOOLS OF MEDICINE
Chiropractors claim to be the equals of doctors in the art of healing and demand the same rights. To support their demands, they hold up the excellence of their schools that they maintain are as good as medical schools.
During our investigation we established DE VISU the futility of such pretensions and acquired the firm certitude that in these chiropractic colleges:
A. The laboratories for teaching the basic sciences are insufficient as much by the material organization as by the work disciplines.
B. The faculty has neither the knowledge, nor the pedagogic culture, nor the time required to transmit to the students the basic sciences indispensable for the understanding of vital phenomena, neither in a normal condition nor during the course of diseases.
C. The little intellectual preparation and aptitude required of the students admissible to these colleges, as well as the little effort required of them to obtain a diploma, emphasize the superficial in the training of a chiropractor.
In support of the above assertions, observe that no university, not even the most generous, has recognized enough merit and moral responsibility in chiropractic schools and colleges, to accord them the affiliation that is enjoyed, in many cases, even by schools of minor professions.
Assuredly, chiropractic colleges imitate universities in distributing doctorates and Ph.C.’ s, grotesque counterpart of the Ph.D.; assuredly, in the image of American university students, the future chiros have created a "fraternity," a "sorority", and "alumni" for themselves, but :this is of no consequence and fools no one. In this tendency to mimic universities and university students should be seen only the desire to pass for authentic doctors and to buy cheaply the authority conferred by the title.
Finally, let us remark once more that, in all of its more than 65-year history, chiropractic has never made the least progress in the knowledge of disease or the means of suppressing it. How could it with its scarcity of learned men and the weakness of its institutions?
According to the verifications and objective evaluations that the visit to three of the principal chiropractic colleges has permitted us to make, we believe ourselves to be authorized to formulate the following conclusions.
Chiropractic, which in theory aims to restore the structural and functional integrity of the nervous system by the discovery of defects in the vertebral column and the adjustment of the spinal articulations by using the hands only, is trying to appropriate the means of diagnosis and treatment that scientific medicine has created and perfected.
By this very tendency, chiropractic schools tacitly recognize that chiropractic does not reasonably protect patients from either gross diagnostic errors or injurious delays in the application of appropriate treatment.
Thde judicious use of modern methods of diagnosis and treatment necessitates a much more profound knowledge of the basic sciences and a much mrre advanced clinical training than that that could be provided by the chiropractic schools that we saw in action.
To entrust the health and life of patients to disciples of these schools is to encourage the flowering of incompetence and the return to the occult practices of the middle ages.
It is very true that a good number of diseases and anomalies affect the vertebral column and affect the tributary nerves, but to recognize them with exactitude and to treat them judiciously, application of the hands is not enough; this requires all of science and all of the technical means of today’s medicine and surgery—knowledge and ability that we saw in none of the three schools that we visited.
In short, there is only one way to learn medicine: the right way. It is not in chiropractic schools that this is found . . . at least, not according to what we saw.
This article was posted on September 7, 2004.