Hearts & Hands

The cofounder of ChiroMission shares how his organization offers a transformative experience for both patients and doctors.
 
By JC Doornick, D.C.
It’s a challenge to turn on a TV and not see something about a devastating tragedy occurring in the world. Whether it’s a child suffering from a terminal disease, an earthquake, tsunami or extreme poverty, these events engulf the news and evoke fascination from a world riddled with concern and fear. They create a complete shift in the well-being of hundreds of thousands of humans, adding to the popular notion that our planet is slowly being destroyed. Something must be done about this, right?
 
It’s times like these that elicit our need to react, to send out a relief effort. We start to build hope when we hear about a possible cure, or that Doctors Without Borders, the American Red Cross and the United Nations have arrived to save the masses. As humans, it is only natural that we build an emotional bond with this reactive model. Yet, beyond texting in a donation, we are too busy to help. We are taught that it is the relief aid workers who rescue people in times of need, and we’ve learned to count on them.
 
We are seeing a major shift and correction happening right now in both health care and the planet. More diseases and more planetary problems are being reactively “treated,” with no comparable effort toward the cause—just the symptom. People do know what we know as chiropractors but it’s not reaching them in the same connective manner. Why not band together and save the planet? Why not join together and completely change the model of reactive health care to a proactive approach? 
 
Where does Chiropractic Fit In?
Two of the biggest challenges our profession faces today are our perceived value and the wide variety of approaches and belief systems it encompasses. The basic principles of chiropractic are rock solid. By restoring tone and proper function to the body, it will flourish as intended. Isn’t that what is needed on this planet—to restore tone? The oscillating pattern of the road to success in chiropractic will go away when the world understands who the chiropractor is and the fact that our philosophy is what will truly get the world back on track.
 
If we are to be considered leaders in health care—recognized for our great potential and purpose—shouldn’t we be participating globally in the same fashion? Chiropractors possess a special skill and passion for service that offers patients an opportunity to manifest a better level of health. In the reactive model, this is not easily understood, unless something allows people to emotionally connect to it. 
 
When I spoke with the folks at Doctors Without Borders, I asked them what service they provide for people who are not sick. Do people need to have a problem to qualify for help? Our world is full of people in need of a better life. As chiropractors, we have the ability to use our hearts and hands to serve the masses— whether patients are sick or not! 
 
In the Beginning
Eight years ago I woke up with a feeling in my gut—I knew there was more to life and many people all over the world who were in need of help. I realized that I was spending 95 percent of my time and money building a practice that would, at its highest volume, serve five percent of my community. A noble cause and worthy of a chest bump at a seminar, but I knew I wanted more for myself.
 
That morning I experienced what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., referred to as the “fierce urgency of now.” I decided to call Doctors Without Borders and sign up to go wherever they could place me. Once they found out I was a chiropractor, the organization kindly denied my request to serve and suggested that I couldn’t assist with its allopathic efforts. 
 
After researching the realm of chiropractic humanitarian mission efforts, I found a wide variety of definitions for the words “mission trip.” Some organizations were primarily focused on spreading the powerful messages of their particular beliefs in religion. Then there were some groups that were known for their massive trips to third-world countries—bringing hundreds of DCs in to adjust thousands of people over one or two weeks. I found organizations that were very particular regarding specific techniques, beliefs and who was qualified to adjust. Ultimately, I discovered organizations with a lot of passion and great people, but I didn’t see a massive action plan that would connect our profession to the world. 
 
My vision was a movement to provide tone to our planet. Why not use our science, art and philosophy to make all the decisions in the world? I saw a parallel between chiropractic mission work and the profession back home. There were passionate and well-intended efforts, yet conflicting interests and ideas that made the whole thing a bit confusing. I saw the need for a universal approach that would have its doors open to anyone (chiropractic or non-chiropractic) who wanted to give of themselves to others in need. 
 
I joined Todd Herold, D.C., and Peter Morgan, D.C., to start ChiroMission. Our purpose is to promote chiropractic and adjust all those who are subluxated throughout the world, especially in third-world countries where resources are so limited. Much has changed in the past eight years. There are now many organizations that continue to raise the bar and selflessly serve the masses with great intentions. Their leaders work together for the greater good and deliver chiropractic’s science, art and philosophy to all. 
 
Beyond the Adjustment
The most common reasons people feel compelled to go on a mission trip seem to be that they are burnt out in life and practice, have lost their passion or fire, or have always wanted to go but never had time. Frankly, it doesn’t matter how we start—it’s a start either way, and that is powerful. When we meet these individuals who have heard the calling to selflessly serve humanity, we are honored to witness transformations which cannot be explained in words. 
 
ChiroMission recognizes that humans are simply representations of their current surroundings. Our wants, needs and tolerances are created in reference to our current realities. ChiroMission as an experience, provides participants the opportunity to get out of their comfort zones and experience something new. This enables participants to truly recognize all they have at home. This new recognition of abundance awakens us to all we have to give to others!
 
Most participants on our mission trips experience epic breakthroughs. Often just seeing how simple and valuable their service is as a chiropractor when placed in a sea of gracious people is an apt reminder of why they joined this profession. When recipients and outsiders have the pleasure of seeing this selfless service take place, they become emotionally attached to the servant and see that the chiropractor is more than the adjustment. It’s the person behind the adjustment and his or her intention that draws the natural connection to the population. 
 
At ChiroMission, we have had a parade of stars serve with us and share their powerful messages. Last spring, Life University President Guy Riekeman, D.C., traveled to the Dominican Republic with the elite members of The Markson Connection. Here is his take on the experience:
 
“Bottom line is we need more chiropractors.Statistically, there are 68,000 DCs in the USA, 8,000 or so in Canada, 3,500 in Australia/New Zealand and only 5,000 for the whole of the European Union which is twice the size of the USA and, get this, only 20 DCs for all of China. Until we can produce enough chiropractors to take care of the world’s needs, groups like ChiroMission are filling a massive hole and responsibility,” says Riekeman.
 
“At Life University, we were founded on the principle of Lasting Purpose [LP]: to give, serve, love and do out of a sense of personal abundance,” says Riekeman. “This LP is not bound by borders or politics. So, when we see the opportunity to not only provide chiropractic care to people who have no health care at all, but to provide food, clothing and housing, it is in our DNA as an organization to jump in with head, heart and hands.”
 
Riekeman continues, “In fact, we have a tribe of one thousand DCs, called LifeForce 1000, who have made a commitment to not stop until everyone on the planet has access to chiropractic care and education. They come from every chiropractic college and are bound together out of a desire to change the things that matter most.”
 
At ChiroMission, we don’t turn anyone away and only ask that all participants serve the people without the use of drugs and surgery and that they offer only the best of what they have to give. Whether a DC, student, MD or volunteer, everyone has something to offer and we make sure they are all very busy on our trips. Interestingly, when we interview medical doctors who go through the experience of serving without the tools of their trade, the responses are surprising. They frequently make reference to the fact that they wished they knew how to do what we do as it is hands down the most efficient and effective method of caring for people in the field. Then they make reference to the fact that they never knew the true soul and purpose of the chiropractor and they take home a new awareness and respect for the profession. 
 
There has never been a better time to be a chiropractor. I hope you can see that the world is eagerly waiting for us to help its inhabitants thrive.
 
JC Doornick practices at Westchester Family Chiropractic in New York. You can learn more about ChiroMission at chiromission.com.