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Most newly qualified health professionals will focus the initial period of their career on establishing confidence in clinical practice. While this is absolutely correct, it can be too easy to forget the other roles available to enhance their career, make it more varied and fruitful and broaden their skills and expertise.

During pre-registration training, students are exposed to two important areas that some may return to during their careers. The first is research. Research can take many forms, from highly academic studies to practical service development or simple practice audits. Students and registered chiropractors need to distinguish good research at all levels from that which isn't sufficiently rigorous. This ability should form a natural part of their practice and ongoing development during their career.

All professions need researchers to carry out studies and share research findings. These people help advance the thinking in that profession and justify current clinical methods. 

The profession also needs more experienced registrants to help colleagues learn, from their point of entry into pre-registration studies to developing as competent professionals once they are registered. The role of a teacher or mentor to newly qualified chiropractors and other healthcare colleagues is invaluable. Being good at teaching and encouraging others both from within and outside of education institutions requires skills that many professionals have and could use for the benefit of others. 

Those taking part in such activities invariably gain much satisfaction and learning as it helps keep them sharp in their own practice and see others develop and flourish. Support can come in many forms, from simply providing student placements or taking on hourly paid clinical roles to lecturer positions. 

Every regulated health profession has been on a journey with these two themes. More established professions such as medicine and dentistry have many students and registrants who naturally include research within their training and career paths. These themes have gradually become more common in other professions such as nursing and physiotherapy. 

Smaller or less established professions are still encouraging registrants to contribute to these areas and help provide a solid body of research that informs and advances practice. Furthermore, as most learning in healthcare happens in practice settings for the vast majority of anyone's career, other professions have also embedded an expectation that most registrants will help train, teach, and encourage others. 

As one of the nine regulated health professions in the UK, chiropractic is at an early stage in establishing a body of excellent and reliable research and breadth and depth in its teaching and mentorship capability. To help align chiropractic more firmly alongside others in healthcare, I would encourage all students and registrants, at whatever stage of their career, to take opportunities available to get more involved in these two areas. Doing so will enrich daily practice and provide additional satisfaction to that gained in using their skills and experience to treat patients. 

Sharon Oliver

Lay member of GCC Council and Chair of the Education Committee


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