Let’s talk about diversity in chiropractic
Sumaya Ahmed outlines why the chiropractic profession needs to be more proactive to improve diversity
Diversity matters for many reasons. It is important that we are an inclusive profession that reflects the society in which we live. Greater diversity and an understanding of different cultures and communities allows us to better meet the needs of Black, Asian and other ethnic minority patients, many of whom recognise the benefits of non-invasive chiropractic treatment.
To achieve meaningful change, we need action on several levels. From recruiting more young people from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds onto chiropractic degree courses to ensuring there is a greater focus on diversity and equality across the profession.
Through my work as Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the Society for Promoting Chiropractic in Education I am passionate about encouraging more young people to pursue a career in chiropractic. With the support of a newly created ‘taskforce’ we want to raise awareness of chiropractic and give more young people from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority and disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to learn about the profession.
Over the coming months I plan to visit schools across the country to talk directly to students as well as inviting selected students to visit a university setting so they can find out more about chiropractic degrees. It’s important that young people from different backgrounds see a career in chiropractic as a valid option for them.
There is little doubt that the lack of representation in the chiropractic profession has an impact on our ability to attract and retain students from different backgrounds. It is important that students have role models who are relatable and reflect their culture and community. Simply seeing themselves in ‘us’ can be enough to inspire a career.
I’ve seen first-hand both as a student and an educator, the lack of relatability between educators and learners. This has led to many uncomfortable situations, which could be rewritten with the correct approach.
With both patients of chiropractic and chiropractors historically being majority white, as a profession we must all do more to improve our understanding of different cultures and communities to ensure we are able to effectively address the needs of both students and patients from all backgrounds. For this reason, I would like to see a greater focus and engagement with equality, diversity and inclusion in our Continuing Professional Development (CPD).
Talking directly to people from Black, Asian and other ethnic minority backgrounds about the issues they face and asking them to share their experiences is an effective way to build awareness and understanding. Therefore, I invite speakers from different communities to address Year 4 students. Hearing personal accounts helps all students understand the best way to communicate with patients from different backgrounds and recognise specific cultural needs that will make patients feel more comfortable during treatment.
At London South Bank University, I am encouraged to see growing numbers of Black, Asian and other ethnic minority students choosing to pursue a career in chiropractic and thus becoming role models for future generations. We have the potential to achieve real change across the chiropractic profession, but we need to be proactive and encourage allyship/unity.
If you would like to be involved in the EDI Task force for the Society for Promoting Chiropractic in Education please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sumaya Ahmed is a registered chiropractor based in London. She is also Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the Society for Promoting Chiropractic in Education, and Admissions Tutor (chiropractic) at London South Bank University.
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