Campbellsville University chiropractic program debuts ‘A new model for chiropractic education’

The Campbellsville University chiropractic program answers issues DCs annually raise in our Schools Survey in regard to business preparation and cost

OFFERING THE LOWEST TUITION AMONG CHIROPRACTIC SCHOOLS, unique technologies available to students, flexible final-year clerkships including online education from anywhere in the country and a promise to arm future DCs as “profitable business leaders,” the new Campbellsville University chiropractic school program welcomed its first class of students last month on the campus in Harrodsburg, Ky.

The two most common issues in Chiropractic Economics’ annual Schools Survey from participating doctors of chiropractic is the cost of a chiropractic education and a lack of business education, both of which the Campbellsville program addresses front and center.

Campbellsville University chiropractic: lowering tuition and raising opportunities for success

Whereas most chiropractic graduates embark on a career with upwards of $200,000 in debt, the Campbellsville University chiropractic program boasts a 20% lower tuition than most other programs with a $103,000 total tuition.

The Campbellsville School of Chiropractic made the cost of tuition as low as possible by working with the Christian-based Campbellsville University to utilize already-existing departments such as security, maintenance, enrollment, student services, and marketing to lower expenses.

“We teach students to take the least amount of student loan debt and we work hard to find lucrative scholarships which will reduce the necessity for higher student loans,” said Dennis Short, DC, and associate vice president of chiropractic education. “And much of the student loan debt is due to living expenses in addition to school expenses. By having our school in rural America, students will be able to capitalize on this lower cost of living.”

A better business acumen

Many graduating chiropractors end up opening their own clinics, and a long-standing grievance in the industry has been the lack of business preparation at chiropractic schools. A number of chiropractic schools have responded over the last few years with increased business class offerings, but the Campbellsville University chiropractic program has made it a major part of their curricula.

Classes will include education and experience with contract interpretation, understand the pitfalls of associateship or lease negotiations, corporate structures and the tax advantages, insurance billing and coding, financial statement interpretation, practice statistical analysis, helping doctors maximize profits, marketing, and more.

“The success of a good university is not only based on the institute’s ability to graduate students, but also the success of those students after graduation,” said Trevor Foshang, DC, DACBR, and dean of chiropractic education. “Although some chiropractors do well, many struggle financially and often leave the profession. There are of course many variables that affect individual success, but one of the major causes is the lack of business knowledge. Students are often overwhelmed, and if business education is optional, they will fail to see the value of a proper business education. That is why we have made it mandatory for each student to complete four business courses designed by Dr. Dennis Short. Dr. Short has had tremendous business success with chiropractic and wanted to increase success within the profession by sharing that knowledge.”

Schools Survey: DCs recommending chiropractic schools are up

This year’s doctors of chiropractic responses to the annual Schools Survey showed a large jump in DCs who would recommend chiropractic, an increase in DCs who would recommend a school other than their alma mater, but a drop in the number of dedicated “industry cheerleaders.”

DCs recommending chiropractic schools to prospective students has been on a downward trend over the last three years, but this year rebounded to a little over 80%, matching the high from three years ago and displaying increased belief in the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Again this year, the biggest statistical change was DCs who said they would recommend chiropractic schools other than the ones they attended. This number rose to a record 85%, continuing a rise of 12% over the last three years, and further signaling that chiropractic colleges need to meet the competition and “beat the bushes” for new students rather than relying on alumni recommendations.

Perhaps due to the large retirement rates of older DCs, the “industry cheerleader” index, or chiropractors that recommend chiropractic school to five or more students a year, fell to 21%, a 3% drop and the lowest number in survey history.

Model education and technology

The “New Model for Chiropractic Education” at Campbellsville is a three-year plan, with 3.5 years of full-time study and 223 credit hours:

Year One: Foundation – A year of study incorporating basic science foundation courses with clinical concepts, with classes including clinically-oriented anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, microbiology, hematology and immunology.

Year Two: Development – Developing reliable clinical skills and honing problem solving and critical thinking through case scenarios and close mentorship, classes include physical diagnosis and functional assessment, public health and epidemiology, diagnostic imaging, toxicology and pharmacology, and emergency procedures.

Year Three: Mastery – Building confidence and skill through purposeful experience, students complete community-based clerkships and business courses, and tailor their experience to meet their professional goals. Classes include active and passive therapeutics, clinical nutrition, business principles, case review, health care teams and leadership.

Technology in the Campbellsville program, in addition to the standard X-ray and table tech, includes:

Force-sensing tables Campbellsville is among the first chiropractic schools in the world to utilize force-sensing tables, which simulate chiropractic adjustments and give students real-time feedback. Three large monitors show students the angle, force and time-delayed analyses of their adjustments.

3D anatomy and physiology simulation systems Touch-screen tables help students visualize and understand the anatomy and physiology concepts of a real human body with a fully-segmented 3D anatomy system without the ethical and practical issues associated with the traditional use of cadavers.

360 motion capture Software in the Bluegrass Chiro Student Clinic adds the power of artificial intelligence to help students develop better diagnostics in a real-world setting.

A COVID launch pause

When the Delta variant of COVID-19 shut down in-person learning across the U.S., the Campbellsville University chiropractic program put a hold on their opening plans in 2021.

“COVID-19 has slowed the world down and it has equally affected Campbellsville University,” Foshang said. “We did not want to open the School of Chiropractic while we were experiencing the challenges of remote learning. Our curriculum has hands-on learning in the first semester, and we feel a top-notch chiropractic education would be difficult to do remotely. We pushed our opening date back and are happy to report that, even though there continues to be a mask mandate in Kentucky, our inaugural cohort will enjoy in-person learning.”

The program is also on-course to receive accreditation from the Council on Chiropractic Education.

“Any new program must earn full accreditation over time,” Short said. “We currently have approval from the regional accreditor to offer the Doctor of Chiropractic degree. The Council on Chiropractic Education requirements are being followed, and we anticipate receiving full accreditation on time and well in advance of our first cohort’s graduation. With Campbellsville University’s long history of commitment to quality education and accreditation, and our implementation of accreditation systems built into the program, and with our academic dean’s previous experience as a council member and peer reviewer, we are confident full accreditation will be achieved as planned.”

Future growth and goals

Despite a small first-year class, typical for beginning chiropractic schools building toward success, Campbellsville has the ability to host 500 students in its program, a capacity that would need to be reached and maintained before it entertained further growth.

“We are well prepared to buffer the lower enrollment as we continue to market the program and ramp up over time,” Short said. “Students are the lifeblood of any university. We do, however, realize it will take time for the world to discover there is a new chiropractic school in Kentucky.”

In the meantime, Campbellsville has delivered what many in the industry, including DCs in the field, have been asking for: lower tuition and greater business knowledge to better prepare graduating doctors of chiropractic for greater success.

“We are aware of what we do not have,” Short said of the Campbellsville campus in the heartland of the Midwest. “We do not have a beach nearby. We do not have ski resorts. If a student wishes to find a school with all those extracurricular activities, we are not the place for them. We are looking to be selective toward the diligent, high-achieving, intelligent student who believes a great education doesn’t have to keep you in debt your whole life. We are looking for the pragmatic student who understands chiropractic practice should be spiritually rewarding, but it must also be financially lucrative and with the proper education, it can be both.”

RICK VACH is editor-in-chief of Chiropractic Economics.


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