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Chiropractic Journal of Australia : CJA September 2012
Chiropractic Journal of Australia Volume 42 Number 3 September 2012 89 WORK FORCE STUDY SURVEY EATON et al Chiropractic has three schools established and one 'on the way.' But this view of competition would be advocated by politicians and economists. The vast majority of chiropractors in the survey did not believe that either physiotherapists or osteopaths were signifcant competitors for their services in the marketplace. This view was held irrespective of the chiropractor's income. The training institutions for chiropractors are dominated by ‘supply side thinking’ without particular reference to demand. That is, universities will offer places in their chiropractic programs as long as there is a plentiful call for such places and as long as it is in the universities’ interest to fll them. This boosts supply of chiropractors without reference to the demand for chiropractic services. It is important that the educational system responds to the workforce needs as questions arise as to whether the supply of chiropractors in Australia meets either the needs or the demand of the general public for this service. Mior and Laporte 26 have reported a long-run over supply scenario in Canada and have suggested that educational institutions should make efforts to understand the factors infuencing supply, both for graduates and the existing profession. At the time the survey was constructed the output from the schools was in the order of 200 graduates per year. At that rate, there was perhaps an understandable response that for those respondents who thought there was an undersupply also reported that they believed that the production of chiropractors at the current rate, or perhaps at an elevated rate, is desirable. However in contrast to this, respondents who believe that there is an oversupply of chiropractors in their state are equally divided as to whether there are too many or the correct number of graduates being produced by the schools. This can be interpreted to mean (at least in part) that current levels are adequate but continued production of new graduates will lead to oversupply in their state. With the advent of a new school in Queensland in concert with enrolment growth in the existing schools, may contribute to an oversupply in the long term. Although supply cannot be considered in isolation from demand, consideration should be given to the notion that any increase in the supply of chiropractors in the Australian market place will stimulate increased demand to more than compensate. This phenomenon is called 'supplier induced demand.'27 CONCLUSIONS The results of the frst part of WFS presented in this paper show some noteworthy patterns. Looking at the demographic aspects, it appears that there is an increase in the number of female practitioners in the traditionally male dominated Australian chiropractic profession. The higher number of female chiropractors, particularly among the younger cohorts, suggests that the gender ratio among practitioners might be changing. According to the Australian workforce statistics there are notable differences in work preferences between male and female members of the workforce. This implies that presently, and in the near future, the structure and modus operandi of a typical chiropractic practice might endure some changes. Our study concurs with the currentAustralian statistics data, suggesting that the average income of the local chiropractors is just above AUD $100,000 and signifcantly above the average Australian earnings. This, coupled with the relatively low number of working hours of the surveyed chiropractors suggests that the profession allows for a comfortable and rewarding lifestyle. This, it might be hypothesized, is one of the reasons for the increased interest in chiropractic profession and decision to introduce a new, fourth training facility, based in a government funded university. A large majority of surveyed chiropractors obtained their qualifcations from the Australian tertiary institutions. This suggests that further support from the professional bodies to the academic departments, both fnancial (scholarships, grants and funding for research in chiropractic, etc.) and academic (invitation to academics to get involved in the work of professional bodies, workshops, activities in continuing professional development, etc.), should be encouraged. This is particularly the case in the feld of research and postgraduates studies. It has been recently estimated that “much of the positive evolution of chiropractic can be ascribed to a quarter century-long research effort.” 5 This survey reveals that only a small proportion of chiropractors hold PhDs and worryingly, these individuals belong to the older cohort of respondents. This study found a trend toward gaining chiropractic qualifcation locally rather than overseas. There seem to be different attitudes among respondents concerning the issue of the workforce supply and demand. This is not surprising bearing in mind the multi-causality of attitude formation, particularly about complex issues such as supply and demand. It could be argued, however, that there is a general feeling that there is an undersupply of chiropractors in the Northern Territory, Tasmania and, although fndings here are more ambivalent, in rural areas in general. These factors should be considered by professional and educational bodies when advising students and new graduates and planning curricula. Overall, the frst selection of results from the WFS seems to suggest that chiropractic in Australia is a healthy and growing profession. It is hoped that more data from all three stages of WFS, which will appear in print shortly, will shed more light on the place of chiropractic within the Australian health system. REFERENCES: 1. Australian Institute Health and Welfare. Health expenditure Australia 2009-10, in Health and welfare expenditure series no. 462011. Can- berra, Australia. 2. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Complementary therapies in Australian social trends 2008. Canberra, Australia. 3. Xue CC, Zhang A, Lin V, Da Costa C, Story DF. Complementary and alternative medicine use in Australia: a national population-based survey. J Altern Complement Med 2007;13(6):643-50. 4. Cooper RA, McKee HJ. Chiropractic in the United States: trends and issues. Milbank Q 2003;81(1):107-38. 5. Meeker WC, Haldeman S. Chiropractic: a profession at the crossroads of mainstream and alternative medicine. Ann Int Med 2002;136:216- 27.
CJA June 2012
CJA December 2012