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To the Editor:
There is an inaccuracy in the otherwise interesting and informative paper by Passmore, Riva and Goldsmith.1 In their paper, which discusses the creation of a chiropractic working group at McMaster University, the authors make the following statement: “Within chiropractic educational facilities there are no formal programs cultivating chiropractic clinician researcher development” and they cite a 2006 paper by Haas and colleagues.2 This is factually incorrect. For the past 5 years Palmer College of Chiropractic has offered a master’s of science degree in clinical research through the Palmer Center for Chiropractic Research. This program, which was initially funded as part of K30 award from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the US National Institutes of Health, provides training in clinical research to the graduate fellows who matriculate into the program. Those fellows are, without exception, chiropractors who wish to obtain additional training in order to develop a career that involves the conduct of clinical research. Our fellows have included both new graduate chiropractors and those with many years of practice experience, as well as two dual degree participants (MD/DC and DC/PhD), as well as several faculty clinicians at Palmer College of Chiropractic. Information about the program can be seen at the program website: http://www.palmer.edu/pcc_current2.aspx?id=5290. I simply wish to set the record straight on this issue, but commend the authors for their informative work, which bodes well for the future of chiropractic research and education.
We would like to thank Dr. Lawrence and Palmer Chiropractic College for making us aware of their clinical research program.1
In our article we simply made an attempt to cite the most recent peer reviewed literature pertaining to the topic of chiropractic clinician researcher development which is why we cited the Haas, Bronfort, and Evans (2006) paper.2,3 In the generation of our article it was not our intention to complete a systematic analysis of programs existing at chiropractic colleges worldwide, although in light of Dr. Lawrence’s comments and exciting program such a paper could be timely.
Another chiropractic college (New York Chiropractic College), has had a “Fellowship” program in place since 2002. Their Fellowship program aids in the training of clinician researchers at mainstream research intensive academic institutions.4
Both of these programs (and other similar programs that may exist) should be applauded for their innovation in encouraging and supporting those who have already completed health professional degrees to explore research training.
Unfortunately to this author’s knowledge there are presently no entry level programs from an undergraduate degree leading to combined terminal clinical and research (DC/PhD) credentials, where all tuition fees are reimbursed or waived, and the student is provided with a stipend on which to live for the duration of both degrees. The debt load accrued by tuition payments for the clinical student is seen as a disincentive for the development of clinician scientists.5 Programs have emerged in other disciplines to decrease financial barriers in developing the clinical research leaders of the next generation.6 Funding this type of opportunity seems like a logical future goal for the chiropractic profession.