Background: The chiropractic profession has succeeded to remain in existence for over 110 years despite the fact that many other professions which had their start at around the same time as chiropractic have disappeared. Despite chiropractic's longevity, the profession has not succeeded in establishing cultural authority and respect within mainstream society, and its market share is dwindling. In the meantime, the podiatric medical profession, during approximately the same time period, has been far more successful in developing itself into a respected profession that is well integrated into mainstream health care and society.
Objective: To present a perspective on the current state of the chiropractic profession and to make recommendations as to how the profession can look to the podiatric medical profession as a model for how a non-allopathic healthcare profession can establish mainstream integration and cultural authority.
Discussion: There are several key areas in which the podiatric medical profession has succeeded and in which the chiropractic profession has not. The authors contend that it is in these key areas that changes must be made in order for our profession to overcome its shrinking market share and its present low status amongst healthcare professions. These areas include public health, education, identity and professionalism.
Conclusion: The chiropractic profession has great promise in terms of its potential contribution to society and the potential for its members to realize the benefits that come from being involved in a mainstream, respected and highly utilized professional group. However, there are several changes that must be made within the profession if it is going to fulfill this promise. Several lessons can be learned from the podiatric medical profession in this effort.