There are a couple of articles in newspaper this morning about the questionable claims of "need" surrounding FSU's establishment of a stand-alone chiropractic college. An article in the St. Petersburg Times notes:
On that front, the numbers are not in the school's favor.
Florida has more chiropractors per capita than the national average and needs 108 a year to keep up with demand, according to a recent staff report to the Board of Governors, which oversees Florida universities.
Meanwhile, a new, private chiropractic college near Daytona Beach is expected to produce 188 graduates per year by 2007.
Given the potential glut of chiropractors, a $60-million chiropractic school at FSU will be a tough sell, said Board of Governors Chairwoman Carolyn Roberts.
An article in this morning's Tallahassee Democrat expresses similar doubts about FSU's claims:
in its analysis of FSU's report, the Board of Governors staff called the school's premise "overly optimistic." The staff said Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida, a new school in Port Orange, expects to eventually graduate 188 students each year - more than enough to meet the state's demand.
Meanwhile, the Democrat reports, the lobbying arm of the Florida Chiropractic Association is pointing to active chiropractic licenses, which are down from 4,687 to 3,873 in 2004, as a basis for "need." This measure is specious, given the presence of a new private college which is now training chiropractors in Florida.
Further, without knowing the details about chiropractic licensing in Florida, one obvious question must be asked before making a policy decision based on licensing numbers. This is a drop in active licenses of more than 15%. That seems signficant and very odd. If, as the FCA claims, it is due to demographics (i.e., retirements), we ought to see that same demographic trend in other states for 2004. On the other hand, what percentage of the drop be due to official retirement of a license, as opposed to late annual licensing dues? In many professions, it is not uncommon for licensing boards to provide a grace period for the payment of dues. More frequently than you might expect, licensed professionals are behind in the payment of such things, or they may fail to comply with requirements such as submission of insurance of continuing education information. Within a year, the regulator can catch up with payments and other reporting information, but sometimes this takes time, since people move, etc. Again, we are being thrown numbers without any careful analysis. Hopefully, the BOG will carefully assess the numbers rather than take them at face value. Without knowing more, I am not sure they really mean anything at all.
Although it is unlikely, even if numbers do determine some need for chiropractors, or some need for more minority chiropractors (no one can argue with this!), there is the independent question of whether a research university such as FSU needs to step down this murky path. The University of Central Florida seems much better situated for such a college, if it is appropriate at all. Alternatively, if the state wishes to expend public resources to train minority chiropractors, it can give a tuition scholarship to minority students for a fraction of the cost of FSU's proposed program.