Immigration and Practice Building!

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It appears that we are about to see a great influx of immigrants into this country as our government prepares to open the doors, and perhaps give amnesty to those who are already here illegally.  It is quite likely to happen and it presents some great opportunities and some great challenges to chiropractic.

The opportunity lies in the estimate that in the next 10-20 years we could see as many as 60 to 110 million new people come into this country.  Many of these people will come from Mexico and Central and South America.  Stories from chiropractic mission trips and chiropractors who have emigrated to that part of the world indicate that the people are very positive toward chiropractic.  Chiropractors have related how people line up by the hundreds, even thousands to have their spines checked.  You do not see that in this country at your average shopping mall spinal screening.  I am not sure of the reason and do not know whether it will translate into more people coming to chiropractors from the immigrant communities or not.  However, I have personally found that these groups tend to be close knit and when one person comes in the office, they quite often refer others.  This holds true for Hispanic, Asian, Middle Eastern and the Russian communities in my area.  There is a great opportunity as people from these countries pour into the United States in unprecedented numbers.  I would venture to say that phenomena is likely to spill over into other countries like Europe, Australia and other areas of the Pacific Basin. 

With this great opportunity to serve more people comes the challenge of creating a learning opportunity for these people to become knowledgeable about chiropractic.  We are going to have to find ways to educate people who are not conversant in the English language.  This is especially important when you are practicing a non-therapeutic approach to chiropractic, an approach that will be as foreign to an immigrant population as it is to the average American.  It is important to our practice that people understand our unique objective.  It is difficult enough to get people who understand the language to comprehend it, let alone those who do not.  The problem is further compounded by the fact that we are not talking about just one nationality.  Granted the majority who will be coming into the country will be Latino but there will also be people from India, Korea, China, Russia and Eastern Europe.  My area already has large communities of the above people.

So what do we do?  Well, first we need to have our entrance forms and particularly our Terms of Acceptance translated into as many of these languages as possible.  We need to begin now.  Ask one of your bilingual practice members to translate your entrance forms and Terms of Acceptance so you are ready for new practice members who do not read English.  This is also a good public relations project.  People coming to a foreign country are impressed and grateful when someone speaks to them in their own language.  I know I was appreciative on my trips to Japan, Argentina, Canada and New Zealand (okay I’m kidding about Canada and New Zealand).  Not only do we need to have our intake forms and explanation in their language, we need to have a basic explanation of chiropractic available to them.  This could be quite expensive and time consuming.

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