We know the refrain well. It echoes throughout not just Palmer West but all the chiropractic colleges: "Well, I think this adjustment should be done standing right here, but the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) wants to see you do it standing there.: Or "Here's how I teach taking the blood pressure, but the NBCE is expecting you to take it this way." As a student progresses through the curriculum, these types of assertions pile up to the point that there appear to be two curricula: one that the college thinks appropriate, consistent with its mission statement and its concept of an ideal graduate. The second curriculum is one that colleges think the NBCE has somehow imposed on them.
I would argue that it is accurate to say the college exhibits two such curricula. But I would add that this is to some extent necessary and appropriate. At the risk of appearing to be an apologist for the NBCE, as a person who has participated in several dozen meetings of the NBCE on several of its test committees, I can state unequivocally that the NBCE has no intention of dictating to the chiropractic colleges what they should teach. They are tasked with producing tests that reflect the knowledge, skills, and abilities their multiple constituencies deem most appropriate for the practice of chiropractic.
The NBCE does its best to delineate the skill set that college instructors, practicing doctors of chiropractic, and state boards find important and necessary for entry-level chiropractors to acquire. The colleges nominate instructors to sit on the committees that produce the tests and have other faculty members submit questions to the sitting committees for potential use on the tests. The NBCE Chiropractic Practice Analysis Survey, which is revised and repeated every few years, is linked to the Parts III & IV examinations, which in turn reflect the knowledge and skills required for safe entry-level practice. These multiple inputs try to balance the views of these several constituencies, both in and out of the colleges.
Of course these balanced and compromising views may enter into conflict with what any one college deems appropriate for entry-level practice--the concept of the ideal graduate of that particular college's program. After all, there are 17 chiropractic colleges in the United States alone, with 49 states and the District of Columbia utilizing Part IV test results for licensure. There are very significant differences among the colleges in...