Rubicon’s Clan Chiropractic

Although it has truly taken a village to raise the Scotland College of Chiropractic into reality, the person most responsible is Ross McDonald, D.C. His contribution as a member of today’s ChirorpracTIC leadership to be reckoned with first came in 2009/10 in response to the challenges faced from chiropractic detractors, particularly in the UK and Europe where he is based. According to McDonald, these challenges “included professional misconduct charges being brought by the regulatory board against around 25-30% of the profession in the UK due to complaints over advertising.” Interestingly, McDonald’s remarks on this dark time were brought about by a question concerning a time his profession had performed exceptionally well. The light is always brightest in the darkness, something McDonald illustrated when he went on to say:

 “At that time, three chiropractic associations, my own, the Scottish Chiropractic Association, the United Chiropractic Association and the McTimoney Chiropractic Association formed the Alliance of UK Chiropractors to work to defend the principles and practices of Vitalistic chiropractic in the UK and challenge the regulatory board who wished to outlaw the use of our own lexicon such as the term subluxation. The associations involved realized that any gross conflict or interference between them had to be removed so that they could work better together for the greater good of the profession.”


When asked what made him proud about this time, McDonald shared, “I Chaired a group of incredible people and we put together a position statement document which I used as the basis to challenge the regulatory board. The upshot was that the board reversed their decision 3 months after the original one was made.” McDonald went onto say that he was even more proud and pleased of the associations’ work together because “principled chiropractic was not having many ‘wins’ at that time in regards legal positions and practice status around the globe. I was proud that I was able to lead a positive change that would ripple around the world.”

To longtime observers of the profession and its seemingly ceaseless internecine squabbling, such collegial behavior – and decisive victory in the face of persecution – is not only refreshing but, as is becoming increasingly clear, essential for Chiropractic to take its rightful place in the health care industry. Without a shared understanding and practice of the most basic tenets, approaches and terminology, chiropractic will cease to exist as a separate, distinct and uniquely effective approach to health care, in cooperation with the disease intervention endemic to the medical/mechanistic model of care. And, to continue our Vitalistic birth metaphor, if McDonald has served to bring the Scotland School of Chiropractic into the world, The Rubicon Group has serves as his doula.

It’s apparent that McDonald has a great love for his profession and its potential when he says, “There is an energy at play when chiropractic is working at its best which is quite indescribable…. We feel it in the practice when parents bring their newborns in to be checked or when an elderly patient walks without their walking stick…or as a group of chiropractors at a conference when the power is on!” This feeling that both Chiropractic practitioners and their patients often share may be akin to what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi described as “flow.” McDonald elaborated, saying: “We experience this daily in our practice and every time we connect with some of the amazing friends we have made through chiropractic.”

Some chiropractors have speculated that the push against principled, subluxation-focused chiropractic comes from practitioners who have never had the opportunity to sufficiently master the art of chiropractic. The general feeling among this group of chiropractors is that, once you learn to correct spinal subluxation and see the often amazing improvements patients experience – and become the beneficiary of their sometimes overwhelming gratitude – it’s hard to believe any chiropractor would practice any other way.

But, let’s hear from McDonald in his own voice, which certainly reflected a similar sentiment when we asked:

TCL: What do you most value about being a chiropractor?

McDonald: Personally, I value the impact that chiropractic has on my and my family’s wellbeing. Being a chiropractor allows me to provide our family – and our patients’ families – with information, leadership and an effective way to help improve their general health and wellbeing, positively impacting their lives and helping them create a brighter future for themselves free from nerve interference. Understanding that there is a path to true health, without the use of unnecessary drugs, and that there are many contributing factors to true health which are under our own control, allows us as chiropractors to have real impact when we work with our patients to help change the direction of their physical, chemical and mental/emotional health.

It is exciting to think that chiropractors are ideally placed to be part of the huge shift happening in healthcare thinking at the moment and that we can be creators of change in our communities, and indeed our nations.

TCL: What will the profession look like in Scotland and the UK twenty years from now if you, the Board of Trustees (and The Rubicon Group) are as successful as you envision in creating a truly chiropractic/Vitalistic chiropractic program.

McDonald: Starting the Scotland College of Chiropractic (SCC) with the principles and practices of Vitalistic chiropractic at its core, will create a huge shift in the energy in the profession over the next twenty years. I heard once that a great educational experience is about personal transformation and growth. It is our aim to create shifts in our students so that they graduate with a healthy appreciation of our traditional philosophy, an understanding and knowledge of our science and a respect for the specificity of the adjustment and the power of the body to heal without interference.

Apart from being a focus for chiropractic learning in Scotland (and indeed the UK), we will start to create healthcare leaders who will graduate with the necessary outstanding leadership skills to help create a new healthcare paradigm for our nation with chiropractic at its core. Europe is an amazing melting pot of cultures and peoples with wonderful chiropractors practising all across the continent. Although there are not as many DCs in Europe as elsewhere in the world, what happens here can have rippling effects all across the chiropractic globe. Our school will help ensure that our profession stays true to the traditional practices of chiropractic while embracing contemporary healthcare concepts and science without diluting our professional impact by compromising our principles.

TCL: If you are not successful, what will the profession look like in Scotland and the UK – and beyond?

McDonald: There is an opportunity worldwide for chiropractic to start to have greater impact on the healthcare of our nations. For a small profession, we need more like-minded colleagues to help both serve our public as well as create the agenda of change. Without a steady stream of outstanding graduates, and indeed a seat of learning in the country, the chances of us being agents of change nationwide will diminish.

TCL: Who (or what) can best support your efforts?

At present, we require funds and we have started our fundraising drive for the new school Trust. The Trust has Charitable Status in Scotland (The Scotland College of Chiropractic Charitable Trust) and this enables tax free donations to be given. In the US, donations can also be made through the CAF America website (just mention the name of the Trust on and one is also able to donate online by clicking here. Without funds, the project will not happen anytime soon! The fundraising effort was launched at the recent Edinburgh Lectures conference and the response from the profession in the UK and Europe since has been amazing donating greatly to the cause! We still need more funds though! If it fits with your vision and mission to grow Vitalistic chiropractic worldwide, then please get in touch to donate.

Of course, we will require lecturers, experts in their field of chiropractic to inspire, educate and empower our students…and of course we will require students themselves! This programme will be by the profession, for the profession and we are hoping to open in September 2018. We have an outstanding Board of Trustees who will bring this project to fruition.



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