Guy F. Riekeman, D.C.

VitalisTIC Inclusion
Opening Minds, Arms, and Doors to ChiropracTIC

Guy Riekeman, the thought leader in modern Vitalism, will be the first to tell you he’s perfectly aware the word “Vitalism” doesn’t hit the top of the analytics charts in social media. He’ll also be the first to tell you that the few hits it does get tend to be from the same handful of people, none of whom seem very interested in having civil discourse around a philosophical perspective of health and flourishing. The larger picture, however, is one being painted by the increasing use of “Vitalistic” as a term to describe true healthcare practices (as opposed to those focused on disease management). More and more, chiropractors – and others – are distinguishing what they do to facilitate health and wellbeing as “Vitalistic.”

As Today’s Chiropractic Leadership honors the profession’s “Vitalistic Visionaries,” it can easily be said that Dr. Riekeman is foremost among them. After all, it was Dr. Riekeman and his brainchild, The Octagon (along with Dr. Gerry Clum), who originated the revival of the term “Vitalism” specifically to be an inclusive one, embracing not only philosophically well-grounded chiropractic, but also the many other professions with approaches that support and facilitate the expression of innate, adaptive health (as opposed to fighting symptoms and pathologizing natural processes).

Dr. Riekeman would also be the first to tell you he is aware he stands on the shoulders of giants of an earlier generation such as Drs. Galen Price, Virgil Strang, Joe Flesia, Sid Williams, and scores of others. Their vision for chiropractic was domination of the philosophic and neurological perspective, often to the exclusion of a less philosophic and largely biomechanical one – with both perspectives still holding the line for chiropractic as a hands-on art that eschews the use of drugs, radiation and surgery. These giants clearly understood the need for their perspective to serve as the critical counterbalance needed to keep the prevailing medical perspective in check.

However, as anyone who keeps abreast of the news will know, the chiropractic profession alone has not been adequate to prevent the decline of individual healthcare civil rights, including such troubling examples as laws criminalizing homebirth and what can only be termed “medical kidnappings” when parents seek to exert their authority in healthcare decisions for their own children. While it cannot be denied that some parents are unfit, it is equally undeniable that many children are being removed even when parents have legitimate – and often heartbreaking – reasons to disagree with and/or refuse forced medical treatment.

By supporting the understanding that thirty of Stevenson’s thirty-three principles are universal and apply generally to biology and the removal of interference to the expression of innate health*, Dr. Riekeman has gone further to describe those first thirty principles as “Modern Vitalism.” In doing so, Dr. Riekeman’s vision provides Chiropractic with allies among all healthcare professions focused on facilitating – rather than suppressing – innate health and optimal functionality, such as athletic trainers, kinesiologists, midwives, positive psychologists, health and life coaches, nutritionists, like-minded medical practitioners and others.

With these allies, working together under a Vitalistic banner, Chiropractic stands its best chance for creating the social disruption needed to change our healthcare paradigm from its current focus on pathology to a focus on salutogenesis. By casting Chiropractic as one of many Vitalistic professions, Dr. Riekeman is saying once and for all that chiropractic and its allies are not meant to replace medicine, but to balance it. In doing so, future chiropractic historians may well look back on Dr. Riekeman, not as one of the giants of the chiropractic profession, but as the titan of change needed to shift the therapeutic sciences of disease management into better balance with the facilitative arts of healthcare.




It by no means does justice to either the breadth or depth of Dr. Riekeman’s contributions to the chiropractic profession or his accomplishments but, to get a sense of his impact, here’s a sampling:



Life University                                                                                                                                     2004-Present


  • As President and Chief Executive Officer, led the institution through crisis (created by loss of accreditation in 2002) to stability and success
  • Implemented programs to increase new student enrollment by 200%
  • Raised $4.85 million to offset deficits
  • Successfully regained regional and specialized program accreditation
  • Recruited top management team from successful prestigious programs
  • Developed and implemented strategic plan, including reformulation of institutional vision and mission
  • Initiated largest capital campaign in history of institution
  • Created positive relationships with community on local and state levels
  • Expanded range of programmatic offerings
  • Introduced values based education


Palmer Chiropractic University System                                                                                          1998-2004

President and Chancellor

  • Served as Chief Executive Officer of three-branch system (Iowa; California; Florida)
  • Increased enrollment 25% for Iowa campus
  • Spearheaded the design, development and construction of new Florida campus
  • Maintained superlative budget controls to generate largest surpluses in the history of the institution
  • Introduced new curriculum incorporating active learning processes
  • Increased fund-raising participation by 50%
  • Initiated successful capital campaign
  • Recruited management team of national reputation
  • Introduced high performance management models


Director of the Palmer Institute for Professional Advancement                                            1997-1998

  • Managed post graduate division
  • Increased attendance and revenue
  • Increased homecoming attendance and vendor revenue


 Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic                                                                                       1975-1976

Vice President for Development

  • Oversaw development program at new chiropractic college



PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS                                                        1977-1997

  • Headed Chiropractic Centennial Foundation Media Committee; produced CCF promotional video, documentary and audio library – 1993-1995
  • Created management program for wellness practices titled “The Workshops” – 1990
  • Produced several audiotape series including “Make your Life Extraordinary” and “Ten Strategies,” a patient education series – 1989-1990
  • Founder and chief executive officer of Quest post-graduate seminar program for professional and personal growth – 1987
  • Wrote and published a series of educational products including a prospective patient video; chiropractic educational programs for children; a chiropractic cartoon with Lionel Ritchie; 13 commercials and public service announcements for national media use; and a chiropractic pilot program for television – 1986-1987
  • Cofounder of Chiropractic Basic Science Research Foundation – 1985
  • Produced a series of top-selling chiropractic videos featuring celebrity spokespeople – 1983
  • Cofounder and partner of Renaissance International, a chiropractic professional development program – 1977
  • Wrote a series of articles on the application of research to chiropractic – 1977-1984
  • Conducted 20 world tours speaking on chiropractic research, patient education and professional and personal development – 1978-1994



  • Palmer College of Chiropractic, Davenport, IA

Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) 1972

  • Graduated with Honors
  • Received Clinical Excellence Award


  • University of California, Los Angeles (Extension)

Cinema and Television Arts



  • Fellow, Palmer College of Chiropractic West – 2001
  • Doctor of Humanities Degree, Palmer College – 1997



*See “Contemporary Chiropractic Philosophy, an Introduction” by David B. Koch, D.C.


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