There certainly has been a lot in the news and on social media lately regarding the “great vaccination debate”. Everyone has an opinion on whether vaccines are the best or the worst thing to happen to medicine since the invention of the blanket warmer (my personal favourite). I have an opinion about vaccinations, too. However, I am definitely not going to use this forum to disclose my position of this subject. Why? Well first off, I am not by any stretch of the imagination an expert on vaccinations. Secondly, I write this blog as part of my role as an employee of a health regulatory body. And finally – even without those first two things – I am a regulated healthcare professional.
Several weeks ago, there was an article in the National Post about three Chiropractors who made public, online “anti-vaccination” statements. The reason this was particularly noteworthy was that these three individuals also sit on the Council for the College of Chiropractors of Ontario (CCO). Granted, had these healthcare professionals publicly posted their opinions about something less controversial – and perhaps something that had been definitively determined by the scientific literature – then it is very unlikely that it would have been a news story. However, when questioned, two of these Chiropractors stated that they felt “their personal opinions were separate from their duties to the CCO”[i]. I think we need to explore that statement just a bit.
I find it surprising that, in this day and age, anyone truly believe that we can keep our professional and private lives separate on open, public forums. If I used this blog to state my opinion on vaccinations, obviously it would be viewed as the position of the CRTO. But how is it any different if I was to make the same declaration using my personal Facebook account? Virtually all my Facebook friends know I am a Respiratory Therapist, and most know where I work. Like it or not, personal opinions on healthcare related issues– when expressed publicly by a healthcare professional – easily become a professional opinion.
The situation that those three Chiropractors found themselves in serves as an important reminder for all us to be careful about the statements we make publicly. Unless it’s about blanket warmers, which I will declare right here and now to be the best medical invention of all time!
[i] National Post. (March 15, 2019). Three senior members of the council that regulates Ontario chiropractors have made anti-vaccination statements. Retrieved from https://nationalpost.com/news/college-of-chiropractors-of-ontario-anti-vaccine