Jagged little pill

Come, my pretties.

I must tell you a secret.

Several secrets, come to think of it.

Yeah, I know what you were told.  I know how they wined and dined you; I know how they put on a good face.  I know how they puffed up their feathers and said, “look how goddamn hot we look.”  I know all that because I was force-fed that pill, too, and I dutifully swallowed it just like the other 97 of my brethren that will walk the stage right along with me in three short months, and the 15-odd others who had the sense to cut their losses and leave sooner.  We all have smiles and shiny white teeth and dimples in our cheeks like we’re supposed to, but inside we know it’s a farce.  We’re well aware of the unspoken reality we share.

Allow me to clarify–our diplomas are real.  Our degrees are genuine.  We are (or will be) real doctors.  That’s not the issue; it has never been a question, nor will it ever be.  The issue comes down to what it all means and what we went through to get it.

But that’s a separate blog post (or ten).

Let me tell you the other half of the story, the half that completes it and makes it real.  What’s important isn’t so much what they’re telling you as it is what they’re not telling you.  And of the 60,000 licensed chiropractors out there, none of them really seem to want to talk about it.  Of all the informational websites out there (OK, there are just a few), none provide the whole picture.  So, if you’ll allow me…

First, I don’t care what you’ve been led to believe – they don’t give a flying blue fuck about you, your family, your commute, your body clock, your previous life, your sanity, your health, your time, your abilities, or even you as a person.  You are, and will always be, seen as nothing but a cross between a potential revenue source and a pain in the ass, just for being there.

Second, never rest on your laurels and get used to things as they currently are at any given time.  Count on change and come to expect it, because if there has ever been any single common theme at Parker from year to year, it’s that each and every class is a litter of guinea pigs.  As big a deal as they made of their 25th anniversary in existence, you’d think they’d have a few of the basics straightened out.

Well, they do.  They know how to 1) make a profit and 2) cover their ass in the process.

But as far as making things better or more efficient, perish the thought.  Yahoo cares more about enhancing your consumer experience than Parker does, and you don’t have to pay Yahoo $150k over the next three years.  You almost start to think that you’re stuck in some kind of wretched Groundhog Day nightmare, where Parker is simply reliving their first couple green, wet-behind-the-ears years over and over again.  Maybe it is their first rodeo after all.

Third, these changes that I speak of?  Are never for the better.  Typically it’s an alteration to some process that students never complained about because it actually made sense.  Or a knee-jerk reaction that remedies something they couldn’t help but to realize is bad, only to be replaced by a new, worse, more complicated solution.  Oh, they’ll sell it to the gullible as a win-win-win-win situation for everyone and all admin will be all smiles, but truth is that out of the deal, everything is done for the benefit of the profit machine that is the institution and the students–those footing the nearly-criminal bill, mind you–are completely left out of the conversation, a completely dismissed afterthought at very best.

Do the students ever benefit?  Sure, but only if the school does.  Absolutely nothing is purely student-centered, especially like it once was.  It’s not even professor-centered.  They claim that the public clinic is doctor-based, but that is only so that the kahunas on top can hold the staff doctors’ feet to the fire to produce more, more, more.  And they’ll have to, because long after each batch of students has left, the staff docs will still be there, trying to crank out numbers for the prez.  Who, incidentally, just bought a new Bentley.  Wonder if that was in addition to, or from trading in, that hot little 2-seater Mercedes.  I’ve given up keeping tabs.

So where do you fit in?  You are a captive audience.  Sure, before you sign on the dotted line, they roll out the red carpet and give you three-forks treatment (are they still ordering Jason’s Deli for the prospectives?  Or are they having our wretched cafe cater that, too, like they do all the other student events?  Oh, they didn’t tell you that either?  Shocking.)  Life is all roses and unicorns until–Bam! Day One of the first trimester.  The cold, hard reality comes as a steel-like shock as the fluffy clouds and cotton candy fade and disintegrate.  You are theirs for the wrangling, the abusing, the stressing out.

Don’t believe me, ask a 6th trimester student who has to cram for both the Clinic Entrance exam and Part 1 of the National Board exam.  Ask me how many pots of coffee they’ll brew in the next few days.  You are theirs for the sales pitches and advertisements – some subtle, some insultingly blatant.  Entire classes (Extra Spinal Adjusting Technique, Physio Therapy 2, and the elective Bio-Energetic Synchronization Technique class, just to name a few) are based solely on the products, services, protocols, and/or philosophy of one or more private companies who just so happen to have donated large sums of money to the school.

Does it benefit you?  I fail to see how; I honestly don’t know where the money goes, because despite every square inch going to the highest bidder, tuition keeps inching up.  Which just adds to the stress, of which there is never a shortage at Parker.  The institution seems to push people to the brink of both exhaustion and insanity.  No wonder we had a suicide last trimester.  Bet that never came up at the last prospective student open house now, did it?  You don’t have to answer; I already know.

Just as importantly, understand that everything is a secret at Parker.  If there’s an insane procedure you’ve never received decent training in, you’ll be expected to dust off your psychic powers.  If there is a rumor circulating, take heed.  Admin claims these rumors are “untrue” but in reality, the rumor was simply an unproven fact, and they’re simply trying to do damage control, covering their own asses while they attempt to identify, tar, and feather the soul who leaked the info too early or to the wrong people before admin was ready to spring it on the unsuspecting student body.  They know that if you find out early enough, you can plan and prepare, and thus they lose their edge.  You see, they keep an upper hand on things by keeping a lid on things, which means keeping you in the dark.

As you progress along the nonstop to nowhere, you will most likely fall into one of three groups.  Maybe you’ll become the rah-rah yes-man lap-dog cheerleading puppet who parrots everything you are told and supports the institution and all of its endeavors until your dying day.  Or maybe you’ll not necessarily approve but yet not necessarily disapprove of the school’s shenanigans, but hey it’s only three years of your life after which you’ll be out and you won’t care anyway.  Or perhaps you’ll become one of the “bitter ones”, a once-hopeful new puppy embittered from too many kicks in the face through the trimesters because despite your original optimism and your stubborn attempts to preserve it despite the abuse, it slowly dawns on you that you can no longer deny that it’s all about them and all about money and that in the process, you’ve been robbed of a (very expensive) lifetime opportunity and irretrievable years, forced to accumulate tallied numbers and cram useless facts via rote memorization about conditions you’ll never see in real life, meanwhile graduating with the heavy feeling that you’re grossly ill-prepared to actually help anyone.

We stood in the registration lines for the last time today.  As we were leaving, the innocent, unsuspecting, cheerful, optimistic, downright giddy hopefuls were dutifully lined up, completely unaware of the buttkicking they’re about to receive and the callousness with which it will be delivered.

Do you know how badly I wanted to shout out to them?  There’s a reason they keep the earlier trimesters carefully segregated from the upper echelon.  Christ, we can’t have the near-graduates intermingling with the new incoming students now, can we?  Admin would lose their advantageous handle.

Like I said, I know what they told you.  They should be hanged.  I’ve been there, done that, lived it, and I know better.  I also do not have a vested interest in any particular agenda either way, like, oh, you know, fattening up the school’s roster and thus boosting revenue.  I have nothing to lose or gain except my own conscience, which is only put to rest if I have spilled the (whole) truth to anyone who might stumble across this diatribe and take it to heart.  My pretties, do research your schools.

And yes, you do want to venture beyond the parroting rah-rah yes-man lap-dog cheerleading puppet that invariably is carefully hand-selected to conduct the tours putting on the Sunday-best face.  You know, the show(off)-and-tell strut-our-stuff peacock runway show meant to razzle and dazzle you all the way to the end of the green mile, at which lies the dotted line of the Master Promissary Note.  Because in the end, gang, that’s all it boils down to, and to them, that’s all you’ll ever be good for.

You can call me bitter if you want. Hell, it’s the truth.  You could even say I have an axe to grind.  Correction: I have several.  However, I started out much like yourselves, an innocent, impressionable, fresh-faced hopeful in the other registration line, incidentally separated from the very upper trimester students who would’ve been happy to save my ass given half the chance.  I got the whole peacock runway show and I was dazzled, too.

In reality, I’m more of a silver-lining person who would much rather given someone the benefit of the doubt, even if I have to squint and hallucinate to make it out.

However, when I’m spent, I’m spent.  If a solidly-established pattern of raw factual data repeatedly presents itself, then I have no choice but to alter my hypothesis to match the new empirical data.

If you’ve taken this seriously and chosen to look elsewhere for your education, great – I hope that I’ve helped you save some valuable time, energy, and lest we forget, money.

If you are locked into staunch opposition, that’s fine, too.  It’s your right to refuse to believe me; you’re entitled and I don’t hold any hard feelings.  I do have one request, though–to meet up again in three years.  Call yourself a guinea pig once again and call it yet one more experiment.

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