Dr. David Brady, a 1991 Texas Chiropractic College (TCC) graduate, is the first DC worldwide to break the "glass ceiling" within academia by being conferred vice provost of the health science division at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut. He is the first and only chiropractor to attain that elevated status worldwide in a major university and, because of his extensive training in chiropractic, nutrition and naturopathic medicine, is now in a position to influence the educational direction of scores of minds, young and old, for years to come.
Chiropractors have broken into the politics, forensics, law enforcement, finance and academia, to name a few, and every time an individual chiropractor rises in the ranks of a specific field, it clears the path for others to follow. It also offers our profession a multitude of new opportunities to educate the public about chiropractic and, in the case with Dr. Brady, to create collaborative programs with various healthcare professionals offering greater avenues for access to chiropractic care.
The American Chiropractor salutes the great accomplishment of Dr. David Brady.
Interview with Dr. David M. Brady, Vice Provost for Health Sciences at the University of Bridgeport
TAC: Dr. Brady, can you tell us what your title is at the University of Bridgeport (UB)?
Brady: Well, it is quite a mouthful, but I am currently the Vice Provost for the Health Sciences Division, the Director of the Human Nutrition Institute, and an Associate Professor of Clinical Science.
TAC: What exactly is a Vice Provost?
Brady: Thanks for asking, as people outside of academia are often confused by what the word Provost actually means. Many are familiar with a university President, but not a Provost. While a university President leads the entire institution, including overseeing the fiscal operations, community relations, and overall governance, it is the Provost that really oversees and leads the academic operations of most universities. For example, Deans of colleges within a university generally report to a Provost. At UB, as in many other universities, we are broken up into divisions related to fields of study, including our Health Sciences Division. As the Vice Provost for Health Sciences, I oversee the colleges and schools related to the health sciences and I guess you can say that I am positioned between the Deans of those programs, including Dean Frank Zolli of our College of Chiropractic, and the university Provost.
TAC: So what exactly do you do as Vice Provost of the Health Sciences at UB?
Brady: The position of Vice Provost for the Health Sciences is essentially the coordinating administrator for the College of Chiropractic, College of Naturopathic Medicine, Fones School of Dental Hygiene, Nutrition Institute, Acupuncture Institute, Physician Assistant Institute and any academic programs added subsequently to the Division of Health Sciences. I also oversee the operations of the UB Clinics, our public clinic system located within our Health Sciences Center. A big part of my job is to facilitate communication among the programs and to enhance efficiency in addressing and advocating for our needs in the Division of Health Sciences to the University as a whole, and to the President and Provost. This involves a lot of different issues, including developing new academic programs, interfacing with hospitals and medical centers where we send students and interns, developing collaborative relationships with other academic institutions, advocating for and planning facilities improvements, working with program Deans in improving academic quality and assessment, and assuring compliance with accreditation standards, and overseeing the community outreach, marketing and quality assurance for our public clinic system.
Keeping with the mission of the UB Division of Health Sciences, we now have the only PA program in the world that has an integrative medicine theme running through the entire curriculum
TAC: Can you give us some examples of some initiatives and projects at UB that would likely not have happened before you were appointed Vice Provost of Health Sciences three years ago to provide coordination amongst the programs within the division?
Brady: Well, one of the main tasks I had when taking on this role was to break down the former silo-mentality that tends to take root in an institutional setting with many different individual programs. Here, we had all of these really great programs in far ranging health-related fields but, for the most part, each of these colleges or schools was doing its own thing and trying to advocate for just its own needs within a complicated university structure and system. Once we started working much more collaboratively with a plan that harvested the inherent synergies between us and pooled our efforts and leverage within the university system, we were able to achieve many things not previously possible. These included obtaining from the University significant investments in facilities upgrades, including the updating of classrooms and teaching technology, general facelifts for buildings, and significant investment in a brand new state-of-the-art anatomy dissection lab being built this summer. We have also been able to introduce a new sophisticated clinical information system (CIS) into our UB Clinics that brings with it full electronic medical records, scheduling, billing, and clinical data mining capability for conducting interdisciplinary research. With this tool, we can seek research grants and funding to perform much needed complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) research that compares different approaches, such as chiropractic, acupuncture and naturopathic medical interventions for a host of disorders and conditions seen in our clinic system. We were also able to develop new academic programs, such as our Physician Assistant program, which required reaching out to the medical community in our region and establishing relationships at almost all of the medical centers and hospitals in Connecticut. Keeping with the mission of the UB Division of Health Sciences, we now have the only PA program in the world that has an integrative medicine theme running through the entire curriculum, which will result in primary care providers who are not only extremely competent in their discipline, but also have an understanding of various complementary approaches, including chiropractic, naturopathic medicine, nutrition and acupuncture, which they can ultimately discuss with their patients as treatment choices. We have also developed new undergraduate programs in the health sciences, including a collaboration with the University of Connecticut (UConn) on pharmacy education, a medical laboratory sciences program, and we are also developing a new Masters in Public Health and a Doctorate in Health Sciences that are minimum residency programs, allowing students and health professionals from around the country and world to experience what is happening here at UB. It also allows our students to cross-train and to participate in dual programs, leaving UB with multiple degrees and career opportunities.
TAC: Wow, all of that sounds wonderful. How do you have enough time in the day?
Brady: It is sometimes not easy, but it is a labor of love, as I have gotten to see the strides we have made and what we have become over my 14 years here at UB. I also just love to see positive changes for the students that study here. We have really moved this division forward by virtue of our collaborations. One example is how we were able to open up new clinical experiences for our chiropractic and naturopathic medicine students in the form of hospital-based rotations, which were made possible by the relationships that were formed during the development of the Physician Assistant program with St. Vincent’s Hospital in Bridgeport.
TAC: How does being Vice Provost at a comprehensive university and a chiropractor at the same time help the UBCC program?
Brady: I think that my training as a DC helps me to better understand the needs of the College of Chiropractic as we devise strategies for the continued development of the Division of Health Sciences. It should be noted that I came from the ranks of the UBCC faculty and worked in that capacity for almost 10 years. My chiropractic background also helps me to articulate what chiropractic is all about to many different decision makers within and outside the University, as well.
TAC: How is the exposure to chiropractic to UB students from all around the world affect the future of global health care?
Brady: It definitely helps increase the awareness of chiropractic globally. Through collaboration with UB, we have seen international programs in chiropractic developed by our UBCC graduates, such as the chiropractic program at Hanseo University in Korea. We also have UBCC faculty members involved in helping chiropractic programs flourish in Spain. As more people are exposed to chiropractic from around the world, it helps raise the profile of awareness of chiropractic internationally. That is a good thing.
TAC: Do you know of any other person trained as a doctor of chiropractic that is in a position such as you? That is, overseeing an entire division of health sciences representing a multitude of health care disciplines, at a full spectrum university such as UB with programs as diverse as engineering, education, music, business, design, etc?
Brady: To my knowledge, I am the first and, at present, only. However, I believe my training in multiple disciplines, and not only chiropractic, has allowed me to prepare for this responsibility and to do a better job as a result.
TAC: Tell us a little more about your training across these various disciplines?
Brady: Well, believe it or not, my undergraduate training was in electronics engineering technology and I worked for the computer division of the aerospace company McDonnell Douglas. I worked with computer aided design systems, including those used in the biomedical design and production of total joint replacement technologies. This brought me into contact with orthopedic surgeons and biomedical engineers at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and sparked my interest in applying my engineering knowledge to the human body. This eventually led me into chiropractic, as the biomechanical education in chiropractic training is substantial. I trained at Texas Chiropractic College in the Houston area, graduating as Valedictorian in 1991. During my time at TCC, I was able to participate in a multitude of hospital rotations in the colossal Houston Medical Center. This allowed me to learn a lot about not only chiropractic, but also allopathic medicine, from many different specialists' perspective. I learned how to work and talk with medical doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and hospital administrators and experienced a model of collaboration and cross training that I believe helped me in creating some of what we have accomplished at UB. During these experiences, I always felt that I was able to bring a positive message about chiropractic and what it has to offer in the health care system to other medical professionals and decision makers. I was also very lucky to train at TCC, which was the only chiropractic program offering such a hospital experience at that time, and where I also picked up a passion and appreciation for the power of therapeutic nutritional, which then became my new area of interest. I subsequently went on to my nutritional training and became a diplomate and nationally board certified in nutrition. Ultimately, I went on the complete my academic and clinical training in naturopathic medicine at the University of Bridgeport.
TAC: Is that why you came to UB, to train as an ND?
Brady: I was practicing and teaching in the Houston area for about seven years after completing my chiropractic internship and diplomate programs in internal disorders and nutrition. I was then recruited to join the faculty in the College of Chiropractic at UB. I was brought in because of my training in internal diagnosis, laboratory medicine, and nutrition and quickly found myself also teaching classes for the students in the College of Naturopathic Medicine at UB. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to complete my training as an ND, as well. It took me quite a while, as I was completing this rigorous program while still teaching and practicing.
I practice one full day a week and feel that it is really necessary to keep me connected to patient care.
TAC: Do you still practice?
Brady: I do. I have been in continuous clinical practice since 1991. I have practiced for the past 8 years or so as a licensed naturopathic physician here in Connecticut within an integrative internal medicine group that has MDs, NDs, DCs, nutritionists, and various therapists and counselors. I focus on chronic disease management using the functional medicine model, which includes the integration of nutrition and nutraceutical intervention, diet therapy, herbal medicine, physical medicine, lifestyle modification, and pharmaceutical therapy when necessary. I practice one full day a week and feel that it is really necessary to keep me connected to patient care and the issues that our students at UB will face upon graduation. I also do consulting work in the nutraceutical and nutritional supplement industry, as well as for medical laboratories, and travel quite a bit, presenting on functional medicine and nutrition around the US and internationally at various scientific symposiums and conferences.
TAC: Oh, is that all?
Brady: I forgot to mention that I also have two little guys as home: Ian, who is 5, and Owen, who is 3 and a half. You could say that they keep me quite busy as well.
TAC: In closing, do you see yourself staying at UB and what do you see UB becoming in the future?
Brady: Oh, I see myself staying at UB if they will have me. I want to see this through. It is really simple. We want UB to continue to develop into the academic center of excellence for integrative health care in the US and to provide opportunities for students to come and study in a place where there exists a pallet of health care professions and approaches to choose from where collaboration, appreciation and respect exists amongst these professions. We are all about health care choices for patients, as is evident by the approximately 20,000 patient visits that take place in the UB Clinics annually across a multitude of disciplines and approaches. In order to provide those choices to patients, we need to continue to train qualified, competent, and compassionate professionals in all of these fields. This is a commitment shared by President Neil Salonen and Provost Hans van der Giessen, as well as the entire University of Bridgeport and, without this vision and commitment to health sciences, what we have done so far would not have been possible. We also know it is working, since we have alumni doing incredible work all over the world treating patients as private clinicians, as well as former graduates in very important positions within prestigious institutions, including the medical schools and hospitals of Yale, Johns Hopkins, NYU, and Vanderbilt to name a few.
TAC: Thank you, Dr. Brady.
Brady: Thank you, for the opportunity to let the chiropractic profession know a bit more about the work we are doing here, which has had a profound positive effect on chiropractic. At UB, we have witnessed that, the more we integrate complementary healthcare disciplines in our clinics, hospitals and educational processes, the more patients have gained access to chiropractic care.