For my entire life, I was always fascinated by the human body. I remember going to the library every Sunday with my mom and I would check out any book that got my attention. Nothing grabbed my attention more than books about our very own bodies (well, maybe Calvin and Hobbes but that’s a different story). I took that fascination and curiosity through college when I was trying to decide what to choose as a career path. I had spent the previous years planning on going to med school to become a dermatologist, but after talking to a few med students and seeing their quality of life being less than what I expected, I decided to explore an alternate career path. I knew that I wanted my future career to allow me the freedom to enjoy my life and spent time with my family when I eventually got married and had kids. I just didn’t see conventional medicine allowing that.
I discovered chiropractic after being in a car accident and my father signed up the whole family to see his own chiropractor. It interested me because it was a different way of looking at the body and how it heals after an injury. I also found it refreshing that the same philosophy didn’t push the use of medication or surgery right away. I gained more understanding when I was an intern for a chiropractor in my last year of college and I was sold on it. I started chiropractic school a few months after graduating from college and decided to focus on sports injuries and people who enjoy an active lifestyle. I’ve been fortunate to work at several major sporting events like the Ironman Championship race in Kona, Hawaii. After being in private practice for a few years, I decided to join CHS Health Services (now Premise Health) at Google to be part of their onsite chiropractic team in Mountain View. I’m working with other healthcare providers who share the same passion and goals for people seeking our help. I still have my private practice, but I’ve scaled it back to part-time status so I can continue to take care of my regulars and the occasional new patient.
My advice to someone who is interested in the chiropractic field is to trust in their passion for health and understand that chiropractic is a way to help someone achieve a great quality of life. It’s not voodoo or pseudoscience when they understand why their neck or back pain is tied with poor posture and body mechanics. The body is complicated and amazing with so many moving parts and everything is connected. Everything. For example, someone with chronic forearm pain likely has muscle imbalances in their neck and shoulder areas. Working on the muscle imbalance can help with the forearm trouble in the long term along with proper ergonomics at work and at home. If you have problems in one area of your body, it’s only a matter of time before trouble migrates to another part. They don’t always present symptoms, so you can’t solely rely on pain to determine if there’s something wrong or not. I see this all the time and they are things a chiropractor can find and help you with before you suffer an injury. You would never let your car go without periodic checks to make sure everything’s running smoothly, right? Have you ever had your car break down and hear the mechanic tell you it was due to failed maintenance on a part or two? Why would your own body be any different? Unlike your car, you can’t replace body parts so people should take care of what they have. When you understand how the joints, muscles and nerves work together, it’s not a mystery why the chiropractic care is so effective and safe. There are some risks to chiropractic care, but the benefits far outweigh the risks and there is new research coming out all the time. Properly educate yourself so you can educate others.
I would also advise a prospective student to have hobbies and maintain them during their chiropractic education. There’s no way you can function as a human being with all work and no play. For me, I’ve been performing in musical theater productions in my area. It’s a fun and creative way of releasing stress, meeting new people (not to mention for networking purposes!), and building connections that will last a lifetime. Start a hiking group, do a dance class or find a fun activity that allows you to forget about school or work for a few hours. Your brain will thank you for it. I promise.
Never underestimate the importance of proper rest and hydration. Never!
A huge part of chiropractic is also educating patients and giving them the tools they can use to take care of themselves when they’re not in your office. A lot of the success involving chiropractic is in the patient’s ability to take care of themselves and recognize when they need assistance. It is educating them about proper posture when working at their computer and that it’s ok to take breaks, stretch and move around.
Whatever career you choose, never stop learning and don’t let someone convince you that what you do doesn’t matter because you DO matter and you can make a difference in someone’s life. Good luck and get out there!