I had a professors at the University at Buffalo named Dr. Dennis Lesniak. He taught a 300 level course about common sports injuries and did a great job integrating anatomy, physiology, movement, and dysfunction. After finding out he also owned a CrossFit gym, I said to myself, “I’m going to make him my new best friend.” At my very first visit to his gym and practice, I was in awe of how quickly and effectively he recommended stretches or exercises for every single complaint his members brought to him. Within minutes I watched a 70 year old woman drop below parallel in her squat. I saw a high school wrestler make a 15 pound snatch PR. I convinced myself this was witchcraft and I had to walk across a bed of hot coals and train with the Many-Faced God to get these powers. After a 4 month internship, I didn’t care what it cost or how long it took, I wanted to be able to help CrossFit athletes and weekend warriors the way Dr. Lesniak did. That’s when I decided I was going to be a Chiropractor.
Don’t let this cute origin story fool you, I did my research. I had originally wanted to be a physical therapist after obsessively watching KStarr’s MWOD for months, but after looking into the curriculum, I felt that New York Chiropractic College had what I was looking for. Fast forward a few years, I’m a 10th trimester student about to graduate with my D.C. degree. The grind of clinic hasn’t given me much time to work with too many physical therapists and I’m guessing you haven’t worked with many chiropractors. Let me tell you a little about what we learned in our school and you can tell me in the comment section what you learned in yours!
The Chiro School Experience –
New York Chiropractic College states, “The Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree requires a minimum of ten 15-week semesters of full-time resident study, including a clinical internship. This is the equivalent of five academic years.” One of the reasons I chose NYCC is because we schedule our semesters as trimesters meaning we have classes through the summer and can finish our education in three years and four months. The academic schedule is rigorous with between 22 and 28 credit hours a semester.
The first year focuses on core sciences such as gross anatomy with human cadaver dissection, biochemistry, neurology, microbiology, and physiopathology. We learn clinical pearl along the way and have collective “Ohhhhh” moments, like how your gallbladder can cause right shoulder pain, at least once a week. We learned mnemonics for the cranial nerves and filled notebooks with doodles of the brachial plexus. Our physiology professor had us remember when oxytocin was released by the phrase, “Wine, dine, 69, and go cry about it.” It was like drinking from a firehose but the fundamentals were drilled in.
The second year focuses on assessment and diagnosis. Classes include full body orthopedic assessment, visceral assessment, laboratory diagnostics, advanced imaging, and public health concerns. This year also heavily focuses on various chiropractic techniques such as chiropractic manipulative therapy, rehabilitative exercises, and passive modalities like heat, cold, interferential current, and cold laser therapy. We started putting together the pieces and practiced case management for typical complaints that might walk in our door. We learned new patient exams and started to feel pretty confident that we could recognize who we could treat and who needed to be referred out.
The third year is our clinical internship. These internships are done in various outpatient facilities across the country. Under close, one-on-one doctor supervision, we perfect our skills, practice case management, and learn to integrate our services within an array of diverse healthcare environments. I’ve had some crazy cases and made some mistakes but the only dumb mistake is one you don’t learn from, right?
Throughout our time at school, there are a variety of electives offered including pediatrics, pregnancy, geriatrics, rehab, nutrition, radiology, and more. Many of these fields have a post-doctoral residency or diplomate program that chiropractors can specialize in too but it not mandatory.
That brings us to a grand total of:
Now I’m about to graduate, but I need your help. No man is an island. The best doctors in the world are not all in one profession. Go out and ask other providers how they would treat your patients. What questions would they ask? What exams would they do? How does your treatment vary from mine? I know you can help me learn more about upper extremity complaints to treat musicians (my other passion project). I fully intend to work with physical therapists often because I know you learned way more straps and braces for upper extremity complaints than I did. Now it’s your turn. Go find the neurologist who found a rare entrapment site. Go find the EENT who is experimenting with vertigo treatments. Keep an open mind and always go to the source.
“Absorb what is useful. Discard what is not. Add what is uniquely your own.” ~ Bruce Lee
Bio: Randy Thompson will be graduating from New York Chiropractic College in July of 2016. He is engaged to the beautiful Abigale Marchese, has a cat named Paul, and is looking forward to you reading more about chiropractic at www.RandyThompsonDC.com.