The Event that Changed My Life (and Brought Me
I was taking a step back and looking at my life the other day.
How did I get to this point in my life? Why do I believe certain
things? Why do I behave certain ways? I started daydreaming about
events that have had major influences on my life. Then I thought
about how I got to be here at NUHS studying chiropractic medicine.
The story is more fate-like than conscious choice.
When we were younger, we all had dreams and ideas of what we
wanted to be when we grew up. After my dreams of becoming a
superhero were gone, my ambitions changed to becoming a pro athlete
when I got into high school. Then reality hit as my soaking wet,
5', 103 lb. frame made the varsity hockey team. I probably wasn't
big enough to be a pro athlete. So, I did the next best thing, and
considered becoming a country club pro so I could play golf all day
(haha). What I didn't realize is they probably play the LEAST
amount of golf. I worked at 5 different courses when I was younger;
it was true. I wondered what I would do with the rest of my
The pic is of my junior year in high school, about
the same time
I got into chiropractic. Look how young I look!
Then, as if from a strange chance, during a hockey game junior
year in high school I checked this 6'4" kid in a hockey game
breaking out of the zone and just destroyed my back into the
boards. I usually loved hitting the biggest kid on the other team;
this time, it was a bad idea. I tried to bounce right up. My back
was not having it. Sharp, radiating pain in my right SI joint (I
didn't know what that was at the time lol) kept me down. A few
choice words not printable on this blog came out of my mouth as I
realized I probably just ended my season. I HATE being hurt. HATE
After the game, I got the medical workup and physical therapy
was prescribed. I've been through PT before with a shoulder injury
freshman year and I religiously did my rehab with rest, painkillers
and ice. Weeks into the treatment I just wasn't getting better. I
still walked with a limp, let alone put enough pressure to skate
off that leg. Here's where I believe my life path started changing.
Out of nowhere, my mom suggested I go to her chiropractor. I agreed
and the next day I had an office visit. I got EMS, adjustments and
a little soft tissue. Three treatments later that week along with
the chiro's recommendation to continue my PT exercises, I felt
ready for the ice again. My coach was rather shocked that I had
gone from probably a 6-8 week injury to a 3-week injury so quickly.
I was just ecstatic that I could play again and could finally sit
through class all day without pain.
After that event, I began increasing my relationship with Dr.
Jen Belesi as well as increasing my interest in natural therapies
and chiropractic medicine. Senior year we were allowed to get an
internship instead of going to school the last 2 months. I chose to
get an internship with a chiropractor that my aunt went to a few
towns over. Everything had been set up for a few weeks and the day
before I was supposed to start the doc called me and cancelled my
Internship. I was SHOCKED and CRUSHED. A million things were going
through my mind, and I thought I was going to have to go to school
and be let down by this missed opportunity I had been looking
forward to so much.
Chiropractic could have easily slipped by me at this time.
That's about the same time my mom gave it to me straight (as
parents have a knack for doing). She said, "Well, you can either
give in and go back to school, or you can call Dr. Jen (the chiro
who treated me for hockey) and see if there's something last minute
you can conjure up. The worst thing is she says no and you're still
in the same boat. BUT you never know without asking. I would call
if I were you, but it's your choice."
I was pretty afraid of the phone at that age in my life and
didn't feel comfortable asking adults for things. For some reason,
I picked up the phone, shaking on the inside, rang Dr. Jen, and
explained the situation. Her remarks, when I think about it now,
are probably the reason I'm writing this blog post at NUHS today,
"Sure, Christian, I'd love to have you intern! I'll drop off the
office keys tonight and see you at 8am in the office!"
Wow. Just wow.
She decided to hire me on for the next couple summers when I
came back from college. National, her alma mater, combined with her
exceptional clinical skills were the reasons for me only applying
here, and why I'm at NUHS studying chiropractic hoping that one day
I'll be able to influence someone's life in the same unbelievably
positive way Dr. Jen Belesi did for me. With that, I am grateful to
As I reflect on these events, I encourage you to take life as it
comes. Don't take yourself too seriously, don't except the status
quo, ask for what you want, and be willing to look for the silver
lining even in the most unfortunate circumstances. You never know
when the next event will be the event that changes your life
If I didn't get hurt in a freak hockey check...
If the chiro I went to wasn't a good clinician…
If I didn't get turned down for my internship with another
If I didn't get brave and call Dr. Jen...
If she didn't say YES, or even have the ability to say
I wouldn't be here writing this today. So, do you believe in
fate? I do.
Take home exercise: Take 10 minutes and think about the events
that got you to where you are in life right now. Be thankful. What
are the 2-3 biggest things you can do to change your life in a
meaningful way tomorrow. Take action and don't accept
My Homemade Criteria for Owning Your Own
Hey Cygnets (we seriously need a better school name),
I was contacted over break by a prospective student about what
to expect upon graduation with regards to practice or jobs. I have
contacted a few of my older friends in practice who are a couple
semesters out of school and I'll have some interview-based blogs as
they get back to me over the coming weeks with some good
information for prospective and current students. With that said,
I'll break down my understanding of some different options
I'd like to start with this: Chiropractic is a WIDE OPEN field.
It's as unique as its doctors and you can do whatever you like with
it if you hustle and want it enough. For instance, there are
chiropractors on cruise lines, in hospitals, working in
residencies, sports teams, etc., etc. I don't have enough space (or
time or will power) to break down all the different paths one can
take post-grad. I will focus my energies on the BIGGEST QUESTION of
any chiropractic student.
Do I start my own practice or work for someone else?
That's the million-dollar question. Answering it comes down to a
couple factors in my brief experience through looking at other
1. Let's call a spade a spade here: some people are NOT meant to
own their own practice. It's just not in their mindset to be
responsible for running the practice, treating patients, marketing,
and everything else that comes along with being a BUSINESS OWNER.
Some docs will tell you, "I just worry about treating patients. I
don't care about business." Well in the real world, you could be
the best doctor in the world and if you can't get any patients in
your door or pay your bills on time (+student loans) then you're
going to chapter 7 (bankruptcy).
I try not to sugar coat anything because I respected my Dad for
telling me how it was when I was younger so I wasn't wet behind the
ears when the real world stuff started up. Don't fret too much,
however. We get some business classes here; there are all sorts of
practice management companies out there to help you; you can always
shadow lots of doctors and they'll be happy to show you how the
office management stuff runs. Point is: If you're a competent
physician, you're not socially awkward, and you have even the
tiniest bit of passion to own your own office, it's more than
My brother and I playing roller hockey--old mighty ducks
Side note on bias: I am opening my own practice upon graduation
(unless I get an absurd offer from a sports team or top doctor in
an unique area I want to live in for a year or two). I have worked
in a chiro office for 4 years and I have a business degree from
undergrad. I like doing things my way without having to take orders
or be held back from others, so I didn't even have a question in my
mind that I was choosing to start my own practice. Sorry for the
strong bias. With that said, I've been preparing. I'm not just
letting life come; I'm grabbing hold while I'm ahead.
2. The second question is just as sobering. Are you good enough
to see patients by yourself in your own office and get them better?
The easiest (and cheapest) marketing strategy long-term is your
clinical results. Get people better and they will talk. If you're
still struggling to help people in 9th and 10th tri (main clinic),
maybe you should consider working for another doc for a year or two
until you feel confident in your clinical skills.
How do you make sure this doesn't happen? Go to SEMINARS. GO TO
SEMINARS. GO TO SEMINARS. GO TO SEMINARS. Oh, yeah? GO TO SEMINARS
and PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. Oh, yeah? And GO TO CLUBS, GO TO
CLUBS, GO TO CLUBS. If you get into NUHS and you are not going to
clubs, seminars or practicing your "high speed palpations", you are
doing yourself and your future patients a disservice, and I did not
do my job at this blog.
Adjusting isn't very hard, but it's extremely difficult if you
rely only on the few hours a week we are physically adjusting in
classes. We cool? I know I'm biased. But that's why I'm blogging
and that's why you're reading--it's to decrease your learning curve
so you don't wind up in the clinic wondering what the heck you're
doing 5 visits into a patient with back pain and no idea what to do
Side note: Readers of this blog are statistically proven to
become better doctors and are 99% better looking than non-readers.
3. Last Question: Are you prepared to be in practice by
yourself? The obvious answers are have you shadowed docs, gotten a
chiro assistant job, talked to teachers with practices and older
trimester students? I'll do my part to help out by rounding up the
interviews from some recent grads for you to answer some of your
questions. If you have a specific question feel free to email me.
Until next week...
Peace out Cub Scout,
I can't believe we are already back at National and the start of
the summer trimester is upon us! I hope you all had a relaxing and
fun-filled break with those close to you. My first week of break
included tearing up the kitchen with my dad (you know, man things)
because my mom found some cool cabinets and wanted to redo the
kitchen while I was home (she's an expert interior designer who can
do anything with nothing lol). I went to Boston with my best
friends from high school and hung around Fenway Park and different
parts of Beantown, which I always love. I also got to 'highspeed'
palpate some of my friends, which is always fun introducing them to
chiropractic. My 24th birthday was indeed over this break, and I
always look forward to the family dinner, reflecting on my first 24
years and looking forward to 76+ more (the Centurion Club is on my
bucket list, so yeah, I eat healthy).
On the NUHS front, I AM DONE WITH BASIC SCIENCES. I AM DONE WITH
BASIC SCIENCES. I AM DONE! (Thank god) After a long road of hard
studying in the basic science program that just about bashes your
head in, you pop out the other side telling yourself that wasn't so
bad (and then you pause and realize it's what you make of it). I
would like to thank my friends who became my proverbial NUHS family
out here in Chicago. Without great people in my life and exciting
seminars on weekends, I wouldn't have made it! Now that I'm in the
clinical sciences, I look forward to the next chapter in my
education and the refining and betterment of myself as a future
After much deliberation, I'm staying on the full track through
clinical sciences, time on the grind for the next year, and then
kill it in clinic where all the hard work, practice, practice,
practice, and extensive seminars, will pay off. If you don't know
me by now, I will be opening my own practice after graduation. By
historical numbers, less than 10% of graduates go right out into
practice on their own after grabbing their NUHS diplomas.
Which is a perfect segue (I think) for next week's (and maybe
the week after) blog on what to expect post graduation, the
options, the disadvantages/advantages, and a few interviews with
graduates for some lessons that will speed your learning curve and
hopefully give you insight into what you might like to do once
you're a DOCTOR OF CHIROPRACTIC.
A world of possibilities is at your feet. You game?
Editor's Note: John Cress, DC, formerly appeared in this
spot as a student blogger for the DC program. Christian has
relinquished his space to his friend John for some words of wisdom
from an NUHS grad.
Hello again future chiropractic students. For those
of you who do not follow the NUHS web logs, I am Dr. John Cress, a
past blogger and a December 2010 graduate. Prior to NUHS, I earned
a bachelor's degree in sports medicine and was a certified massage
Let me first say that I had a wonderful and positive experience
during my time at National. For a small town guy from the
Appalachian Mountains, it was quite the jump moving to Lombard,
Illinois. The experience I gained from working as an intern under
Drs. Mark Hartsuyker, Anna Jurik, and Bruce Hodges has prepared me
very well for my career.
Currently, I am teaching anatomy, physiology and kinesiology at
the Universal Spa Training Academy (USTA), a massage school in
Downers Grove, Illinois. As my first teaching position, I have
leaned on my experience being a student and have shown the same
compassion and integrity that I have learned from the anatomy
faculty at NUHS.
I am also an initial reviewer for CID Management, which provides
utilization and peer review services to support a company's
workers' compensation organization. As a reviewer, I have
capitalized on the training I learned during the Evidence Based
Practice class. This training has not only helped me in my position
at CIDM, but also helped guide my practice.
Finally, I am very close to opening Active Care Chiropractic
& Rehabilitation in downtown Arlington Heights, Illinois, with
co-owner and NUHS alumni Dr. Amanda Karm. You can find us on the
web at www.activecareah.com. It has been a very
challenging and rewarding journey from first tri student to
My advice for future students is something I learned from Dr.
Sue Darby and that I tell my own students. "It is only 15 weeks.
Fifteen weeks for the semester and then you are one step closer to
your goal. Practice time management and do your best to stay in the
moment. This will not only make you a better student, it will also
make you a better doctor." Good Luck!!
• MPI Gait Seminar
• Trimester Wind Down
• Chiro Games
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