Botanical Medicine, Case Studies, and My 25th Birthday

Having over 6 years of postsecondary education is an impressive thing. That is not meant to toot my own horn; it is meant to do the opposite. I would think that by now, even if I am unfamiliar with something, whether it be a pharmaceutical or an herbal supplement, I would have heard of it by now with my background in sports, exercise science, nutrition and biology. Even if I hadn't come across something in undergrad or in my own research, maybe I would have heard it sometime in my two plus years in graduate school.

It just so happens there are still a plethora of botanicals and nutritional supplements (with research backing up its efficacy) that I have never heard of. This week in botanical medicine, my professor, Dr. Brett Martin, went through some botanicals that neither my classmates nor I had ever heard of.

The first one I want to mention is Yerba Santa. It is an herb used for respiratory problems. It is an expectorant and an anti-inflammatory agent. When I first heard it, I thought there is no way there are mainstream sources with this herb. Much to my surprise,Yerba Santa is on websites like WebMD. I was blown away.

Another botanical I had never heard of is Goldenseal. The active constituent in goldenseal is Berberine, a highly studied compound. Berberine can be used to treat hyperlipidemia and NIDDM. It has been found in meta-analyses to be as effective as pharmaceuticals at lowering blood lipids. Both LDL and total cholesterol were significantly reduced in said study. Berberine is also a potent antimicrobial agent. It is known as "nature's antibiotic." I continue to learn of new herbs and supplements that I may utilize one day to help treat my patients conservatively.

Each week in Advanced Diagnosis, we have case studies. Though I cannot talk about the cases outside of the class, I can talk about the experiences I am having. The cases that have been presented are challenging our clinical reasoning. The histories are vague but our exams allow us to pinpoint the problems.

Some of the standardized patients in these case studies, truly present with these conditions. I am ecstatic that I have been able to diagnose these tricky presentations and it says a lot about the education we have received here at NUHS. We truly are trained as primary care physicians.

We are able to differentiate between muscular, vascular, neural, and ligamentous generated issues. We know a surplus of orthopedic tests we can use to paint a clearer picture of the diagnosis. We are one trimester away from clinic and I can't think of a better way to prepare us. My only criticism is that we don't do more cases, but it could be overwhelming with all our other classes.

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Over the weekend, I celebrated my 25th birthday! My girlfriend surprised me by taking me to the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Big Cat Rescue is a sanctuary for big cats like lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars, servals, ocelots, lynx, panthers and others. This sanctuary provides care and a safe place to live for many abandoned, orphaned and abused animals. I was overwhelmed by the good work they do. All the money from admission goes to supporting the animals.

I saw so many beautiful animals. My favorites were the tigers. I also learned how white tigers are homozygous recessive therefore extraordinarily rare. Breeders had to inbreed them in order to produce a litter of white tigers. The problem is inbreeding causes many birth defects in these animals. Thankfully there are places for these animals to go like the Big Cat Rescue. We went out to lunch afterwards and finished up the evening by going bowling with my friends. It was a great birthday and I hope to visit the big cat rescue again in the near future.

If you have any questions, please email me at ChristopherKotwicki@student.NUHS.edu

Spine Boarding and First Patient Encounter

This week was monumental for me and my fellow classmates. We practiced spine boarding and applying a cervical collar on a mannequin and on each other in Ambulatory Trauma class.

We had to practice surveying the area, assessing if the patient is conscious, and check if the patient is breathing. We practiced stabilizing the spine, screening the spine for abnormalities, and rolling the patient onto the spine board.

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Once on the spine board, we secured the patient and made sure the straps were tight. We then practiced lifting and carrying the patient. This is very useful for someone like myself who has ambitions to work with athletes. When athletes have trauma to the neck or spine, the medics will spine board the athlete to prevent damage to the spinal cord.

This season one of the players on my favorite football team, the New York Jets, was put on a spine board after sustaining an injury. For me, this was a review because I went over this in undergrad as a kinesiology major, but I hadn't done it in years.

This week in my advanced problem solving class, I had my first patient encounter. We are required to dress professionally for the meeting, and approach it as if it is a real patient. The patient encounter is with a standardized patient whom we have never met before. My colleagues and I have to take a comprehensive history, perform a problem-focused exam, perform the indicated orthopedic exams, and come up with a diagnosis and treatment plan.

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It really was a milestone in our academic careers. We needed to take a picture to commemorate it and of course we took a selfie! We were all very nervous for this experience but a quick photo shoot was just what the doctor ordered to relieve our stress. We had to remind ourselves to relax because, "We got this!"

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We nailed it! Our first patient encounters were stressful but we had to laugh because we were more prepared than we thought. We filled in our history of chief complaints form, our SOAP notes, our exam sheets, our problem management sheets, and turned them in for a grade.

We will have a patient encounter each week for the next 10 weeks, so by the time we get to clinic, it will be second nature.

That is all for this week! If you have any questions please email me at ChristopherKotwicki@student.NUHS.edu

First Sports Council Meeting

This week we had our first Sports Council meeting of the trimester. Dr. Guadagno, the American Chiropractic Association's Sports Chiropractor of the Year, showed us the basics of applying kinesiology tape.

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There was a huge turnout for the meeting as it was filled with students from every trimester! In addition to an introduction to kinesiology taping, we went over stability taping and strapping by Mike, one of the NUHS students who is a certified athletic trainer. We watched Dr. G and Mike demonstrate on a couple students. Dr. G taped a shoulder and Mike taped an ankle. Afterwards, we broke up into groups and practiced the techniques we just learned.

In addition to Sports Council, I attended the first Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) meeting of the trimester. I am required to be there because I am on the elected board for the chapter at our school. We discussed our plans for our trip to Washington, D.C. in March. We also discussed our plans for fundraisers and community outreach. We usually volunteer at the local Veterans Affairs Hospital in St. Petersburg.

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I have been trying to improve my skills in manipulation this trimester because next trimester I will be in clinic and therefore treating patients. To improve my skills in manipulation, I have attended every open adjusting lab this trimester. The open adjusting labs have had great turnouts! Not only was I able to work on my adjusting, I have been helping others with their manipulation and palpation.

Next week is our first patient encounter of the trimester!

Thank you for reading my blog, if you have any questions email me at ChristopherKotwicki@student.nuhs.edu

New Trimester, Same Feelings

Every trimester has been a new and exciting experience. This trimester doesn't seem like that. Thus far this trimester feels reminiscent of senior year in high school or college. I am at the end of classes and I am sharing the knowledge I now have with the incoming and lower trimester students. I plan to attend every open adjusting lab this trimester, take multiple certification classes, attend Motion Palpation Club meetings, and go to the Sports Council events. Of course, this is in addition to performing well in my classes.

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To reiterate the familiarity I am feeling, this is the 6th trimester I am in the Student Council, last week was my 7th Club Lunch Day, this is my 5th trimester as an instructor recommended student tutor, and it will be my second time going to Washington D.C. for SACA.

I presented at Club Lunch Day and it may have been the largest turnout for a club lunch since I began at NUHS in January 2015. All the first trimester students were very engaged and excited to sign up for the student clubs. I had eight new students sign up for Chirogames club! I am very excited to finish up my tenure as president of Chirogames club with the largest group to date!

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Even though things are the same, repetition is a nice change of pace. It seems counterintuitive and contradictory, but the status quo has been to expect the unexpected. It is nice to know what to expect. This won't last since next trimester is the start of clinic. I will enjoy it for now and continue to enjoy the things I have come to love like beach days in January!

If you have any questions, please email me at ChristopherKotwicki@student.NUHS.edu.

The Beginning of Trimester 7

After a long and well-deserved break, I am back in Florida to start my last trimester of classes before I start clinic. I am still on the fastest track the school has, meaning I will finish the clinical sciences phase in four trimesters. I was four-track for basic sciences, as well, so I am used to the large workload. This trimester I am taking 11 classes:

  1. Physiological Therapeutics - Modalities
  2. Botanical Medicine II
  3. Clinical Nutrition
  4. Psychopathology and Health Psychology
  5. Functional Rehab - Advanced Manual Medicine
  6. Fundamentals of Imaging - Chest and Abdomen
  7. Business Planning
  8. Advanced Diagnosis & Problem Solving
  9. Ambulatory Trauma Care
  10. End Range Loading & Flexion Distraction
  11. Applied Evidence-Based Practice

This trimester is the largest workload of all the trimesters with 28.5 credits. Thankfully the classes are not as difficult as previous trimesters. These classes are like the icing on the cake. I have learned all about diet and nutrition, how to adjust, how to practice in an evidence-based healthcare system, and I have a good understanding of diagnosis and treatment. These classes are putting those previously learned skills to the test and helping us refine them.

While I was home in New Jersey, I shadowed at Thompson Healthcare and Causeway Chiropractic. I previously shadowed at both of these practices but now that I am further in the program, I know more and was able to better comprehend what the doctors were doing.

Thompson Healthcare is a multidisciplinary practice with physical therapy, pain management, massage therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic. It was nice to see how all the employees worked cohesively to treat their patients. Causeway Chiropractic is on the other side of the spectrum. It is a small family practice with a doctor of chiropractic and three employees. Both benefitted their patients, and I was able to see what I like from both and what I dislike from both. I am starting to picture exactly how I want to practice.

I try and do something productive each break. Shadowing is perfect because it revitalizes my passion and motivates me to want to continue school. For those of you who are interested in the chiropractic profession, I suggest you shadow different chiropractors and see if it is for you.

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I returned to Florida after three weeks in New Jersey. Upon returning, we went out to lunch for my colleague and friend Michael's birthday. It was nice to socialize with everyone outside of school. Now it is time to begin my last full trimester of clinical sciences! 

If you have any questions please email me at ChristopherKotwicki@student.nuhs.edu