McKenzie Method and Tri Mixer

McKenzie Method

Recently at NUHS, I attended a weekend course taught by The McKenzie Institute USA. This educational foundation has developed a method to diagnose and treat patients suffering with musculoskeletal pain originating from the spine and extremities. Robin McKenzie was the founder of this institution, which began researching disorders of the musculoskeletal system in 1982. Since its beginning, McKenzie Method was utilized primarily by physical therapists, but it has in recent years become more accessible to chiropractic physicians.

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(Photo courtesy of The McKenzie Institute, New Zealand)

One of the most unique features of McKenzie Method is the concept that patients have the power and responsibility to help treat themselves through exercises and lifestyle modifications. This also adds a component of compliance to each patient's treatment plan, assuming that they will actively work to help correct and maintain proper posture and movement patterns. McKenzie treatment involves the patient in actively caring for their symptoms, which has an empowering effect that is able to eliminate pain for each person in the end.

I was enrolled in the Part A course, the first of the series toward certification that is geared toward focusing on the lumbar spine. With our class size of about 20 people, an even mix of both students and practicing doctors, we were able to work hands-on with two patients who were coming in complaining of low back pain. We practiced running through a McKenzie-based physical examination, taking a thorough history with the patient, and going through the diagnostic protocol that are used to help identify the classification of different pain presentations.

Once we were able to identify the type of mechanical back pain we were dealing with, we proceeded to work on exercises with each patient to help reduce and relieve their pain in different regions. The most rewarding aspect of the weekend was to see both of the patients leave the seminar with a reduction in their low back pain as well as in their radiating pain.

Getting to work with current DCs throughout the seminar was such a tremendous experience, and there was much clinical knowledge to be gained from these doctors! I even had the opportunity to meet Dr. Anthony Hamm, the current president of the American Chiropractic Association! In a couple weeks, we will be returning to complete Part A of the seminar.

Now that I am an intern in clinic, I'm beginning to hone in on what seminars I hope to take in the next year and what types of additional skills I want to obtain for practice. At National and in the Chicago area, there are so many tremendous seminars and certifications available for us as students. With all of the developments in the field of medicine, it will be valuable to have other skill sets such as McKenzie to offer to my future patients when I am in practice.

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Tri-Mixer

Last Friday night was our tri-mixer where all of the students were invited to come out and meet each other. As an officer for Student Council who helped plan the event, it's always fulfilling to see tons of students come and participate in social events! The cold and the snow can't hold us back from enjoying a weekend night out with friends (like my friend KC and I)! :)

New Year, New Start

Happy 2015 everyone! I hope you all had a relaxing holiday season with friends and family.

As mentioned in my last post, this last year of school is going to be a huge change for me. I'm getting used to leaving my apartment at 6:30 a.m. just to avoid Chicago rush hour traffic, and in the winter months, it's tough waking up before the sun rises. Coming back from break and driving home to my little city apartment was quite a change, knowing I'd left the comfort of the suburbs behind. However, I'm looking forward to a year of experiences as an independent city gal!

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Intern name tag!

Our first week of 8th trimester began with clinic orientation for new interns. We were congratulated for reaching this point in our education, but also reminded of the importance of entering this phase of our career. It is so humbling to have patients put their trust and confidence in us as future physicians, yet I still experience the pressures of accurate diagnosis and treatment with each and every person.

At the Salvation Army clinic, these men and women will be coming from all walks of life, not necessarily seeking relief from their musculoskeletal pain, but needing a thorough full-body physical examination. Internal disorders can have referral pain patterns that mimic musculoskeletal conditions, and so it will be critical that we interns can identify the underlying pathologies in an efficient and timely manner.

It's going to be a challenging internship, both clinically and professionally. Not only will I be learning how to speak about chiropractic care with confidence, but also in a language that patients will understand and relate to. We get so wrapped up in the medical terminology, we forget how to convey the appropriate information in a way that the patient will comprehend. Additionally, speaking as a future physician will be another goal I hope to achieve, as it is critical to express empathy but still authority to our patients.

As always, please reach out to me at erinemley@student.nuhs.edu with any questions or comments about my life as a chiropractic student and intern. I look forward to sharing my clinical experiences with you over the course of the next 11 months. 331 days until graduation: the countdown has begun! :)

7th Trimester COMPLETE!

It's hard to believe that the fall trimester is almost over. With the holidays being so highly anticipated by students, it seems as though there is always something to look forward to that makes the time fly by.

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This past weekend, I spent the Thanksgiving holiday at my parent's home in Ohio. I did my best to follow my own Thanksgiving recommendations, but it's safe to say that I still ate my share of satisfying, home-cooked calories! Having the opportunity to study chiropractic medicine is a blessing in and of itself, but then when I think about all the friends I've met, memories I've made, and life lessons I've learned, life really does seem wonderful. Every day I am in this challenging program, I am reminded how much I have to be thankful for.

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Alright, so my weekend didn't stop there. I traveled to "old Columbus town" for the remainder of my trip home to spend time with college friends and watch the rivalry of the year, the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game. (This may be the point in my blogs where some people stop reading!) I have been and will always be a Buckeye alumnus and diehard fan, so this is commonly my favorite weekend of the year. I was able to catch up with friends from college that I hadn't seen since we graduated two and a half years ago, and I couldn't have asked for a better weekend revisiting college memories!

So now I'm back in Lombard, gearing up for 10 days of final exams, practicals, and papers. These are commonly everyone's least favorite two weeks of the trimester, when we find ourselves increasing our coffee intake and our eyes dry out from staring at endless notes. It's going to be a challenging period, but you just feel that much more accomplished by the end of it all. Wow, I'm going to graduate chiropractic school in just about one year!

My 4-week winter break is going to begin by moving to my new apartment in Lincoln Park, spending time in Ohio visiting friends and family, and taking a nice tropical vacation over New Year's! I'm really looking forward to a little R&R and a chance to unwind before the last year begins.

I wish everyone the happiest and safest of holidays! As always, I'd love to hear from you if you have any questions about NUHS and our programs. :) Take care and enjoy the new year!

A Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

I can't believe we've reached the end of November already. It seems like just yesterday we were beginning the fall term and watching the leaves change color. The weather here in Illinois sure has been brutal lately, but I am optimistic for safe and sunny driving conditions this upcoming Wednesday as I join the other 46.3 million Americans on the road home. (Good thing gas prices are low these days!)

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A couple friendly tips on how to stay healthy this Thursday:

  • Stick with the guidelines of the anti-inflammatory diet:
    • Fruits -- fresh cranberries, preferably with little sugar added
    • Veggies --green beans, a hearty salad of greens, and try mashed sweet potatoes instead! A friendly reminder that white potatoes and corn are not vegetables :(
    • Instead of stuffing made exclusively with starches, throw in some big chunks of carrots and celery to spruce things up
    • Red wine and stout beer are your allies! Skip out on the sugary cocktails
    • Real butter is a healthy fat, so don't feel guilty tossing a dollop on those 'taters!
  • Don't cut out all your favorite foods just because you're being healthy. Eat sensible portions of everything and just keep things in moderation. :)
  • Listen to your leptin! Trust your body when it's telling you it's full. Small and frequent meals are always best to keep your metabolism chugging along.
  • Just because Grandma made 4 different pies doesn't mean you have to eat a slice from all 4 in one sitting. Maybe just 3, hehe!

In the spirit of the holiday season, I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving weekend with friends and family. We have so much to be thankful for!

Clinic Selections

Well everyone, it's finally that time in the program that we've all been waiting for -- Registration Week in 7th Trimester -- when students frantically log on, racing the clock, and selecting the clinician that they are going to be working with for the last year of their education. We've speculated over this day since we entered the DC program, dreaming of being in clinic and reaching the end of this long educational journey. Finally, we're able to apply all the hours of studying, practicing adjusting, and practical examinations to good use. This registration process has been highly anticipated, and I know that everyone is looking forward to it being over.

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NUHS has clinic locations on our campus in Lombard, in Aurora, in downtown Chicago, and also at a non-profit clinic in a Salvation Army store in the city. Among these four locations, there are eight clinicians to select from when choosing where to complete your internship. I chose to visit and observe at the Salvation Army clinic downtown earlier in this trimester, which is part of the application process to be an intern at this location. After completing the remainder of the interview and application process, I am excited to say that I have been chosen to complete my internship at the Salvation Army Clinic for 2015!

I am both so humbled and excited to be an incoming intern under Dr. Erin Quinlan. Working at the Salvation Army clinic will be a very unique and eye-opening experience, and I am ready for the challenge! I have always found myself drawn to helping those in underserved populations and those that are less fortunate than others, and I know I will gain so much from this experience.

I've also decided to really get the full Chicago experience and move to the city for my last year of school! I'm moving to the Lincoln Park neighborhood, just north of downtown and right next to Lake Michigan, a perfect area for a young professional student such as myself. With so many changes ahead, I'm looking forward to enjoying my last few weeks of this trimester and then relaxing at home in Ohio over winter break.