As I was sitting down to write this week's blog, also my last
blog as a chiropractic student, I realized that I have lately been
saying a lot of "Goodbyes." Over a month ago, I said "Goodbye" to
the Salvation Army clinic and my many friends who I spent endless
hours laughing with and learning from. A few weeks ago, I said
"Goodbye" to Dr. Owens and his receptionist Tammy at the Danville
VA hospital, where I also made tremendous memories interacting with
the veterans and working within the government's healthcare system.
Instead of saying yet a third "Goodbye" to National, I will
conclude my experience instead by closing the chapter and welcoming
the next steps along my journey.
Chiropractic school has been one of the most challenging and
rewarding decisions of my life. This week, four years ago, I was
finishing up my fall finals at Ohio State and had just come home
for the holidays, only to be surprised by a call from Karla Drew,
one of National's admissions counselors. The phone interview with
Karla was the beginning of a new chapter for me then, and I was
thrilled when I received my acceptance letter in the mail a few
months later, notifying me that I would begin studying chiropractic
medicine at NUHS in September of 2012.
My White Coat Ceremony in September 2012.
The move to Illinois was unfamiliar and yet exciting. I spent my
first year living in libraries, as many students do in any medical
or professional program. Phase I of the program seemed to drag on,
but by 2014, I had moved on to the clinical sciences in Phase II
and was soaking up all of the information. I quickly became
involved in our university, both in student organizations and with
the admissions office, so I spent the majority of my free time
getting to know my fellow peers and developing closer
In 2015, I moved to the city of Chicago to be closer to the
Salvation Army clinic and to enjoy a new experience as a young
adult. I quickly became infatuated with my neighborhood in Lincoln
Park and was thrilled to explore the city in my free time. I grew
close with my "clinic-mates" as we called each other, and I
developed both my diagnostic and technique skills as a chiropractic
intern working with Dr. Erin Quinlan. During my year in Chicago, I
found myself falling in love with all of the people and places
around me. I decided to forego my previous plans to return to Ohio
and stay in Chicago following graduation from chiropractic
Soon to follow my brother Billy's footsteps at his NUHS
graduation in December 2000.
It's hard to believe that the past years have flown by so
quickly. I never imagined that this time would arrive! My
experiences and memories at National changed my life, and for that,
I am so entirely grateful. I believe that we as CAM professionals
have so much potential to help others, if only we have the courage
to speak up and initiate change in a society overwhelmed by
pharmaceutical influence. The healthcare profession needs more
chiropractors with big hearts and open minds so that we can
continue to impact the lives of so many people struggling with
chronic pain and disease.
It has been a pleasure sharing my experiences through my blog
posts over the past two years, and I can only hope that you now
feel more inspired to pursue a career in chiropractic medicine and
come experience National University for yourself. As always, please
don't hesitate to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with any
questions you may have.
The countdown has begun, and I feel like these last weeks of
10th trimester are flying by. After my month in Danville, I'm
slowly adjusting to life back in the Chicagoland area. The city is
filled with Christmas lights, tourists galore, and most
importantly, holiday cheer. I find myself completely awestruck by
the beauty and spirit that surrounds me this time of year, and I am
even more eager now for December 17th to arrive.
The Emley Family
Over the Thanksgiving weekend, I traveled to my parent's home in
Ohio to celebrate the holiday with them and enjoy some time with
the ones I love. I haven't been home in nearly six months, which
seems surreal to me. It's hard to believe that I won't be returning
home to Ohio after all is said and done. Then again, I guess
spreading your wings and planting your own roots is just part of
Once I had returned to Chicago for the remainder of the weekend,
Chris and I spent Saturday night sightseeing downtown on the
Magnificent Mile and celebrating my return to Chicago.
Chris and I enjoying a celebratory bottle of wine
For the next two weeks, I will be replacing my normal clinic
internship with "Observation Days" that we are allotted as
10th trimester chiropractic students. I am going to be
spending time at Proper Balance Healthcare with Dr. Christina
Creevy-Knox (NUHS 2001), where I will begin my career as a
chiropractic associate once I receive my Illinois license in
January. I can't wait to learn the flow of the practice, meet the
patients, and begin training as their new doctor on staff!
It seems like next week will be my last blog as a chiropractic
student at National, and I look forward to sharing my experiences
with you one more time!
Travel snacks and coffee: $40
My experience at the VA hospital: Priceless
Over the past month, I've driven over 1,500 miles and spent over
25 hours in the car. I've finished two audiobooks and consumed
copious amounts of coffee while driving. Would I do it all over
again? In a heartbeat!
My experience at the Danville, Illinois, VA hospital system has
been challenging, yet so rewarding. Dr. Owens reminds me that I was
selected for the preceptorship because he knew I would make a
beneficial impact on his patients, and each day that has passed at
the clinic, I have been proud of my achievements. I entered the
position knowing that the patients would be a challenging
population, many of them dealing with chronic pain and having
psychosocial components to their conditions. I was confronted with
the task of providing care to significantly older patients than
those I saw at my clinic internship, the majority of whom were
Myself, Dr. Tony Hamm (ACA president and National grad), and
From the McKenzie Part C seminar this weekend on
I was limited with what types of care I could offer the
patients, partially because the VA hospital has health care
providers to perform some of the modalities we use as chiropractors
(i.e. the PT department also has an electrical stimulation
machine), but also because the patients were being co-managed with
so many other providers. My primary tools in the clinic were manual
manipulation, mobilization assisted with a drop table, flexion
distraction, and acupuncture that was performed by Dr. Owens. With
a much smaller tool bag than what I was familiar with having at
Salvation Army, I learned to be resourceful!
One of the most valuable lessons I learned from Dr. Owens during
my time at the VA is the importance of open communication with the
patient. The verbal components of a patient encounter are often the
most challenging to grasp as a new doctor. I found myself
explaining various treatment options and their benefits, educating
the patient about the importance of adjusting and acupuncture, and
most importantly, emphasizing prognosis.
As interns, we often see a new patient and want to do everything
we can to help them reduce their pain and improve their function.
However, it's important to remember that not all conditions that
walk into our offices can be treated conservatively with
chiropractic. With a few difficult cases, I realize that I can't
necessarily help everyone. Some patients need more aggressive
treatment options or may never be fully out of pain because of
their previous conditions. I've been learning to strive for
"maximum clinical improvement," rather than "completely-healed."
Often times, we blame ourselves and our skills for not being good
enough to heal patients, and that mindset is gradually broken with
time. My experience at the VA has made me value my talents and
manual skills more than ever before, and I'm excited to say that I
feel prepared to begin practicing.
I'm sad to be leaving my patients that I have worked with over
the past four weeks, but I am confident that I am leaving them in
great hands with Dr. Owens. He was a wealth of knowledge and a true
mentor to me during this preceptorship, and I wouldn't trade my
memories and experience for anything. Thank you from the bottom of
my heart to Dr. Owens and Tammy for all of their encouragement and
support along my journey!
Only three weeks until the big day! Here I come, graduation!
There is no greater feeling than knowing you have just jumped
over your last hurdle in what seems to be the most exhausting race
of your life. That's the metaphor I am using to describe this
overwhelming relief of having completed Part Four (IV) of the
chiropractic national board exams. I haven't quite reached the
finish line yet to cross through that final threshold, but the only
elements that stand between that graduation stage and me are four
weeks and the unknown certainty of board scores.
A beautiful sunrise I witnessed driving down one morning from
Chicago to Danville
The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, or as we refer to
as the NBCE, is the organization which administers all components
of chiropractic board exams, and they always have a six-week
waiting period for scores to be graded and posted. All board exams
up to this point had been written exams, consisting of oodles of
multiple choice questions that covered the diverse curriculum of
our education. The last series, Part IV, was a practical style of
exam, which in my opinion, was much more nerve-wracking!
The exam took place over two days:
Saturday was by far the longest and most draining day of the
board exams, but I walked out feeling confident that I was amply
prepared through my education at National University and with my
weeks of independent preparation. It was great to spend time with
my friends and peers again, those who I haven't seen much since
beginning clinic at Salvation Army, even if it was only because we
were all forced to convene in Davenport, Iowa, for exams!
My sister Liz and I relaxing on Saturday night after my long
weekend of board exams
After the exams were finished, I came back to Chicago to spend
Saturday night relaxing and decompressing from the long weekend in
Iowa. I was excited to spend some time with my little sister Liz,
who was in town briefly and was there to celebrate with me when I
Over the next couple weeks, I will be finishing up my internship
in Danville, preparing the last components of my Illinois license
application, and gearing up for graduation. The last hurdle has now
been jumped and the finish line is finally within reach!
Well everyone, I've made it through my first week here at the VA
Hospital! My experience began last Monday morning when I entered
the rehabilitation wing of the hospital where the chiropractic
clinic is among the physical therapy and occupational therapy
View of the hospital from my house
I met Dr. Donald Owens and his assistant Tammy, who manages the
front desk and handles the business matters of the clinic. After a
brief introduction to other people within the department, I toured
the hospital and had the chance to get oriented with my
surroundings. Dr. Owens eased me into the clinic by allowing me to
shadow him the first day, but my experience became hands-on by day
During my first week, I encountered a variety of veterans all
from different eras and different branches of service. Believe it
or not, almost all of the patients were presenting with neck and
low back pain! Each patient has presented with a different set of
symptoms with different degrees of severity, and managing each case
has been a learning experience so far. It was exciting to see how
Dr. Owens performs his physical exams, how he adjusts patients, and
how he educates them about their conditions.
For many of the veterans, this is not their first experience
with chronic pain, so as a shiny-eyed intern, it has been a
challenge for me to understand the prognosis of these conditions.
In our education, we focus on effective and efficient treatments
that will release the patients from our care in a set number of
visits. However, with many of the patients here at the VA hospital,
there is no date set in stone. Teaching the patients how to best
manage their condition is part of the doctor-patient relationship
here at the VA hospital, because more often than not, a chronic
condition associated with military service may never fully
Sunset in Danville
In my evenings, I have been spending time at the Danville public
library and in my room, gearing up for Part 4 boards coming up next
weekend! Between all the flashcards and highlighters I've bought to
prepare for this exam, I'm ready to put down the study materials
and just be done. The light at the end of the tunnel is near!
• 5-Minute NUHS Campus Tour
• What I Learned in 6th Tri
• Opportunities Outside the Classroom
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