This past week was a week
of anxiety, hope, and celebration for thousands of our medical
colleagues, all over the nation. Yearly, on a particular Thursday,
our allopathic friends get matched with one of the residency
programs to which they have applied. It's a tense, emotionally
charged day in which they see their years of hard work come to
fruition, for better or for worse. Coincidentally, this past week
was permeated with an air of suspense at National University as
well, among my chiropractic friends and me. It was the week that we
had the privilege of seeing our work come to fruition as well.
Students are placed into tiers corresponding to their GPA.
The tier you earn
determines which day you may choose the clinic, and the clinician,
where you will complete your internship. As there are only three
clinics to choose from, the nervous anticipation wasn't nearly as
heart pounding as awaiting a residency placement. Nevertheless, the
anxiety was palpable around the computers as we first-tiers kept
refreshing our screens, trying to seize the exact moment when
registration opened. Spots with each clinician, clinic, and shift
are limited, so it's the fastest click that wins the prize.
Thankfully, we all landed the slot we desired. I nearly cheered
when I seized a spot at the Chicago Salvation Army Clinic. I've
become quite fond of this city and winning that spot means I'll get
to spend a lot more time here, at home. I think my excitement was
diminutive compared to that of my good friend Richard.
Richard and I having a good
Richard is graduating from Northwestern's
Feinberg School of Medicine in May. He was matched with his
residency on Thursday. He applied solely to East Coast hospitals
for his residency. He wanted to be close to home (New York) and his
family. Richard is one of the most talented, insightful, empathetic
individuals I've ever met. And between you and me, he's one of the
top medical students, not just at Northwestern, but also in the
nation. Keep it quiet though…he's humble. So, I wasn't surprised to
learn he was accepted to his first choice residency - Columbia
University Medical Center, Manhattan, New York. Needless to say,
celebrations were in order this past weekend. However, it wasn't
just a celebration of work hard done. It was a celebration of
friendship, a reflection of how far we've come and the meaningful
connections we've forged on this journey of ours.
It's easy for us to get too comfortable with what
we're learning. It becomes second nature to intellectualize what
the healthcare profession is. Don't get me wrong, the intellectual
aspects of our profession have their time and place. But, don't let
this way of thinking cloud the crucial human component of what we
do. People place their trust, their health, and their lives in our
hands. I think keeping that reality close and in focus every time
we interact with a patient is so very important. I struggle with
this myself. So often the intellectual route is the route with
emotional security. This reflex is a strong one for me.
Coming out of the military, I found it
hard to emotionally invest in people. But, emotional availability
is a two-way street. I found that I couldn't shut down the incoming
traffic without shutting down the outgoing, effectively isolating
myself in my castle of rationality. It's our emotional acuity and
ability to truly empathize that make us uniquely human. I felt as
though I had lost a part of me to some degree, that part that
allowed me to truly connect.
So when you find yourself taking a step down that
path of intellectualization, stop and ask yourself what it is you
think you're protecting yourself from. You'll find that the only
thing that you end up "protecting" yourself from is taking part in
that breathtaking human tapestry of emotional connection.
Stop the retreat. Be here. Be now. Your patients
will thank you.
Put your finger anywhere on the map. Chances are, you'll be able
to work there as a DC. Many countries provide DCs with a scope that
is either similar to the U.S., or broader.
I'll admit I let my imagination run wild while I was researching
possible locations for the business plan I was writing for Dr.
Hodges' business class. The two hours I spent dreaming wasn't all
idle time thankfully, as I learned a lot about international
I finally landed on what I consider to be my dream location --
Queenstown, New Zealand. It's a gorgeous town, nestled in an
idyllic setting, surrounded by the towering New Zealand Alps. There
are large lakes in abundance, and in New Zealand, the ocean is
never far away. As an added bonus, this is the fastest growing
region in New Zealand, growing at a staggering annual rate of 3.8%.
The point is, if you're looking to practice abroad, there are
diverse options available.
Figuring out the legal status of chiropractors in the country
you choose is the first hurdle, so here's a link from the World Federation of Chiropractic that will
help clarify things. The next things to thoroughly figure out are
the visa or residency requirements. Luckily, in most of the
countries I've researched, chiropractic is considered a highly
skilled profession, which means you go to the front of the line.
Additionally, U.S. chiropractors are recognized by The Councils of
Chiropractic Education International, which means our education
is equivalent to, or surpasses, the education offered in the other
Chiropractic in Europe
(Image source: nafkam-camregulation.uit.no)
Finally, you need a practice plan. Let's be honest, it can be
really hard to move to a new country, apply for a business loan,
and get a practice up-and-running without being completely buried.
At the least, I plan to start work as an associate. At the most,
and ideally, I would find a practice that I could buy after working
there a few years. This will give me ample time to learn the
country, the practice, and the patient base. Regardless of your
ideal practice destination, you'll find that there are a myriad of
options available to you.
Becoming a fantastic doctor is crucial, no doubt about it.
However, especially in our profession, the business aspect can't be
downplayed. There isn't much of an established medical structure
that we can easily assimilate into upon graduation. In fact, a good
chunk of graduates start their own practice right off the bat.
Needless to say, there's a lot that goes into that, which is why
having a solid business foundation is paramount.
NUHS addresses this thoroughly. Some of my largest projects
during my few years here have been for my business classes. And
that isn't a slight. Business isn't something that you sit around
and theorize about. Business is about getting your hands dirty.
It's about working through the complexities, putting the pieces
together, and creating a business plan.
Some much needed time with my nephew
Anyone can sit and talk about how important it is to have the
financials figured out, or knowing how much income you need to
make, or understanding how you should keep your overhead low. But
that won't lead to anything unless you've actually had to price out
every single thing you need to start your practice. Without doing
the groundwork yourself, you'll be left holding your stethoscope on
the curb after graduation. You need to know what challenges you
face and how to overcome them -- before you graduate.
I'm currently in my third business class at National. This one
is a bit different from the past two, because this one is a series
of guest lectures. Each week, there is a new expert in their
respective field that lends insight into that particular facet of
business. This is truly an invaluable class that I would be
completely lost without.
This past weekend we had three days off due to Presidents' Day
on Monday, and let me tell you, it was needed. The extra day
provided time to catch up on all those little things that have been
put on the back burner over the past couple weeks. More than
anything, the apartment needed some TLC as it had taken the brunt
of my exam driven negligence.
The bond between an ND and DC student
The extra day also served as a time of solace to gather up any
procedural notes and thoughts relating to male and female sensitive
exams, as we will be performing them on paid "sim" patients this
coming week. It can be a bit of a daunting prospect, and it's
hardly something that my classmates and I are overly excited about.
However, if there is an activity that perfectly embodies why many
of us chose NUHS, this is it. This is one of those quintessential
primary care skills that we need to develop. As daunting as the
task may seem, it is a crucial milestone on the journey to
Chicago, rising from the mist
As crucial as this impending task is, it's not necessarily
something I enjoy dwelling on, so I promptly found time to enjoy
the unprecedented weather in Chicago this past weekend. With a high
of almost 70º on Saturday, I dusted off the bike, gave it one heck
of a tune-up, and ripped down the lakeshore trail for its inaugural
trip of the season.
I was not disappointed as the view was breathtaking. The cold,
rising from the water mingled with the warm air from the city,
swirling into clouds of vapor and mist, shrouding the city in an
ethereal blanket. A wispy, fading manifestation of that shining
city on a hill struck me as an ironic happenstance. My bleak
geopolitical reverie certainly didn't last long as I had to really
kick it hard when another biker made the mistake of passing me. My
mind focused to the task at hand, I found the true solace I was
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