Final Blog as a Chiropractic Student

Early in the week, the eighth, ninth, and tenth trimester interns had a mandatory presentation to attend in Lombard from NCMIC and an NUHS alumnus, Dr. John DeMatte. NCMIC is a malpractice insurance company that specializes in covering the chiropractic profession, and their motto is, "We Take Care of Our Own." The presentation was beyond helpful.

At the beginning of the session, both the insurance representative and Dr. DeMatte opened by asking what questions and concerns we all had about insurance, business, our future practices, and much more. They then tailored the presentation to try to answer as many of those questions for us as they could. For me, I have a list a mile long of questions about what I need to do before I start, so having a chance to listen in a comfortable setting and get those concerns addressed was so valuable. 

Some great topics or suggestions were (and I am just going to list because they covered so much!):

  • When applying for loans, most large banks deny requests from recent graduates due to their strict requirements. Best to go with smaller local banks to apply for new business loans.
  • Benefits of doing in-house billing -- keeps records and doctor/patient relationship more personal.
  • Are discounts for cash payments allowed?  Still a very grey line on whether or not they are OK. Some insurance companies require that they are the lowest price as per their contract. It is best to talk to other doctors in the area and see what is acceptable per the insurance companies in the area.
  • Problems with independent contractor relationships -- some doctors looking to add an independent contractor to their practice look at it as hiring an employee. In reality, a true independent contractor relationship consists of two separate businesses.
  • Importance of looking into demographics in the area where you are looking to open a practice. If you are set on opening in a specific area and you have a specific specialty you want to focus on, make sure that the area makes the income and will come into the office for those services.
  • NCMIC website also has an "ask an expert" link where you can ask questions about insurance, business, laws, or many other things referring the chiropractic profession.
  • What doctors are looking for when they are hiring a new associate -- new techniques that they don't perform in the practice that will bring in new patients and offer more treatment options for current patients. Other big attributes during an interview -- honesty, confidence, and professionalism!

Overall, the entire presentation was super helpful and somewhat stress relieving.  The fact that you are in a room with 50 other soon-to-be graduates all feeling the same way, made me feel like I am right where I need to be in terms of stress level for what's to come post-graduation.


The Next Step

This marks my final blog as an NUHS student. I will soon walk across a very important stage and start my career as a chiropractic physician. That moment is going to be filled with so much happiness, pride, excitement, fear, and anticipation. And that moment is only a few short weeks away.

I have to say, when I was first approached to write this blog, my first thought was, "No way, that's way out of my comfort zone." But, when you are pushed outside your comfort zone, you grow as a person. This blog has challenged me, let me express my feelings and experiences, and I am so happy I didn't let my fears stop me from doing it. Thank you for letting me share part of my life with you. Thank you to those who read my blog week after week. Thank you for the emails with questions, I loved to get them! And finally, thank you to Marie Olbrysh and Victoria Sweeney for having the faith in me and approaching me with this awesome opportunity. I am so glad I took it.  

This is me signing off. Good luck prospective and current students! If you have further questions, want to hear about life after chiropractic school, or need treatment for any aches and pains, you can email me at or visit me in my practice at Progressive Chiropractic Wellness Center in Lincoln Park, Chicago.

Countdown to Graduation - 3 Weeks

Patient care is winding down here at the NUHS Chicago Clinic for me. I am slowly turning over all my patients to ninth trimester interns as I finish with the last of my numbers for graduation. It is a bittersweet moment with a lot of the patients because we have been working together for the last six months. Although the patients are sad to see us moving on, they have been super supportive and excited for all us as we move on as doctors.

Over the past few months, my favorite pastime at clinic has been learning more and more about acupuncture. It has been such an effective treatment options for many of my patients. The results I have gotten when using acupuncture for treatment nine times out of ten have way exceeded my expectations. 

Photo of ear using auricular therapy
Auricular therapy with ear seed

The newest facet of acupuncture I have been using with some of my patients is auricular therapy. Auricular therapy consists of needling specific points on or around the ear that correspond to the rest of the body. Auricular therapy is a very effective treatment for depression, fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder, smoking cessation, facial rejuvenation, appetite suppression/weight loss, energy, and focus. For lasting results of an auricular therapy treatment, ear seeds can be placed in the patient's ear on specific pressure points. The ear seeds can be covered with a small bandage and left in the patient's ear for a few days after the treatment.

Photo of ear seed
Close up of ear seed

I have been treating a patient at the NUHS Chicago Whole Health Center for fatigue, focus, and increased energy using a lot of the acupuncture points in the ear. The patient is a student and also works two jobs. On average, the patient gets about four hours of sleep a night and her fatigue is mainly due to the stress of the her hectic schedule.

After the initial treatment, the patient has seen a significant increase in focus. Before starting treatment, she typically would doze off when attempting to study for long periods of time. Now, while studying, the patient stated she is able to maintain focus for a much longer period of time. With continued treatment, the patient has noticed increased energy levels throughout the day, decreased fatigue, and a more restful night's sleep.

Countdown to Graduation - 25 Days

Spring has officially come to Chicago, in the sense that we are now past March 20th. The weather may still seem very winter-like, but the giant gray colored piles of snow are consistently melting away day-by-day. And with the spring thaw, we have seen a significant increase in patients returning to the clinic. All businesses, whether a restaurant, retailor, or healthcare, were significantly affected by the unrelenting winter weather this year. But now, as winter washes away and spring sets in, people are returning to a more normal routine. 

As the patient volume has increased at clinic, several of the tenth trimester Chicago clinic interns have now finished with their numbers for graduation. The remaining tenth trimester interns should be finished with the rest of their numbers within the next two weeks. I can't believe that the end is so very near!

I began treating a patient this week with a chief complaint of chronic fatigue, pain, and weakness. The patient had been to several other physicians, none of which were able to help her with her symptoms. The patient did not know what else to try when a friend referred her to the NUHS Whole Health Center -- Chicago.


After the initial history and physical exam, we came to the conclusion that the patient was suffering from fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a chronic widespread pain and allodynia (heightened response to pain or pressure) syndrome. It is believed to be caused by a combination of physical, psychological, neurobiological, and environmental factors. Fibromyalgia symptoms can also begin after a traumatic or stressful event also known as post-traumatic stress disorder. Other symptoms patients might exhibit are insomnia, depression, anxiety, bowel and bladder abnormalities, and numbness/tingling sensation. Diagnosis is based on history of widespread pain for more than three months and tender points elicited on physical exam.

I have been treating the patient for about a week now, and her symptoms have decreased about 50% since the initial visit. I have been using a combination of chiropractic manipulative therapy, acupuncture, trigger point work, and supplementation to address her pain and fatigue. As the patient continues to progress, I will slowly add in light exercise, which will be designed to boost the patient's energy levels. One of the most interesting parts of this patient's history is when asked what the previous physicians did for treatment the response was a laundry list of pain medications, none of which delivered any relief from symptoms. And now after seeking out help from alternative medicine, she has seen a 50% decrease in symptomatology in the first week alone.

Internship Stress

Patient Population

Each clinic has a different patient population they treat depending on their area. At the National University of Health Sciences Whole Health Center - Chicago, our patient population consists of a mix of Polish, low income, and some students. A majority of our patients come to us from Community Health Center, which is a clinic that serves people without medical insurance. Once they are seen at that clinic, most of the treatment is 100% covered when they see us.

We do see some University of Illinois - Chicago (UIC) students, but not a large number. This is due to the fact that UIC offers their students excellent and affordable insurance through the university, which has almost 100% coverage when they see UIC MDs or DCs. We do offer the students 50% off at the NUHS Chicago Clinic for all services that we provide including: chiropractic, acupuncture, physical rehabilitation, and much more.

Internship Stress

Ever since the beginning of my education at NUHS, upper trimester students would constantly say, "Just wait until you are in your internship; it's so much easier." To those people who told me that, I have to say, "LIES!!!" Once you are in your chiropractic internship, you have a new kind of stress -- the stress of what is going to happen when you are finished.

For me, that stress has been decreased slightly due to the fact that I am finished with all my board exams (Part I, II, III, IV, and PT) and that I have job as an independent contractor lined up when I finish. But there is still so much to handle in order to get started as an independent contractor:

  • Your paperwork for your license along with a significant fee needs to be sent into the state.
  • After you receive your license from the state, you need to get an MPI number.
  • Then you need to apply to each health insurance provider you are planning to enrolling with.
  • And you need to buy malpractice insurance.

Photo of contract
The beginning of my contract as an independent contractor when I graduate.

On the business end of things:

  • You need to hire a lawyer and an accountant.
  • You need to get liability and disability insurance.
  • You need to file with the state as a limited liability corporation.
  • You need to start marketing your for your business.

Needless to say, it's a ton to think about, prep for, and the worst part is wait and wait for the state to approve the applications.

I think the reason I have found this process so stressful is because these are things I don't know anything about. I wear my health care hat very well, but I still need some time to figure out how to wear my business hat. Long to-do lists have become by best friend.

The Calm After the Storm

The start of 2014 has been a very trying one. As I mentioned in earlier blogs, stress has been high due to my master bath remodel, car troubles, the worst winter I can ever remember, and finalizing everything for graduation. I can finally say that I think most of the stress is behind me! The weather has been slightly (ever so slightly) getting better. As of last Thursday, the finishing touches were put on our master bathroom. As of last Friday, I sold my car (huge relief). And as the weeks have been going by, more and more of my numbers and paperwork have been completed for graduation. I spent a large portion of the day on Monday cleaning, organizing, and knocking things off my to-do list. With so much stress taken off of me, I am feeling revitalized, ready for spring, and more importantly ready for graduation.

Now that school is coming to a close, I have been working on the paperwork for my license. There is lengthy application that needs to be filled out and sent into the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Along with the application, a fee, undergraduate transcripts, and graduate transcripts also need to be sent in as they approve the paperwork. It was a fairly confusing application and process to put all together, but it was a great feeling to put that envelope in the mail. Also, the sooner the state gets the application and all supplemental materials, the sooner it is processed, and the sooner I can start practicing after graduation. 


The acupuncture course I was enrolled in ended back in the beginning of February. I have been really enjoying practicing and experimenting with acupuncture on my current patients. From carpal tunnel syndrome, to headaches, to low back pain, to muscular strains, to facial rejuvenation (an all natural form of Botox), I have been getting really good results. Most patients love having it done and some even come in requesting it. One big reason I enjoy practicing acupuncture is the fact that if certain points are not working for a patient, there's a large variety of additional points and protocols to use with them. On top of that, if a patient doesn't want to be needled, there is acupressure, auricular therapy, and cupping that can all be used to achieve similar results.