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Excitement for the Frontier

by Mar 8, 2016

Home » Chiropractic Medicine Student Blog - Illinois » Excitement for the Frontier

Some people feel as though stepping into the DC profession is akin to stepping into the void. There seems to be a veil of uncertainty shrouding the profession at times — which is unfortunate. Perhaps “it” is the relative obscurity of the general specifics of the profession as a whole; or, perhaps, it is an unfortunate remnant of a bygone era. There is a rocky history between various factions of healthcare. Money talks. Fear sells. Politic corrupts. Progress — whether it is social, cultural, or economic — can be lackadaisical at times.

The infrastructure that is classically inherent to the allopathic profession isn’t readily available to DCs. This absence of traditional support has roots in that bygone era, during which our profession was vilified and almost stifled into oblivion by the prevailing socioeconomic healthcare industrial complex. The large strides the profession has taken in the past 40-50 years is nothing short of brilliant. It speaks to the necessity of the services DCs offer. There is a gaping chasm in healthcare that we fill.

The face I make when my writing is interrupted.

Sure, the infrastructure may be minimal at times. To some that’s frightening. To me, it has always struck me as the frontier — a vast, beautiful land to be pioneered. An unadulterated landscape to sculpt into something uniquely my own. We don’t have our hands tied by the AMA and pharmaceutical companies. The various modalities of treatment available to us are nearly endless. We can build our own brand of healthcare practically autonomously. It’s a powerful ability. But, as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility; which is what I’ve been reflecting on this past week.

My mother goes to see a chiropractor in Michigan. There are doctors from a few different chiropractic schools that work there. Lately she has been having a lot of back pain that also radiates into the right upper quadrant of her abdomen. Her DC, who attended a school that is not affiliated with NUHS, immediately wrote it off as a fixated segment near her Thoraco-Lumbar Junction and adjusted her. In fact, when the pain didn’t resolve in a few days he adjusted her again…and then again. I didn’t hear about this until after it had happened a few times. Almost reflexively, I grilled her about the exam he performed: Did he palpate, percuss, or auscultate anywhere? Naturally, I was appalled when she answered, “No.” Finally, she went to her internal medicine doctor who immediately ordered a urinalysis. My emotions turned to disgust as she informed me that she had a raging kidney infection — a fairly serious condition that her particular DC wrote off without so much as an exam.

Practicing some palpation skills.

We, as DCs, have the power to treat as we please. It’s a beautiful gift that I’m sure many doctors are jealous of. However, we must have the proper training to wield that power responsibly and wisely. The patients that see us won’t have isolated cases of musculoskeletal issues. We owe it to our patients to be thorough. The more I learn, the happier I am with my choice of school. NUHS is geared towards turning out competent primary care physicians. In light of my mother’s recent issues, I have never been more grateful for the training at NUHS. Sure, the curriculum isn’t perfect, but what we do have is this insanely important skill working for us. 

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Gregory Swets

Gregory Swets


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