Thomas Clark, DC (’78) is an international leader in the field of musculoskeletal ultrasound. He travels an average of 700 miles each day training medical professionals around the world in this cutting-edge diagnostic modality. In a return to his roots, he is now training faculty at his alma mater, National University of Health Sciences, in how to use its new diagnostic ultrasound unit.
During his years at National, Clark helped faculty establish the school’s research department. He also co-authored one of the department’s first research papers to be published in an external journal. With a strong background in physics, he also taught X-ray physics classes while still a student.
After graduation, he moved to San Diego where he ran a successful chiropractic practice for over 22 years. With 13 employees, and integrative co-management of cases with MDs and orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Clark’s practice often saw as many as 70 patients per day.
However the seeds to even more success were sown in 1991, when Dr. Clark attended his first lecture on musculoskeletal ultrasound at a meeting of the Los Angeles Radiology Society. The speaker allowed him to try his hand at using the equipment. With Clark’s extensive anatomy training from National, and his keen eye-to-hand coordination, he amazed the entire audience by deftly navigating both shoulder and spine anatomy with the ultrasound. Such skills are usually honed only after many years of training.
That meeting began a 22-year journey that made Dr. Thomas Clark today’s leading expert in musculoskeletal ultrasound. Most of the physicians he trains are MDs and DOs. Although he feels that musculoskeletal ultrasound could open vast new horizons for the chiropractic profession, relatively few of those seeking his expertise are currently DCs. Working with the diagnostic imaging faculty at NUHS is part of Dr. Clark’s efforts to change that.
“Chiropractic physicians are ideal candidates to lead in this technology, due to their extensive training in musculoskeletal anatomy and their training in using their hands for treatment and tactile palpation,” says Dr. Clark.
Musculoskeletal ultrasound offers many advantages over conventional X-ray and magnetic resonance imaging. It has zero radiation exposure, and can pinpoint finer details as well as the exact three-dimensional location of injury and damage to joints and surrounding tissues.
Dr. Clark has worked with a wide range of medical professionals in organizations and hospitals around the world. He has great advice for DC students and physicians in forging a successful career. “We DCs tend to isolate ourselves, and that is a mistake. If you’re starting a practice and you hear about a nearby meeting for orthopedic surgeons, go! Introduce yourself and share your expertise. You’ll find that other physicians are eager and willing to work with you if you get yourself out there.”