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Meet Sports Medicine Expert Dr. Jennifer Illes

Dr . IllesDr. Jennifer Illes, interim associate dean and clinical science instructor at National University's Florida campus, is also a chiropractic sports medicine expert.  "National University is a great choice for students interested in sports medicine. Our Florida campus offers other experienced leaders in the field, like Dr. Tim Stark and Dr. Carlo Guadagno, and a great student club focused on sports medicine."

Originally from Ontario, Canada, Jennifer Illes got involved in sports medicine as a young girl after she was injured playing tennis at the national level. She saw a chiropractic physician with a diplomate in chiropractic sports medicine and got better instantly.

"I actually shadowed him through high school," says Dr. Illes. "He told me that if I really wanted to be a chiropractic sports physician, I should go to chiropractic college and also get both active release technique (ART) and acupuncture certification. He said that if I could do all that, I could come back and work for him, which is exactly what I did."

"In chiropractic school, I took a sports medicine elective, and did lots of volunteer work at sports events as an intern," she says. "I earned my ART certificate, studied acupuncture during school, and even received a doctorate in acupuncture from McMaster University."

After her graduation, she returned to her hometown and worked with the same DC who'd offered her a job many years before. During those five years she had the chance to work with professional teams such as the Toronto Blue Jays and the Toronto Maple Leafs, as well as everything from Olympic athletes to high school teams. "I would work with athletes 3 or 4 days out of 7, and had a regular practice seeing mostly geriatric patients the rest of the time."

Before coming to National University, Dr. Illes travelled both nationally and internationally giving seminars in elastic therapeutic taping technique, as well as teaching seminars on treating the shoulder, the knee, and on other key topics in the field of sports medicine. In 2009, she joined the faculty at National's Florida campus, and teaches a course in medical genomics as well as various class lectures in soft tissue techniques.

She has some wise advice for students interested in a chiropractic sports medicine career. "Many people think that they'll graduate from chiropractic school and get a big job with a big team right away.  That's not really likely. I didn't get where I did in sports medicine because I was lucky: it's because I worked hard, was passionate about it, put my time in, and happened to know somebody who helped me get into my position," she says. "In this business, who you know counts.  You get connections through shadowing people and putting in the volunteer work."

Dr. Illes also believes that the best preparation for a sports physician is an emphasis in primary care. "The mission of this university is to train primary care physicians," she says. "Students shouldn't think that sports medicine is separate from primary care."

"I'm a sports doc who emphasizes primary care. Heart and lung exams are very important in my medical work with athletes. If someone gets a concussion on the field, you'd better know how to diagnose it, how to take a cranial exam, blood pressure and how to manage that patient. People hear 'sports medicine' and they think we do massages and sports tape, but its much more than that. That's why an education from National provides the best possible training for a future chiropractic sports physician."






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