One of the most important parts of a preceptorship is the number of patients and scale of patient conditions students are able to treat before they graduate and enter practice. From May to November, NUHS chiropractic graduate Zachary Shasteen, DC, was able to conduct over a thousand patient visits during the preceptorship at the Bay Pines VA (Veterans Affairs) Healthcare System in Florida.
“I gained a ton of knowledge through repetition,” Dr. Shasteen said. “Just the volume of patients that I was able to see throughout the day made the preceptorship well worth it.”
At the Bay Pines VA hospital, there was so much demand for chiropractic care that there was a waiting list of 3-4 weeks for new patients.
“Once patients started seeing good results with chiropractors, especially when other methods were failing, everyone starts to notice,” Dr. Shasteen said.
Dr. Shasteen worked with veterans and active military members of all ages, many of whom were experiencing chronic pain along with back and neck issues and muscle spasms. Additionally, the patients often had several co-morbidities including cancer, myelopathy, chronic pain, long-COVID and cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases.
“I saw firsthand how chiropractic medicine can contribute to their treatment plan and improve a patient’s quality of life,” he said.
After providing his patients with regular adjustments 2-3 times per month, many experienced improvements, particularly in their pain symptoms.
With the emergency room just down the hall from the chiropractic department, along with orthopedic surgeons, neurologists, acupuncturists, and physical and occupational therapists nearby too, Dr. Shasteen worked in a truly multidisciplinary setting.
“Collaborating with other physicians required a deeper understanding of a patient’s whole health along with the wide scope of medical knowledge I gained at NUHS,” he said.
Dr. Shasteen was also able to help homeless veterans, many of whom experience low back pain from sleeping on various surfaces and upper back issues from carrying heavy backpacks. Since they were not able to visit the hospital as often due to transportation issues, Dr. Shasteen provided them with tools like hot and cold packs, foam rollers, therabands, and instructed them on self-care routines.
Dr. Shasteen, who graduated with his Doctor of Chiropractic degree this month, plans to continue working with veterans while also specializing in sports medicine. According to Dr. Shasteen, the existing practice he’s purchasing in Pittsburg will be able to take referrals from the state’s VA network.
With more research coming out about the effectiveness of chiropractic medicine, he’s confident that chiropractic medicine will continue to remain popular among the veteran population.
“Our results speak for themselves,” Dr. Shasteen said.
NUHS currently offers rotations at VA sites in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, North Dakota and Florida, as well as Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.