Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Take on "Chiropractic Mission" Trips

This post may end up being slightly controversial but it's a subject that is dear to me.  As you know by now, my passion lies within serving the international community so one may automatically assume I'm a fan of chiropractic mission trips? Right? Well... you'd be wrong.

For those of you who do not know what I'm referring to, chiropractic mission trips are trips that are focused on traveling somewhere and adjusting/treating the masses gratis.  The idea behind these, I do support however it is how they are organized, who they are marketed to and the service/disservice that they do, is what forms my opinions.

Throughout my chiropractic education, I've heard tens of stories from students who have gone on these trips. These are my conclusions:

1.  They are not recruited out of a mindset of service but out of a want to travel and experience culture.
2.  No adjusting skills are necessary "we'll teach it to you".
3.  They serve one area for a day or two and no one will ever return to continue care.
4.  The companies who coordinate these trips, make money out of exploiting students.

The students who come back from these trips regale in their long days, adjusting hundreds of people and the boost in their adjusting skills.  Which is fine, they are utterly excited about their experiences and FINALLY feel ready to enter clinic.  But I ask you, why aren't these students focused on honing their craft with their peers and professors? Why do they feel the need to "practice" on unknowing people in an exotic location somewhere?  I believe this misstep to be unprofessional and borderline dangerous.

Or this?

The key is that these students feel theses trips makeup in what they think their institution lacks.  Heck, if you put in front of me the options to go to Peru or to sit in a lab for hours, weeks, months, years to perfect my art.  I'd probably choose Peru too! But what about all of the things you learn from being in the lab for hours? Perseverance, Collaboration, Hard Work, Dedication? Why are we short changing ourselves?

In the mission trip option instance, the patient is the last thing they are considering.  In our field, the patient comes first! To be a successful healthcare practitioner, this is how your mindset must be.  Why aren't we of that mindset when we first step foot into our educational career?  I'm not sure.  Some will argue that being adjusted once is better than never being adjusted at all.  I think that's cruel!  These patients experience a glimpse of hope, perhaps pain-free movement for the first time in Lord knows how long and then you're just going to leave?

IF a "Chiropractic Mission Trip" is a must then at least do it in an area where you can refer them to an office.  Or better yet, GO SERVE THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY and actually make a difference!  Set up a clinic and make cultural impact, don't drop in for a few days just so you can have a resume booster.  It's irresponsible and unprofessional. Rant over.


Hello everyone!

Just wanted to give a quick update, I spent all of my 2013 summer in Ghana, West Africa completing my final internship under the guidance of Dr. Bryan Cox at The Spinal Clinic.  The experience was more than I ever could have asked for and I am too excited to return and get some larger things started!

My typical Sunday in Ghana, on the beach!
From the awesome experience, I graduated from Life University in September holding the clinic record for adjustments.  To explain that a bit, we don't count total number of adjustments, we count each person in their entirety as one adjustment (no matter how many segments you addressed).  I graduated with over 1,600 making me one extremely experienced new graduate :)

Graduation with my parents and grandparents
I was also extremely blessed with the Student Organization Leader of the Year Award from the Life University first ever Student Services Awards.  I have been blessed to serve the best WCCS Chapter in leadership positions.  Nothing I do, would mean anything without them and their support.

I am still serving the World Congress of Chiropractic Students (wccsworldwide.org) on the Board of Directors and in various capacities.  I am so in love with this organization and all that it offers.  Through my service I have been lucky enough to attend the CCE (cce-usa.org) USDE re-accreditation hearing in December of last year and most recently the National Chiropractic Legislative Conference (it's still my favorite to attend in the United States).  In a few weeks I'll be heading to Malaga, Spain for our 36th Annual General Meeting.  I can't wait to see our members and feel the passion that we all share.

The WCCS Americas Region in Durban, South Africa 2013

Cancer: Everything Happens for a Reason

I've had this particular entry sitting in my drafts for several years now, I think it's time that I publish it (unedited from it's original draft form).

For the first time in quite a while, I am at a loss for words on how to start writing this blog. Let me start by saying that I wake up every morning for my patients. I love each and every one of them dearly and strive every day to make their lives better, they have all become like family to me now whether that's because I'm young and naive or it's a normal feeling that doctors have for their patients, I'm not sure.

This week has opened my eyes up to a grander plan, allowing me to share this once in a lifetime case with you.

A 72 year old female presented to clinic the day after Thanksgiving (I'll never forget the day, I had complained about having the Black Friday shift for weeks, my family came out to Missouri to bring Thanksgiving to me since I would have missed it otherwise). She came in alongside her husband after taking several months off from care. She had no major complaints, just knew that she could use an adjustment. She is in perfect health EXCEPT for the fibrosarcoma on her right distal humerus (arm just above the elbow). Her soft-tissue fibrosarcoma (meaning within the muscles and fascia instead of within the bone) was about half as long as her humerus and protruded about 2-3 inches from her arm. It was an inflammed, heat-generating mass that ulcerated. Being that I'm well on my way to becoming a chiropractor, this was the case of a lifetime, how often are these seen in practice? Hardly ever. I worked her up and she come in every other week for about a month until she started having horrendous low back pain of insidious (unknown) onset. Radiographs were instantly obtained to r/o (rule out) metastasis. The radiographs suggested osteolytic (bone-destructing) lesion in her sacrum.... which means metastasis from the fibrosarcoma in her arm to the sacrum because as we all know, there are types of cancers that spread. Unfortunately, this patient passed away before I could inform her of this new progression...

There will be Doctors of Chiropractic that will tell you outlandish claims in regards to healing cancer.  My friends, colleagues and readers I offer you this:  It is not our place, as the health care practitioner to make these claims (whether we believe them or not), it is our job to facilitate the health of these patients whether it's only pain management or not.  The outpouring of love I was received at her funeral was unreal.  As a student, I felt completely inadequate while overseeing her care, she apparently felt otherwise.