44 credit hours…yikes!

One of the most common questions I get asked by prospective students when I’m giving my tours is some variation of “What is it like taking 30 credit hours a trimester?  How do you do it?”  My answer is that it’s like being in high school again.  Most people went to high schools where they had 7-8 classes a day, about 50 minutes each, with 5 minutes of passing time in between.  Yep, that’s Palmer too.  With a few differences, of course.  They are usually relieved to hear that there’s a lot less homework and assignments at Palmer, mostly just studying for exams, practicals, and the occasional quizzes.  Not to say that you won’t be busy, but it’s definitely doable.  Lets face it; this is a graduate school program to become a doctor.  You don’t exactly expect or even want it to be easy.  But hundreds of people graduate from Palmer every year, and they got through it—so can you!

That being said, it was a bit of a shock for me when I logged onto the Portal this trimester (our school website where we can view our schedule and grades) and saw that I am registered for 44 credit hours!  That’s definitely a record setter for me.  Don’t worry, 44 credit hours isn’t “normal”, even at Palmer—12 of those hours are elective hours that I voluntarily signed up for.

During the break between trimesters I took the Activator elective, where we learn the basics of Activator adjusting.  The Activator is a handheld instrument that delivers a specific, low force adjustment (often called a “pogo stick”, “thumper” or “clicker” by patients).  It involves protocols where the doctor checks the comparative lengths of the patient’s legs while playing “Simon says” with the patient (not really, but they’ll have the patient do things like “Put your left arm above your head”, “Shrug your shoulders”, and “Push your forehead into the table”, for example).  The actions that the patient performs isolates specific spinal segments and causes a change in leg length if that area is misaligned and needs to be adjusted.  It’s a pretty neat technique and a popular elective for students at Palmer to take.

Every Tuesday and Thursday evening for the first half of the trimester I’m taking the Thompson elective, which is a technique that utilizes the segmental drop table.  Dr. Thompson was a Palmer grad who developed the table and adapted existing adjusting techniques for use with the table.  The drop mechanism increases the speed of the adjustment so you don’t have to use as high of a force.

For four weekends during this trimester, all day Saturday and half of Sunday, I’m taking the NUCCA elective.  NUCCA stands for the National Upper Cervical Chiropractic Association.  NUCCA practitioners specialize in looking at the atlas, the top cervical vertebra in the spine, by taking a series of films that allows them to analyze the alignment of the atlas and formulate a specific listing for correcting that misalignment.  The adjustment is done with the hands and is very low force.  NUCCA is one of several “upper cervical specific” techniques that believe the atlas is the most important bone in the body to correct.  The atlas surrounds the brainstem, and in the brainstem is the reticular formation, which is the control center that causes muscles in the body to extend.  When the atlas is misaligned by even millimeters, it can put pressure on the brainstem and cause muscles along the spine to contract, and thus other bones to misalign, nerves to be irritated, and symptoms to appear.  Correcting the atlas goes to the source of the problem and relieves the pressure on the brainstem, thus allowing the rest of the spine—and body—to correct itself.  There are some who find it hard to believe that the atlas is the main place in the body that can be the source of so many symptoms, but upper cervical doctors have done a lot of research and get great results with their patients.  If this interests you, I encourage you to read the book “what TIME, tuesday?” by James Tomasi about how a NUCCA adjustment saved his life.

So while Palmer keeps us busy with classes and electives, that’s one of the things that makes it such a great school.  I feel so lucky that we can learn so many adjusting techniques, not only in the curriculum, but also as electives.  In several of the electives I’ve taken, students and graduates from other chiropractic colleges have been in the classes taking them too because they weren’t offered at their colleges.  There’s something for everyone at Palmer, whether you plan to adjust full spine, upper cervical specific, subluxation-based, tonal, hands-only, with an instrument….and if you have no idea what any of those things mean, that’s okay too, because you’ll learn—after 30+ credit hours a trimester, you’d certainly hope so!

Alissa Grover, 7th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus

As the Holiday season approaches…

With the holiday season here I want to take a few moments to look over the last year.  I realize that I have learned so much in a short time and that I am almost halfway through my chiropractic education.  When looking back on the time I have spent at Palmer so far I realize that I have grown a lot as a person and am starting to grow into the doctor I will become!  Another awesome part of the holiday season is that I get time to go home to spend quality time with my family.  This also means that I can share all the amazing things I have learned with them in hopes that it can help them with their health.  The education I am receiving at Palmer is top notch and I couldn’t ask for anything better.

Also, as the holidays approach it is nice to know we have a two week break from school.  The break is timed perfectly so that students can recharge the batteries and come back in the new year ready to rock.  One thing I have always believed is that everyone needs time for themselves, including students.  One thing I can emphasize to perspective and currents students is to take time to enjoy yourself and give your brain a break. This doesn’t mean neglect studying 🙂 just take a break once and a while!  So go home and enjoy the break!

See you all in the new year!

Stephanie Tronnes, 5th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus

Sixth Trimester

Now that we’re really into the trimester, classes are starting to get more in depth. This tri is full of breaks but I am still undecided if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s nice to have breaks during the trimester to get your head on straight and see family for a little while. It’s also hard to keep focused on classes and tests that you have after break. Last year was my first time having winter break be a break and not the end of a semester. It was something to get use to that was for sure. I learned to manage my time between family and friends and studying a little as well. It seemed to work out quite well.

Now that I am in my 6th trimester, I am getting more hands on with technique courses. It is exciting and scary to know that next trimester I enter into the student clinic. There are days when I feel like I know what I am doing so then it’s an exciting day. Other days I feel like I have no idea what is going on; which worries me about having to treat patients in about three or four months. I know by the end of this trimester my teachers will have prepared me to the best of their abilities to see patients. When I started Palmer I felt as though I would never get into the clinic as an intern. I’m finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s approaching too quickly. The unknown can be exciting. Clinic is the true test of how much I have absorbed during my classes so far.

Christa Scheffler, 6th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus

Allow me to introduce myself…

Hello all! My name is Stephanie Tronnes and I am a current 5th trimester student at Palmer. I am from a small town in Wisconsin called Edgerton, which is about 25 miles south of Madison.

The beginning of my chiropractic experiences started at a young age, actually before I can remember.  My parents took me to the chiropractor when I was a baby because I was suffering from ear infections.  Luckily the chiropractor was able to ease my ear infections and prevent me from having to get tubes.  I continued to go to the chiropractor on a somewhat regular basis from then on.  All of my experiences with my chiropractor were amazing, and this made my decision to become a chiropractor clear!

Once the decision to become a chiropractor was made, it came to deciding on which school I would go to.  After some conversations with my chiropractor and family it was an easy decision!  Palmer was the only place for me, and I am LOVING it here!

I am also very excited to share with you that my fiancé, Zach, recently graduated from Palmer and will start work soon!  Watching him graduate and start his journey as a new Doctor has been an amazing experience and makes me all the more excited to continue my journey at Palmer!

Stephanie Tronnes, 5th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus

Outside the classroom

One of my favorite opportunities I have as a Palmer student is the incredible number of clubs and organizations that we have access to. There are clubs for specific sports and activities that give you the opportunity to meet people with similar interests as you, there are clubs that represent different states and countries that students come from that give you the opportunity to meet people from your home town or maybe that are interested in moving to your home state, and there is a club for every adjusting technique I could ever think of! These adjusting clubs provide you with an opportunity to meet other Palmer students both in your trimester and in trimesters above you. These students are great resources for encouragement, as well as advice, early on in the D.C. program to help you maximize your time at Palmer and to help you become the best doctor you could possibly be. It is also a great way to be exposed to some chiropractic philosophy, palpation, and different adjusting techniques early on so that you can begin to discover what works best for you and start to develop those skills early on.

I jumped right into these clubs first trimester and couldn’t be happier with that decision. Having moved here from across the country, (Seattle, WA!! 🙂 and not knowing anyone with 1000 miles, participating in these clubs helped me meet other like-minded students that have since become some of my best friends here in Iowa. Getting involved early has also challenged me, built my confidence with each trimester, and expanded my education – all of these things I know will benefit me greatly both with the rest of my time as a student here at Palmer and down the road in my future practice.

Many new and prospective students share their concern with me about having the time to come to the different technique clubs in the midst of the full class load and I tell all of them, yes you are busy with school and studying and establishing yourself in this new environment, but what you gain from these organizations and the people involved in them far outweighs the one to two hours a week you give up to be there. Also, it’s a fun break from sitting in the classroom or studying textbooks, to actually interact with people and get some hands on learning time. There are so many to choose from, you are sure to find one that will be perfect for you!

I am a member of three campus organizations and love nothing more than welcoming new members to these groups and encouraging them in the same way I was when I started!

Devanni Partridge, 4th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus

Thanksgiving post

It was a short week due to the Thanksgiving break but quite busy.  I attempted to cross the hurdle of having a discussion with a patient about his weight and low back pain.  It was a new patient, so I was able to do the evaluation in “my office” without supervision.  Dr. Pavalock was busy working on something in his office and Abbey had a ton of paperwork to catch up on.  I was able to talk with the patient about the impact of being overweight on the biomechanics of the spine and how that contributes to low back pain/disc degeneration and the talk went pretty well…if you ignore the fact that the patient was face down on the table and I was palpating his back at the time, hahaha-sheesh.  One small step I suppose.  I’ll get over my hesitance soon.

The interesting case of the week was a patient with Superior Semicircular Canal Dehiscence (SSCD), a condition in which a small portion of bone (usually 1-5 mm) is missing from the skull in the inner ear area.  Symptoms can include but are not limited to dizziness, hearing loss and nystagmus. This patient has had surgery to plug the hole which resolved the constant dizziness but since then they have relapsed. The patient states that they knew exactly when the plug fell out as the dizziness returned immediately and has been constant since. The patient is scheduled for a new surgery consult to re-plug the hole.  Otherwise they are in good health and came by for a “tune up”. We adjusted the patient with no effect on the dizziness but it was an interesting condition to hear about.  For further information on SSCD click on: http://otosurgery.org/sscd_definition.htm

On Tuesday Dr. P, Abbey, and I were all invited up to the Post Deployment Clinic’s thanksgiving potluck which was very delicious and it was fun to meet the various nurses, doctors, and receptionists that work there; two of which have come down and visited us in our clinic a few times previously.

Wednesday through Sunday, I was in South Carolina visiting family. While I was there we watched Breaking Dawn part 1 in the theater…yup, I’m a “twi-hard.” Go Team Edward!  We walked around downtown Charleston and experienced the market there, somewhat like the Seattle fish market.  It was full of amazing arts, crafts, food, and pictures.  I went on my first ever plantation tour of the Magnolia plantation, which is world renowned for its garden, very beautiful.  We also went on a horse-drawn carriage tour of downtown Charleston and learned about the history of the city from being founded through the revolutionary and civil wars.  It was a fun and informative tour and Charleston is a beautiful city.  I was very thankful to spend the holiday with family.

Now a new week begins.  Thanks for reading and I’ll write again soon. 🙂

Alicia Ruiz, 10th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus