Let me offer you some advice …

Wow, how time flies. I just finished 8th trimester, and as I write this, I only have two trimesters left as a Palmer student before I venture out into the real world once again.

So you are reading this and probably think that I just want to brag about where I am and that the road ahead looks so very daunting for you, but honestly that is not the case. It really doesn’t seem that long ago when I was in your very shoes thinking to myself that I will never graduate from Palmer. Well, rest assured, many have done it before you and many will do it after you are sitting right where I am.

I think the best advice that I can give to you is to follow your heart and your passion. Palmer is a great chiropractic college, and I love it with all my heart. But it is not for every single individual desiring to become a chiropractor. I would advise you to trust your gut. I didn’t need to visit every school before I knew where I was to go for my education. I visited Palmer in March of 2010 and knew before I left that it was the perfect fit for me. I would recommend that you start with a visit to Palmer, since we are the Fountainhead of chiropractic and where it all began. We are rich in history and tradition, but we are also preparing for the future of our profession. The college is actively making changes to ensure that they offer the best education for the student body and producing the best chiropractors out there.

If you come to Palmer and don’t feel the immediate click that I did, then look at other colleges. The road to becoming a chiropractor is a long and challenging one, but it is very rewarding. My time here at Palmer has flown by, and I say that with all seriousness.

If you have any specific questions that you would like to ask me, feel free to contact me. And if you find yourself in the Quad Cities anytime soon, drop by the college and lets get you adjusted in the Academic Health Center.

Have a great day and best of luck in your future chiropractic endeavors.

-Matt Sharples, 9th Tri, Davenport Campus

Keeping profit in perspective

Today in philosophy class, Dr. Sorgenfrey (the extremities adjusting professor) shared about his experience starting in practice after he graduated. He noted that there are many chiropractic seminars and magazine articles dedicated to helping the practicing chiropractor “get paid.” But, he asked us, isn’t our time and brain power better focused on best patient care and helping people stay healthy?

As I look ahead to graduation in February (2013)—Woot! Woot!—it’s good to be reminded not to get swept up in the entrepreneurial worries. It’s good to keep things in perspective. Present-time consciousness, being thorough, and keeping the end goal in mind (people’s health)­—these are the things I’ll focus on the most.

I’m realizing that in this, as in other higher principles, one needs a little help and community encouragement to keep the main thing the main thing. Fortunately for me, my soon-to-be wife is a passionate chiropractor! I think we’ll keep each other focused. Here’s hopin’.

Vito Spadafino
9th trimester student, Davenport Campus

Q&A with a prospective student

Recently, a prospective student asked me several questions. Because I know that I had several of these same questions when I was looking at chiropractic schools, I will blog about my answers in the weeks to come.

Prospective student question: Do you feel that you get enough nutrition classes to enable you can give excellent nutritional advice to patients? Or is this something I would have to learn more about outside of class?

Answer: I feel that we learn enough of the foundation for making sound nutritional advice.

The biochem classes are taught specifically geared toward nutrition and give you a good understanding of how the body uses what we put into it, including variables such as what it needs after exercise and in what quantities. Those classes are followed by a general nutrition class that gives you basic concepts of nutrition, a toxicology class that focuses a lot on supplements (herbs, vitamins, etc.) and how to see if they are beneficial for certain things or just old wives’ tales.

The final class in the series is a clinical nutrition class that was added a few tris ago, so I didn’t take it. From what I have heard, it is supposed to give you guidelines on how to give nutrition advice clinically.

Will you need to learn more outside of school? It depends on the amount of nutritional advice you want to give. If you are working in a team setting with other healthcare professionals, you will have a full-time nutritionist helping with that. If you are practicing by yourself, you might need some more specific training—but Palmer gives you what you need to be able to look at something and determine if it is good or not.

I believe Palmer’s nutrition curriculum is the most extensive in any chiropractic program and is enough for giving advice to the general population. If it is more complex case, most chiropractors refer to a good, natural nutritionist or another chiropractor with advanced training because they have a lot more training than we could get.

Joe O’Tool
9th trimester student, Davenport Campus

Clinic Abroad in India: Part 3

Blogger’s note: This is the last of three entries about my recent travels during a Palmer Clinic Abroad trip to India, abridged from my journal.

Our first day of clinic at Al-Arif Hospital had been advertised as a “free chiropractic medical camp,” and anyone could register. We saw a huge variety of people, from old to young, and rich to poor. It was a lot different seeing adults than it was seeing children.  As efficient as I tried to be, people had so many complex issues that it was impossible to move quickly.

I saw many bilateral, radiating pain cases that I referred to the medical doctor. I don’t think he did anything for these patients other than prescribe pain meds, though. I only ended up seeing 13 patients this day. We were instructed to hand out our clinic cards to lots of patients, and to encourage them to come back. I was hopeful of seeing some of them again.

Day two of the hospital clinic went a lot better than day one. I adjusted 32 patients. Some were repeat patients, and I was pleased to see that many of them were holding their adjustments.

Some of them were getting relief, but some of them were not. That was frustrating.  A lot of the people had chronic problems that one or two adjustments probably wouldn’t help much.  I gave them home exercises they could do and told them which activities to avoid.

Day three was supposed to be all repeat patients, although we had some new ones, too.  I continued to see improvement in some of my patients.  We were able to get some boys from a local Islamic school, and they were a lot of fun to adjust.

Now that I have spent a couple of days doing adults, I realize how quickly you can get through the kids. I wish we had saved the school for last, because we could have cruised!

I think a lot of the boys thought I was pretty because they would giggle and blush around me. One brave little boy of about six looked up at me and said, “You’re beautiful!” It was pretty cute.  I’m definitely not anything special, but they think anyone with white skin is beautiful. It was a good boost to my self-esteem. I adjusted 31 people that day, for a total of 134 for the trip.

When I went on clinic abroad, I had hopes of changing lives with my adjustments. We all hear the miracle stories of children being carried in and walking out, or patients with a lifetime of pain that is reduced in one adjustment. Of course, while those things do happen occasionally, they are rare cases. I was able to help some people, but many I was not. And the majority of the people I adjusted, well, I will never know whether my services helped because I won’t have a chance to follow up with them.

What I didn’t expect was that the person I would help the most would be my interpreter. She had confided in me that her family abuses her. I reported it to one of our trip coordinators, who looked into the situation more. I found out she has a mild mental disability, and that she had made some choices that her father and grandmother don’t approve of. These choices re big “no-no’s” in their culture.

I hope she is able to regain their confidence in her and have a better future. Based on her progress while I was with her, I think she may be able to do so. She ended up being such a good assistant. She matured so much during the week we were together. She went from being shy and nervous about doing a patient history or exam, to being able to do pretty much everything on her own, except the adjustment. She also improved her English immensely and was much more outgoing. She was so helpful, always willing to assist when I needed her (“Yes, ma’am!”), taking initiative, and never complaining. I realized how important this experience was for all of the interpreters, and how much more prepared they will be for being nurses.  It was very hard to say goodbye to them.

The day after our last clinic day we left for home, a trip that took over 32 hours from the hotel in India to Palmer in Davenport. Coming back to the United States made us realize how many blessings we have here. Even the dirtiest places of Davenport seem very clean now, compared to the nicest places of India.

I am so glad I had the opportunity to experience another culture in such a personal way, by getting to know the people there and contributing to their health.  It was an experience that has helped me to become not only a better chiropractor, but also a better person. I will never forget it.

Alissa Grover
9th trimester student, Davenport Campus

Clinic Abroad in India: Part 2

 Blogger’s note: Following is the second of three entries about my recent travels during a Palmer Clinic Abroad trip to India. It is an abridged version from my journal. Enjoy!

After a few days of sightseeing in New Delhi, we flew to Hyderabad, which is a large city located in central India.  We stayed at a hotel called the Taj Krishna, which is a beautiful, old-fashioned style hotel. We got to meet our interpreters, who are all female nursing students, and give them instructions on how they can help us.  Some of the interpreters had done this in the past, but mine had not.  She was a sweet, but shy, girl and I hoped that she would open up to me more as the week went on.

The next day, Thursday, was our first day of clinic! We went to St. Anne’s Christian School, which is an all girls school. When we got there, students were all lined up in the courtyard: several thousand of them. They had a really nice opening ceremony for us. Some girls sang, other girls danced, their band played, and they gave us all flower leis. It made me cry! Then we got to work.

We were in a very simple classroom with an open window to the busy outside, and Clint (my husband) commented whenever he came in that the exhaust fumes were bad. I must have gotten used to it. I felt that I was moving pretty quickly that day, although I only ended up adjusting 23 girls. We didn’t have a whole lot of clinic time. We went from about 10-3 with a break for lunch.

Day two of clinic was much more efficient. I started to move faster and was able to adjust 36 girls. The fun thing about working with kids is that they don’t usually have any pain, so they are considered “wellness” patients. You pretty much just adjust what you find without having to worry about any complex conditions.

I did have one girl with ankle pain that I got a really good talus adjustment on. It went “pop!” which startled her, and she said it felt much better after.  I also had a girl with low back pain, and she had a pretty bad thoraco-lumbar junction subluxation that also adjusted very easily, and she also felt improved. It was sad to pack up and leave at the end of the day. It was hard to get from the school to the bus. We were all attacked by swarms of “paparazzi”—the girls all asking for our autographs before we left!

On Saturday we had a free day, and a group of us went to Charminar, which is a large shopping bazaar in Hyderabad.  We ended up spending the majority of the day there, and I purchased a tailor-made sari and kurtha (a type of women’s dress suit) for myself and my sister. We also purchased an ethnic Indian outfit for my husband.  It will be fun to have those to wear to costume parties or out to Indian restaurants in the states.

I think my favorite part of this day was riding the auto rickshaw. Traffic in India is crazy! The only traffic law is to stop at a red light, and they don’t have many lights. In general they drive on the left side of the road (British style), but lane lines are just a suggestion. They basically use the rules of walking for driving. Crossing at intersections and turning were pretty interesting. They just weave in and out of cross traffic like a game of Frogger.

The rides were also a way to see more of the city. There was a barber by the side of the road, the little stands where rickshaw drivers would buy gas in plastic bottles, and water buffalo wandering by. The worst part was the exhaust and polluted air rushing into your face.

The next three days we had a clinic in a hospital called Al-Arif.  Stay tuned for the third (and last) part of my tale.

Alissa Grover
9the trimester student, Davenport Campus

Clinic Abroad in India: Part 1

Blogger’s note: This is the first of three entries about my recent travels during a Palmer Clinic Abroad trip to India. It is an abridged version from my journal. I hope you enjoy it!

After an entire trimester of preparing, we finally left on June 16 for a 12-day trip to India. A total of 30 students from the Davenport, Florida, and West campuses are on the trip, with 4 faculty doctors, one of whom is my husband!  (Lucky me!)

We took a bus to the Chicago O’Hare airport, then flew to Delhi with a 2-hour stop in Frankfurt, Germany.  It was supposed to be a nonstop flight, but Air India is having a strike right now and their employees won’t do trips over a certain length. So we did a re-staffing, re-stocking, and cleaning stop. 

The only unfortunate thing was that we were not allowed off the plane, and it added several more hours of travel time. Our total time on the plane was somewhere between 17-18 hours. Thankfully, the plane had plenty of leg room, personal TVs at each seat with lots of movies to watch, and excellent food. We were served a dinner, breakfast, lunch, and then another dinner on the flight, and it consisted mostly of Indian food. It was nice to sleep and watch movies and eat, and the time went pretty quickly.

We arrived in New Delhi about 7 a.m. their time, which is 10-1/2 hours past Central Time.  Needless to say, it was a relief to get off the plane, gather our things, and take our first step onto Indian soil: hot Indian soil!  That day it had reached around 110 degrees, and the ground was still radiating heat, even though it was getting dark out.

It seemed to take almost an hour to get to the hotel because traffic was so crazy!  People drive on the left-hand side of the road here, like in England, but it is seriously a free-for-all. Lanes are just a suggestion.  Cars, rickshaws, bikes, motorcycles, people, dogs, all on the road and honking and going every which-way! We saw one motorcycle with a family of five or six on it—none with helmets, of course—and the youngest being no older than 2. There were lots of people walking around everywhere, and people sleeping everywhere.

Upon arrival to our hotel, we were greeted with fresh fruit juice and another dinner. We definitely were well-fed!  Our hotel is really nice—a 5-star, European-style, very modern and hip-looking place.  The food is fabulous, and the dessert bar is like a dream come true. My plate usually consists of about half food and half desserts, and then I eat several pieces of naan. Yum!

Our first day in India, we did some guided sightseeing and a city tour of Delhi.  There were lots of old historical buildings, some medieval-period ruins, and mosques. We got to walk around in one large mosque, which is a place of prayer for Muslims, and we had to wear booties on our feet and wear long-sleeved, floor-length dresses to cover our skin. The men wrapped a type of sheet around their legs.

There were many homeless people just sitting around and sleeping inside the mosque, and we saw many beggars. Then we saw the memorial where Mahatma Ghandi is interred. It was part of a big, beautiful park with lots of greenery—a nice respite from the busy city.  We also drove by “Old Delhi”, which is the older district of Delhi. It looked like an extremely run-down and over-crowded version of the New Orleans French Quarter.

Our second day in India, we took a 2-hour train ride to Agra, a city that is southeast of Delhi.  Our destination in Agra was the Taj Mahal, probably the most well-known landmark in India. The Taj Mahal was built by a previous ruler of India as a mausoleum for his beloved wife, who died giving birth to their 14th child.  It is even more magnificent and beautiful in person than in any photograph.  There are no visible buildings, wires, or other indications of modern development surrounding the Taj Mahal, so you feel as though you have gone to another world. We spent several hours walking around the grounds and inside the Taj Mahal.  There were many Indians here who asked for us to take pictures with them. It is a big honor for Indians to be in photographs with Americans. They believe it will bring them good luck, so we found ourselves posing with many of them. It made me feel like a celebrity!

After the Taj Mahal, we visited a marble craft shop where they make beautiful hand-crafted table-tops, chess sets, vases, wall hangings, and many other things by inlaying precious stones into marble.  We got to watch them work and also had the opportunity to buy pieces.  They were very expensive, but a few members of our group bought small tables, and my husband and I bought a small piece of marble with an image of the Taj Mahal inlayed with mother of pearl.  Next we went to a carpet-making shop for the same opportunity.  Our day ended with a dinner and magic show at an Indian restaurant, and then we made the 2-hour trip back to Delhi.

The day after our trip to the Taj Mahal, we flew to Hyderabad, a city in the central part of India.  That’s where we spent the rest of our trip and had our clinic.

Please stay tuned for my next blog for the continuation of my tale.

Alissa Grover
9th trimester student, Davenport Campus

Getting ready for practice

So I cannot believe I’m at the end of 9th trimester already! My wife and I recently returned from a trip to buy a house in South Carolina, where we are moving.  Soon I will begin an internship with my preceptor, Chris Beckwith, D.C. in Moline, Ill.

I’ve also been taking some courses with the Carrick Institute for Chiropractic Neurology and look forward to seeing some more chiropractic neurology in practice with him.  Just one more trimester until graduation. I can’t wait to get started on my practice!

Elliot Hirshorn
9th trimester student, Davenport Campus

Ready. Set. Go!!!

My blog will chronicle my adventures in Mississippi as I intern with a Doctor of Chiropractic in a Veteran’s Affairs Hospital.  I do this so that friends and family may keep a pulse on what I am up to in the south and also so that future recipients of this internship can have an idea of what to expect and become aware of special issues that may present themselves.  I plan to post once a week, most likely each Sunday.  So hold on….here we go!

I applied for the VA/DOD internship program in 7th trimester for many reasons:

  1. I felt the experience would be invaluable for my growth as a healthcare provider by allowing me to see a broader spectrum of issues that patients may present with and giving me a taste of what real life practice could be.
  2. I have worked in the hospital setting before and am familiar/comfortable with that type of setting.
  3. I feel that providing chiropractic care in a hospital setting is an amazing service to patients and hope to see this trend spread throughout the nation.
  4. I have a pipe dream of practicing chiropractic on the military base in Seoul Korea so that my boyfriend Kyle and I can broaden our knowledge of Tae Kwon Do.

The application process involves an initial interview with the program director at Palmer, Dr. Schrad, and then you wait until a spot opens up at one of the various sites around the country.  If a spot opens, you then interview with the DC at that site and are possibly chosen after that.  I passed the initial screening interview and my name was put in the applicant pool for all of the DCs to choose from when a spot opens.  After that, I didn’t hear from any of the DCs for 9 months!  Just as I was accepting the fact that I probably was not chosen to go to any of the sites, I was notified that I had two interviews (one for Texas and one for Mississippi) during the week of homecoming at Palmer.  So amidst the whirlwind of homecoming, I met with Dr. Pavalock of the Mississippi site for an interview and a day or two later was officially notified of my acceptance!

Since finding out that I was accepted, I have been on a mad scramble to get ready to leave.  The first obstacle was finding a place to live in the area, as housing is not provided through the program but helpful suggestions are provided by Dr. Schrad.  After a solid week of leaving countless messages and receiving many calls reporting lack of vacancies, I hit the jack pot and was able to find a lady renting a room and attached bathroom in her condo near the VA.  The place is fully furnished so I only have to pack clothes, school stuff, and toiletries…thank goodness.

The next obstacle was making sure I had all of my clinic requirements finished up to pass this trimester as well as finish up any pending paperwork I may have had.  This trimester is scheduled to end October 20th with finals scheduled for the 14th -20th BUT I was scheduled to start in Mississippi on October 12th…so I scrambled to finish up all of my assignments for each class and I re-arranged my finals so that I took them all the 1st week of October.  I also had to track down my vaccination records and have a tuberculosis PPD test performed and read to take with me to the VA for their records.

As if all of that was not enough, a year ago in November I started a Tae Kwon Do club at Palmer which has grown rapidly and turned into more than I ever envisioned it being.  Since finding out in August that I was leaving for my 10th trimester I have been preparing the club to be passed to the next leaders.  This process has included writing a constitution; electing an executive committee; organizing all of the club documents; outlining procedures for intake of new members, testing, and ordering supplies; making sure the next head instructor knows the material members need to learn to be able to test; and sharing my vision of the club with the new executive committee and the club advisor.

Whew!  I think that pretty much sums up my journey towards this amazing experience so far.  Thank you for reading.  My next post will likely be towards the end of October after I have made it to Mississippi and gotten a few days under my belt in the VA.

Alicia Ruiz, 9th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus


I am now in 9th tri and just a few short months away from being unleashed upon the world as a doctor of chiropractic.  Amidst the seemingly endless lessons I have learned at Palmer, one unspoken principle has been demonstrated and reinforced over and over since the beginning of my journey in Davenport is this: Balance.

The first year of the PCC-Davenport curriculum is packed with the basic science classes.  Through classes such as cell physiology, biochemistry, gross and spinal anatomy, I learned the intricacies of balance within each living cell of our bodies.  I learned the balance of energy production and utilization, along with the balance between our neurological system and muscular system.  I learned how important balance is to everything we do in life from the most simple, such as breathing, to the most complex such as conscious thought.  Outside of class, I learned to balance 30+ credit hours, studying, open labs, sleeping, making new friends (part of which involved becoming a member of the world’s oldest chiropractic organization, the Sigma Phi Chi Sorority), and adapting to a new area of the country and a new city.  While I lived in the largest city in Montana during my undergraduate years (about 90,000 people), moving to the quad cities area of about 400,000 people was still an adjustment (pun not intended).  My first Midwest winter was nothing short of a system shock and I think I called home every week with a new eye witness description of weather accounts!  P.S. Freezing rain is something you would never believe until you see it, it is beautiful!

In my second year of Palmer, learning patient assessment became more of the focus with classes in physical diagnosis, radiology, orthopedic testing and chiropractic evaluation/techniques.  Through these, I learned the balance of using knowledge of anatomy and proper function to gain information from the body.  I learned the balance between doing a quick exam and still doing a thorough exam without cutting corners.  I learned how to balance x-ray spinographic analysis and instrumentation with what patients physically present with.  Outside of the classroom I had lessons in balancing relationships and school.  I learned that as rigorous as the curriculum was, I still needed to spend time with the people I love and care for and to make sure they knew they were still an important part of my life.  I learned to balance extra-curricular activities as well.  I joined the Campus Guides organization on campus through which my understanding of the history of chiropractic and the significance of our campus as the fountainhead of chiropractic was deepened and enriched.  Coming from a medical background previously before Palmer, I often had many internal struggles with how my new view on healthcare fit into my definition of healthcare and I had to learn how to let go of my qualms with some of the extreme viewpoints out there in chiropractic and accept that my model of chiropractic is just as valid as anyone else’s.  I learned that while I have been exposed to many different viewpoints on what chiropractic is, what it is not, and how it should be utilized, I do not have to take any of those viewpoints as dogma.  Chiropractic philosophy comes from within just as innate does.  You don’t have to build it, it is already there – you only have to find it within yourself.

The third year is the transition from classroom to clinic.  This portion of the curriculum has been the most eye-opening for me.  Now, I am learning to balance being a technician with being a doctor.  I am learning to connect the dots between my basic science classes (such as anatomy), patient presentation, and how I will treat that patient based upon those two factors.  I am learning when to talk to patients and when to shut my mouth, observe and listen.  I am learning to talk with patients and not at them.  I am learning to think on my feet about what the patient is presenting with as they describe it and how I will narrow down the growing list of differentials in my head while still paying attention to what the patient tells me verbally and physically.  The most impactful lesson I am learning now is to trust the knowledge and skills I have acquired the last two years and to be more confident in myself and my abilities.  Outside of class I am learning to reconnect with the world and get out of student mode.  I am learning to open doors and make opportunities for myself and my future.  And I am learning to balance my ultimate goals and ambitions with the process that is needed to achieve them.

So back to this concept of balance and what I have learned here at Palmer College of Chiropractic…Chiropractic seeks to restore balance within the body so that balance outside of the body may be achieved.  Don’t forget that as you plow through your years at Palmer.  Remember to play, laugh, love and relax; otherwise no matter how “well adjusted” you are, you are wasting the gift your innate is giving you.

Alicia Ruiz, 9th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus

My road to Palmer

Hi!  My name is Alicia Ruiz and I am a 9th trimester student at Palmer – Davenport. I am 28 years old and from the “Big Sky State” more commonly known as Montana.

I do not have a chiropractic miracle story. I made the decision to attend chiropractic school with no previous experience of chiropractic. I was initially on track to become a surgeon.  After high school and through undergrad, I worked as a Certified Nurse Assistant in a nursing home and on a post-operative medical/surgical floor of a hospital as part of my preparation for the field I wanted to enter. I loved patient care and interacting with patients (even the grumpy ones) but I felt that the quality of life of the staff at the hospital was terrible. Most of the staff from doctors to nurses to care managers to nurse assistants, and even the cleaning crews seemed highly stressed and miserable which in turn impacted the experiences the patients were receiving on the floor. After a few years, I decided I needed to get out of that environment but still wanted to work in healthcare so I started searching for other avenues.

My boyfriend mentioned that in high school a Palmer representative had visited his school and that he thought chiropractic would be something he might like to pursue. I started researching this thing called chiropractic and Palmer with the intent of finding out what he needed to start the program but as I learned the basic premise behind chiropractic, I felt something resonate deep within me and knew that it fit. I talked to my boyfriend about it and he encouraged me to apply to Palmer. While waiting for an answer from Palmer, I shadowed two chiropractors in my city that were Palmer graduates and grilled them for information about chiropractic and about the school and I also received my very first chiropractic adjustment!

They told me about how the body has an amazing ability to heal itself, that it is always working to maintain balance both internally and externally, and how chiropractic seeks to assist the body in keeping this equilibrium for the optimal health of the individual. One side note about me is that I practice taekwondo and have for many years. While this may seem unrelated, it truly was one of the biggest factors in my decision to pursue chiropractic. In martial arts, practitioners strive to achieve balance in mind, body, and spirit. Martial arts Masters and instructors strive to help their students realize this balance and maintain it for the good of the student and the good of society. Doctors of chiropractic strive to help their patients achieve physiologic balance within their bodies, which in turn impacts their mental and spiritual balance. So to me, the philosophies of chiropractic and martial arts are one in the same and reaching for the same goal which is to build a better individual and ultimately a better world.

And so it was done, I received my acceptance to Palmer 6 months before I was to attend.  I notified work, family, and friends of my choice and in October of 2008 my boyfriend and I packed all that we had in a U-Haul and took off for some place we called “Couch” (Davenport) Iowa through the worst snow storm Montana had seen in years! That was only the beginning of my adventure…

Alicia Ruiz, 9th Trimester Student
Davenport Campus