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