Great students make great doctors
By Kevin Wong, DC
When most of us begin our chiropractic education, we have come from a college or university. Chiropractic school is essentially graduate course work for a vocation you will hopefully be doing for many years to come.
While it is important to keep your head in the books and study hard, you also need to understand that your eventual goal is the practice of chiropractic.
Once you leave chiropractic school, you enter a world of taking care of people. All patients care about is how you can get them well. They will assume you have passed your classes and are qualified to be taking care of them.
The mentality you have coming into chiropractic college sets the tone for the type of doctor you will become. You have heard that “what you put in is what you get out.” That is exactly what goes on during your academic years at chiropractic school. Put your efforts where they will count and you will do yourself a great service toward your future.
See how this statement resonates with you: “Being a good student makes you a better chiropractor.” This isn’t about trying to get straight A’s. It’s about actually utilizing the information you are exposed to daily and understanding it, because it will likely be useful when you are out in practice.
Here are a few suggestions for becoming a great student who transitions into a great DC:
1. Learn; don’t just memorize the material in class.
When you memorize and regurgitate for tests, you usually forget the information within a few days. A lot of the information you learn in school will be helpful in practice. Try and come up with stories that help you learn the information and make it part of your permanent memory.
2. Study in groups to help your understanding and communication skills with others.
Being a chiropractor is all about excellent communication and teaching skills. You had better get used to this idea because if you don’t talk to your patients and teach them, they will leave you and go somewhere else.
One of our greatest strengths as a profession is that we talk to our patients and explain things like no other doctor can.
Study groups are a great way to help you learn concepts from different perspectives. Furthermore, they allow you to
teach and explain things to your classmates who are struggling. Remember the old axiom: “See one, do one, teach one.” That is how we learn.
3. Practice your psychomotor adjusting skills, carefully and respectfully with one another.
Every chiropractor in practice has been in your shoes. They have gone through all of the stages of learning to adjust the bones of the spine. They begin with initial trepidation and nervousness and eventually gain confidence by doing it every day.
Be respectful of your classmates and try not to over-adjust or be too heavy handed when setting up on their bodies. You always remember the ones who have used too much force or performed a particularly painful adjustment. Try to make sure that is not you.
4. Talk to your instructors about relating what you are learning to clinical practice.
Your instructors are there to teach you to be the best doctor you can be. These people also have lives when they are not in school. Many of these instructors are running or have run successful practices. Take the time to talk with them and you will learn a great deal of information useful to your after-school life. They will help you learn what they are teaching you so you are not just memorizing, regurgitating, then forgetting after the test is over.
5. Take as many technique electives and seminars as you possibly can.
When you are high up enough in your schooling, you are eligible to take technique classes. Take as many of them as you can. The more you learn in school, the easier it will be for you when you are in practice. Plus, any seminars you take as a student will be much cheaper than the cost when you’re a doctor.
Always go the extra mile in your schooling because it will spill over into going the extra mile for your patients in practice. Get a good foundation and learn all you can because many of you will never have the time you have now to put into learning. Being a good student will make you a better chiropractor.
Kevin Wong, DC, is a 1996 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West. He is an expert on foot analysis, walking and standing postures, and orthotics. Wong travels the country speaking about spinal extremity adjusting while practicing full time in Orinda, Calif.