In my first trimester at New York Chiropractic College, all incoming first-year students were assigned a student mentor.
The advice mine gave me was: “You must take care of yourself if you’re going to take care of others.” In that spirit, here are some techniques to keep you on top of your health even when the demands of chiropractic school and beginning practice become overwhelming.
Get into a routine and stick to it: For example, if you are a morning person, get up before your first class or morning shift to go to the gym or for a run. This is your sacred time, and once your routine is established, breaking it becomes difficult.
Even better, commit to a routine with a friend. Not only will you both look forward to it, but you’ll motivate each other. You’ll find that when you start the day with any type of exercise, the rest of the day you’ll be happier and more energetic.”
Adequate sleep is necessary for a variety of reasons when you are in school. It offers enhanced memory, better attention and learning, and decreased anxiety and depression. True, you might have to cram the night before a big exam, even if that means pulling an all-nighter.
However, cutting your sleep short can result in not only poor test performance but also weight gain and lowered immune system resistance. If you have difficulty getting or staying asleep, avoid alcohol and other prescription sedatives.
Chiropractic school, especially the first trimester, can be very stressful. The immense amount of reading, studying, and test taking make you feel like you’re always playing catch-up. And while exercise and sleep are vital, having close relationships is just as valuable.
Many of start school without knowing anyone, but building healthy relationships with other students over time can significantly improve your quality of life while away from home.
Get out and about
When possible, get out and experience your new home. The change in scenery, even if for a few hours, can impact you tremendously. It can reduce your stress levels while sparking creativity and putting you in contact with people outside of school.
One of the best ways to take care of your self is by eating healthy. The cafeteria at school usually offers both healthy and unhealthy foods; it’s up to you to choose what to eat. Meals should consist of a lean protein and vegetables and a serving of unprocessed grains for each meal.
By choosing to eat healthy early on in your career you will not only practice what you preach and represent the profession well, but also practice disease prevention.
Consider visiting some chiropractors in private practice. After completing your first year of school, look to observe and volunteer in some practices close to your college. If you can, visit “straight” offices, rehabilitation-type practices that work with orthopedic surgeons, spinal correction practices, and nutrition-based practices.
Learn from each style and create what you believe works best. It is vital to apply what you learn in school with what you observe in real practice.
You read a lot in school, and are probably good at skimming over multiple pages of information. You might find that you rarely read in chiropractic school for pleasure. After graduation you’ll still have to read a lot pertaining to work, including professional journals, reading for additional certifications, reviewing medical records, and updates to changes in healthcare laws.
Help your future patients and lead by example. Practice what you preach by having a healthy diet, exercise routine, and sleep schedule. Cultivate and cherish the friendships you build at school because they can last you a lifetime. Get out of your comfort zone and visit chiropractors in private practice for real-world experience. And never forget about or give up on your quest for knowledge.
Louis Miller, DC, MS, is the owner and operator of Advanced Chiropractic of South Florida and Healthy Weight Solutions. He has been practicing chiropractic since in 2015 he completed his Master of Science Degree in applied clinical nutrition. He can be contacted at 561-432-1399, or through healthyweightsolutions.org.