What is Chiropractic school like?

As a fresh Doctoral student of Chiropractic at the University of Western States, I have found myself immersed in classes that are enabling me to learn the smallest details of the human anatomy. It’s humbling and awe-inspiring.

In the first week of school I was introduced to our cadaver, who we named Phillis. I am just over halfway through my learning experience with Phillis and she has already taught me much about the diversity of human anatomy and the use it or lose it phrase. Though we do not know who Phillis was or what her life was like, I can see atrophied muscles and in some cases very few muscle fibers exist in places where muscles generally do exist in the human anatomy. Though muscle and bone are the most visible (in terms of size) focus of our anatomy dissections, we spend much time in lecture and lab observing and learning the small, intrinsic details of the human anatomy. I am intrigued with the nerves, arteries and veins that course between layers of muscle, dividing and transversing through the body on their way to innervate or supply target tissues and organs. The day I dissected the nerve that twinges when we hit our “funny bone” was a wonderful day.

And through surface anatomy and palpation labs, I’ve found those same bony landmarks on my living classmates where significant muscles attach or significant nerves travel through. And I can get real-time feedback from my “patient” to assess their experience when I find tension patterns, knots, trigger points. In the last few months, we’ve been getting into joint plays and noticing what there is to notice: range of motion from side to side, moveability or lack thereof.

Through biochemistry I’ve been learning the fundamentals of metabolism. Nutrition is so important to how our body moves and compensates and shows or does not show symptoms and so I have really come to appreciate biochemistry and what this background will be able to give me in terms of helping patients in the future.

In the thick of school (especially when it’s a heavy exam week!) it can be challenging for me to feel passionate about human anatomy and physiology and biochemistry. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the amount of stuff I have to do to maintain my expectations for my grades. And it’s understandable: I am taking over 30 credit hours at the graduate level. We all, for various reasons, experience the feeling of overwhelm. And that’s when it calls for mindfulness and witnessing the emotive experience rather than getting caught up in it.

Oh! I forgot to tell you about my MindBody Mindfulness class for medical professionals. The 8-week Mind Body Medicine program was first introduced at Georgetown University as a way to build more compassion into the students of medicine. My university decided to incorporate it as an elective for chiropractic students who tend to already have a lot of compassion, but need more stress-reduction. It has been a wonderful way to get to know some of my classmates and to continue my own learning and practice of meditation and mindfulness.

I plan to continue to share my experiences as I traverse through the Doctor of Chiropractic program. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.