By: Freya Moran
I heard about LEAPS in an email. I can’t remember who sent it or why, but administration sent out an update on scholarship opportunities near the end of my fifth quarter (just a few weeks before boards) and amongst the messages stuffing my inbox, something caught my eye.
Now, before I get too far into the application process, let me just say how awesome and powerful it is to be a student. Hear me out. Just by showing interest in a particular direction, we can change the course of opportunities for our education and our careers. Yes, the road to change is long and full of paperwork, but as students we rarely see the paperwork – it’s up to us to do the leg-work. In my short time as a student, I’ve seen more progression for chiropractic in the area of integrative medicine than I can even wrap my head around. As the shortage of primary care physicians grows and our treatment skills grow stronger, I see no reason why chiropractic shouldn’t evolve to fill that void. In fact, up to that point, I had been thinking about what the differences actually were between chiropractic care and the typical medical doctor in terms of primary care. The only conclusion I could come up with, besides prescription rights, was residency.
The typical education sequence for an MD/DO student is four years of medical school followed by a residency program. Residency can be anywhere from two years practicing primary care to eight years studying neurosurgery, living only marginally better than the average graduate student with a tiny stipend after years of maintaining a GPA in order to “match” with a program you want. These programs are meant to aid students in achieving clinical experience in specialized fields, so by the time they matriculate they are literally the most educated, qualified individuals they can be.
Currently, there is residency program for chiropractic students in radiology, a similar placement in the VA and a fellowship in sports medicine. Beyond that, not much post-graduate training exists beyond continuing education seminars and preceptorship. What would it mean to integrate chiropractic medicine with traditional allopathic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, physical therapy, naturopathic medicine, functional nutrition, acupuncture, etc.?
And there in my inbox was an email for the Leadership and Education Program for Students in Integrative Medicine (LEAPS into IM) annual leadership program. I knew nothing about it, but after reading the short synopsis I learned the program was hosted by the American Consortium for Integrative Medicine in association with the American Medical Student Association. These two governing bodies have never been typically associated with recognizing chiropractic. After a little snooping around on their website, I found the application to be straightforward. It required participants to plan and execute a proposed idea with support from faculty mentors and a core faculty at LEAPS within a year. If the student and their idea were chosen, the consortium would give small monetary grants to help get the project off the ground. Only 30 medical students around the country were to be picked!
As this was the first time the consortium had embraced complementary alternative medical providers, and given my intense passion for integrating medicine, I proposed the project of my dreams: an integrative medicine residency program that would be open to chiropractic students as well as other CAM and allopathic providers.
Although this kind of project is most likely going to be my life’s work rather than something I can accomplish in the next year, it was this idea that grabbed the interest of the coordinator and director of the leadership program and solidified my spot as the first chiropractic student accepted into LEAPS into IM.
Coming Soon! Read about Freya’s experience at the week-long Leaps into IM project in Oceanside, Calif.!