Leaps into IM: Part Three

By Freya Moran

Of the 29 students who attended the Leaps into IM training, five of us were considered alternative care practitioners: a herbologist, a naturopath, a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, an acupuncturist and myself. Near the end of our stay the faculty asked the five of us to sit as a panel and discuss alternative care, and what took place was irreplaceable.

At the beginning of the week, I found the conversation (regarding medical practice) between professions to be cautious at best. During the osteopathic demonstration, I was asked to demonstrate my own skills from the chiropractic perspective regarding the general physical and postural exam. After sitting through a week of presentations on documented research and evidence regarding the efficacy of various practices (including yoga, acupuncture, tai chi, etc.), people had a more open mind and even more questions regarding chiropractic care. So when we sat down for our panel discussion, it was no surprise the room was abuzz with questions.

During the panel discussion we tried to keep things informal by opening the floor to questions from the medical doctor (MD) and doctor of osteopathy (DO) students and faculty. The questions were cordial and included how exactly to refer, how to read chart notes and what conditions would merit a referral. Then one of the DO students carefully asked the difference between chiropractic and osteopathic practice, and when it would be appropriate for a DO to refer to a DC? Oh, and what the heck is a subluxation?

If, as a student, you’ve never asked yourself these questions then now is a good time to sit down and talk about it. And then talk about it some more. Then meet up with a mentor or shadow a chiropractic physician and talk about it with them too. I cannot say enough about the importance of constantly refining your thoughts on your position in medicine.

And then just to keep your mind busy (with all your vast amounts of free time), keep up with the research, the case studies and the trials. Use those research conclusions and your clinical experiences to continue to shape, change and refine your idea and philosophy of patient care and your place in human health. Don’t allow yourself to stay stagnant – push yourself to have the awkward conversations, change your approach, and surround yourself with people who don’t share the same opinions. How can we continue to grow as individuals and as a profession if we do not meet the needs and answer the questions we aren’t comfortable with answering?

These hard questions led to a robust and informative discussion about respect. After the student alternative care panel, we went to lunch and I suddenly found myself surrounded by curious young doctors, genuinely asking me what a chiropractic treatment approach would be for diabetes, cardio metabolic disease and osteoporosis. How would I co-manage obesity? Could I look at a shoulder sometime that evening? It was amazing how open and interested this group of MDs and DOs were regarding conservative management of the most common lifestyle diseases in America.

As a 7th quarter student, I definitely did not have all the answers. I haven’t read all the research. I’ve never written an essay on the history and philosophy of subluxation. I know that I can’t possibly accurately represent the views of so many in our immense profession, but what I do know is that I’m going to spend the rest of my career learning and continuing to have these amazingly brave conversations with my fellow health care providers and patients.

I have learned that there is no lecture, lab or seminar you can take to develop your individual philosophy – it obviously takes years of clinical experience and constant questioning – but being involved in LEAPS has offered me some insight into my future of answering questions about my profession and has inspired me to keep searching for answers.

This is the third and final installment of Freya Moran’s blog series regarding her experience as the first chiropractic student at the Leaps into IM annual leadership program in Oceanside, Calif.