Veterans Affairs Residency Opportunities

October 13 at 12:40 – 1:30 p.m. in Hampton Hall 1, guest speakers Dr. Edward Bednarz and Dr. Mario O. Roybal will discuss career opportunities the VA has to offer, as well as the status of VA residencies.

Veterans Affairs Residency OpportunitiesUWS student and third year chiropractic intern, Stephanie Halloran describes her Preceptorship experience at the VA Hospital in Indianapolis, Indiana.

What drew you to internships with the VA, and what excites you most about the future of chiropractic in working with veterans?

Two years ago I attended my first Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) Leadership Conference in Roanoke, Virginia. The conference focused on the Veterans Affairs (VA) residency opportunities at five locations around the country. The chiropractic physician at each location gave a short talk on the specifics of what their residents did, the benefits of the VA clerkships and residencies in integrative medicine and how the skills obtained there would transfer over to private practice. At the conclusion of that day, I knew I wanted to do my preceptorship at one of University of Western States VA-affiliate locations.

My goals during the VA clerkship are personal development and professional advancement. I knew I would benefit from the opportunity to practice under some of the best doctors in the country. So far, I have found that shadowing an interdisciplinary team of physicians has been an amazing experience in terms of professional development. As part of my work, I get to listen as they discuss they condition and management they choose based on clinical expertise.

In this VA clerkship, I have the opportunity to observe other practitioners that I would not otherwise encounter before I start practicing. I will rotate to different departments within the pain clinic such as pain psychology, physiatry and physical therapy, and I will be in the operating room as neurosurgeons perform discectomies and spinal blocks. These daily interactions will give me the chance to develop the skills to work with these professionals in my everyday practice, as well as thoroughly explain alternate treatment options to patients who are investigating routes outside of chiropractic care.

My second goal with the clerkship is the opportunity to advance the chiropractic profession as we continue to find our appropriate place in the health care system. Clerkships and residencies within the VA will prove invaluable in establishing ourselves as providers in chronic pain treatment and prevention for not only our troops, but for the U.S. population as a whole. In a country where opioids make up 60 percent of prescribed drugs, patients and primary care physicians alike are seeking alternate ways to manage pain. Chiropractic medicine is often misunderstood in the health care industry, but once other practitioners are aware of the specific skills chiropractic physicians have, it creates a paradigm shift and the opportunity for collaboration amongst MDs, DOs, PTs and DCs.

I am not one for sitting back and letting other people do the work to change the trajectory of this profession. The VA clerkship will afford me the chance to expand my understanding of other medical specialties and actively engage in conversations that change the outside view of chiropractic medicine. Along with this exciting impact, I will have the opportunity to treat a population of people who voluntarily risked their lives to give me the freedom to pursue my dreams. I have no doubt it will be a jammed-packed quarter that will significantly impact my future as a chiropractic physician for the better.