| Written By: Stephanie Halloran |
As I approach my graduation and look back at my experience at University of Western States, there are a few things that I can credit my successes to, and I would advise future students to hone in on these for themselves.
- Find your why. Everyone has a story about why they are interested in pursuing chiropractic as a career. Sit down in a quiet space with no distractions and write down why you are here, what your vision is for your future practice and what you need to do to make that vision come to life. Three years in a rigorous program makes even the most passionate student discouraged at times and coming back to your personal why will keep that flame going when you are 15 finals deep and still have six National Board exams to take during sixth quarter.
- Find a mentor. Once you have your why and vision for chiropractic school, you need to find the path to get you to that goal because school is hard enough as it is, and it is even harder to try to do it alone. Over my three years at UWS, I have had many mentors including Dr. Ron LeFebvre, Dr. Daniel DeLapp, Dr. Gary Schultz and recently, Dr. Chris Sherman during my preceptorship. Dr. Benjamin Ramos was one of my first mentors without even knowing it. I watched the way he pursued things that aligned with his vision. He had an ability to engage the student population in a R2P club that was virtually non-existent when Dr. Justin Dean started it. I encourage you to utilize the brilliant people around you and take away as much of their clinical knowledge and personal experiences that you can. During my first few months at UWS, I saw the same guy walking around campus and always talking about the R2P group. He was well-known and respected for his knowledge in the rehab realm. At that moment, I knew I wanted to be like him even though internal medicine was my gift and passion.
- Get involved. At UWS, I sought additional opportunities through the Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA), and I was able to take on the national role of Specialty Council Committee Co-Chair and grow the UWS SACA chapter. I transferred that energy into SACA, my Diagnosis and Internal Disorders diplomate and my goal to preceptor at the VA.
- Ask questions. If I have a question, I ask it no matter how silly I think it may sound. When I arrived at UWS, I made sure to connect with others and spend as much time as I could learning and asking questions.
- Have fun. School is hard and no one will remember if you earned an A- or A+ in that one histology class in second quarter. Go explore Portland, hike South Sister, make a weekend trip to Seattle and watch the Fourth of July fireworks from the Hawthorne Bridge. You are not living to work, you are working to live.
If you take time to do what you love, school will be more enjoyable, and by the time you get to practice, you will be overflowing with excitement to implement all the things you have invested your time in. I am 10 weeks into my preceptor at the VA in Indianapolis and every morning when my alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m., I bound out of bed excited to see what the day has in store for me and what patients I can help. The ability to give someone a pain-free life, when they never imagined it possible, is one of the most rewarding experiences and I get to do it every day. I wouldn’t change my time at UWS, the VA or the profession I am becoming a part of for anything in the world.