Connecting with Dr. Lester Partna

Dr. Lester Partna has been a staple in the University of Western States (UWS) chiropractic sciences department since 1989 and embodies what it means to Take the Lead both in his professional and personal life. Learn more about the renaissance man, (DJ) Dr. Partna.


What inspired you to pursue a career in the field of chiropractic?

I was a teenager when I was first exposed to chiropractic. My mom was helped significantly by a chiropractor when other methods of treating her low back pain had been unsuccessful. As I learned more about chiropractic, it was the concept of conservative health care, along with the dramatic results that I witnessed in my mom that fueled my journey toward this exceptional profession. By the time I graduated from high school, my career goals were clear.

What drives your passion for chiropractic education here at UWS?

I chose to attend Western States because of its reputation as a science-based chiropractic institution, and because they advocated and taught a broad-scope, patient-centered chiropractic model. Those are still the characteristics of the institution which I find to be the most compelling and which represent the most positive way forward for the profession.

What is a favorite memory you have from your time working at UWS?

The daily experience of being in the classroom with eager future chiropractic physicians is energizing and fulfilling in a way that, after 26 years, has created a rich mental scrapbook of great memories. I also think of the many extracurricular UWS events that have been so enjoyable: golf tournaments, barbecues, commencement ceremonies, and so many others. As I reflect on my years at UWS, I believe that my true satisfaction ultimately revolves around the relationships that have been developed with so many students and graduates over so many years. Of particular delight, in recent years, is to be able to teach the children of some of my former students.

What is one main pearl of wisdom you hope your students take away from your instruction?

Keep learning, while maintaining a sense of intellectual humility. As Chinese philosopher Lao-Tzu said, “To know yet to think that one does not know is best; Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty.” Strive to be knowledgeable—not to be a know-it-all.

Along with being the famous DJ Partna, please provide some other pastimes and passions you are involved in.

I have been told that I am a man of many interests and I suppose that’s true. Variety has always appealed to me. That’s probably why I like buffets.

I have been a musician from my earliest years, starting on the trumpet, adding the piano, guitar, bass, and drums along the way. I sang in a barbershop quartet while attending Western States Chiropractic College (WSCC). My wife is an accomplished musician and we performed as a duo for many years at wedding receptions and corporate events. For a period of time a few years ago, we even had the opportunity to write and perform music for television commercials. A few years ago, I took up the bagpipes with the encouragement of one of our UWS graduates.

I like to play golf, hike, collect and polish rocks from Oregon beaches, fly my hang glider, and make wooden bowls from locally available wood on my lathe. Though not as skillfully in recent years, I can ride a unicycle and juggle.

This is getting too long. I should stop now.

Why do you believe it’s important for health care providers to have other interests outside of work?

The story is told of nine-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright, who walked with his uncle on a winter day across a snow-covered field. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow’s flight, and then young Frank’s tracks meandering all over the field.

“Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle said. “And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that.” Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his outlook on life. “I determined right then,” he’d say with a twinkle in his eye, “not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had.”

For fun – What item is on your bucket list that you cannot wait to cross off?

I want to play golf with my wife at The Old Course at St. Andrews in Scotland. It’s been on my bucket list for many years, so I don’t think it would be accurate to say that I can’t wait to cross it off. I’ve already been waiting a long time.