Bio: Dr. Michael Lell was raised and educated in Louisiana. After graduating from the prestigious Louisiana School, he attended college in his hometown of Lafayette, where he majored in biology and minored in English literature. He moved to Oregon to attend University of Western States in 2011. While at UWS, he served as the associated student body (ASB) president for two terms; was the first student to sit on an Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners (OBCE) committee; and worked with the Oregon Chiropractic Association (OCA) to raise their student membership nearly 200 percent. For this, he was awarded the Dr. John Schmidt Award for outstanding leadership. Following graduation, he worked under his mentor, Dr. Dan Beeson in Portland. He left regular practice to venture into urgent care and is now employed by Zoom+Care. In his current role, he sees patients and works alongside medical providers that have never interacted with a chiropractic physician.
Dr. Lell considers it his mission to display chiropractic medicine in the best possible light. To impress upon his medical colleagues that we are collaborative and evidence-based musculoskeletal specialists and to show his first-time patients that the care chiropractic physicians provide is patient-centered, safe and effective.
When you were in school, how did you envision your future work in the field of chiropractic?
By the time I graduated, I saw myself practicing as a primary spine care provider. Having a diverse outpatient clinic experience really helped define my interests and future plans.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Ninety percent of my new patients have never been to a chiropractic physician before. Being able to introduce them to the effectiveness of our interventions and the benefit of our management is really rewarding. Knowing that their first exposure is within an evidence-based and patient centered framework makes me very satisfied. I love hearing patients say, “I didn’t think this would work this well.” I love surprising people with what we can do
How does having a specialization help set you apart from the rest?
I work seamlessly alongside physical therapists, orthopedic surgeons, emergency room physicians, internists, urgent and primary care providers. I also have immediate access to advanced imaging with expedited report generation. This helps my patients and me in many ways. I barely have to wait for additional clinical information, be it from a test or a second opinion. What may take others several days or weeks, I can get done in hours. This makes my clinical decision-making and management very fast and efficient. If I need to co-manage or refer a patient for less conservative measures, appointments are available for that patient within the day, and our records are centralized so that every provider is immediately up to speed. This makes patient care coordination fast and effortless. The patients really enjoy it.
What was the most valuable pearl of wisdom you learned from UWS?
An old professor told me that I had better learn to diagnose accurately because my interventions won’t help much if I’m treating the wrong thing. When you graduate, there are countless seminars to make you a better adjuster, better at rehab, better at this and that. But no seminar will give you the clinical decision making or diagnostic skills that UWS offers.
What is your advice to current students considering what their specialization will be?
Don’t pick a specialization because you think it will make you money or make you popular. Consider the topics and cases that excite you. Articles that you’ll make time to read despite a busy schedule. What would you gladly spend money on and travel across the country to learn? What gets you interested and inspires you to dive in with 100 percent of your effort? What is something you want to master just for the personal fulfillment of it? That’s your specialty. It’s that consistent attempt at mastery of something you’re passionate about that leads to booked schedules and paying patients. I didn’t know I wanted to practice the way I do until a year after graduation so don’t rush it. It’s okay if finding your thing takes time.