Founder – HEART Health Care for Artists
Bio: Dr. Montserrat Andreys is a queer Latinx sports chiropractic physician born in Mexico City, Mexico, raised in Chicago, Ill., lived in Albuquerque, N.M., and educated and currently practicing at a sports med clinic in Portland, Ore. She is the founder of HEART Health Care for Artists. As a dancer herself, she was keenly aware of how underserved the artist community was in regards to health care. She utilizes the principles of sports medicine and applies them to the needs of the arts community through connections via social media, workshops, panel discussions, interviews and her work at the clinic.
“There are so many tools available in sports medicine that can keep artists healthy and help them recover from injury, they just don’t know about them!”
Where does your passion for chiropractic care stem from?
I come from a long line of healers. My great grandmother was a midwife and herbalist in Honduras. Natural and conservative medicines were always a part of how my family managed their health. When it came time for me to decide what kind of provider I wanted to be, I wanted an education that would prepare me to diagnose and manage patient care including referrals to specialists and advanced testing, as well as to advocate for patients as they navigate the health care system. It was important for me to not only be highly skilled in the management of acute injury, but also coach people out of chronic pain and be able to provide wellness care once acute and chronic injuries were under control.
What initially drove you to choose to work with populations such as tattoo artists and performing artists?
I have been surrounded by art and artists my whole life and I have an undergraduate degree in dance. One thing that our society makes very clear is that we want to consume all the incredible creativity artists have to offer, but we do not support the health and wellness of those same artists. The acute, repetitive strain injuries and chronic injuries artists are easily managed with the right care. When I saw how my skill set could serve the arts community, it was a no-brainer to make the information accessible. I believe that wellness care should be free and available to everyone, so I decided to start making videos for artists to share the information with them. As for the tattoo artists, I accompanied my friend for a piece and the tattoo artist and I started talking. When she found out what I did, she said “we need you!” So, she and I sat down one day, I took lots of notes about the experience of being a tattoo artist and I created a continuing education course that teaches them about why their body hurts and what they can do to change that.
What is your favorite memory from your time as a UWS student?
I love all the moments that a question I didn’t even know I had was answered in class. For example, I always have this huge urgency to pee right before I am about to go on stage. When I was learning physiology, I learned that the bladder has receptors for fight-or-flight hormones causing it to contract when we feel high stress. When I look at the sun or a bright light I sneeze, in neuroanatomy I learned that the photogenic sneeze reflex occurs due to the trigeminal nerve innervations. It made learning extra fun when I came across a cool gems like that.
And I loved my time in service as the student body president. In addition to the ways I learned to support our students, once a month I got to have one-on-one conversations with Dr. Brimhall that helped shape my leadership and professional skills.
What is a piece of advice you’d offer to current UWS doctor of chiropractic students?
Remember the joy you felt when you opened your acceptance letter and hold it close for those long days and nights. It’s a tough program AND it is absolutely worth it! When I was in school, I met so many doctors in the field whose eyes would light up when I told them I was in school. They all said the same thing and they were right. We have incredibly diverse and beautiful careers. The way we get to participate in support of our community bringing compassionate, evidence-based, accessible care is very fulfilling.
In addition, it is incredibly important that we be informed and nimble around health care justice. Find ways to educate yourself about power dynamics, unconscious bias, gender affirmation, the history of systemic racism in health care, cultural humility, homophobia, body positivity, mental health, the history of sexually inappropriate behavior and abuse by doctors. It is our responsibility to be well-informed so we reduce harm for our patients.
What is your favorite way to relieve stress?
Sitting around a crowded table elbow-to-elbow with friends and steamy food on the table, loud and rowdy laughter and music in the background. Or a night of live performances followed by listening to the music of a great DJ. Or spending hours late at night in a dance studio working out choreography. It’s hard work in the moment, but so satisfying after!