Bio: Rebecca Bell grew up in the small town of Hockinson, Wash. After graduating high school, she spent some time at Lane Community College on a soccer scholarship before attending Washington State University to study biology. In Fall 2015, she began school at University of Western States (UWS). Rebecca has a deep-rooted love for sports, which drove her to enroll in the master’s in sports medicine program in addition to the doctor of chiropractic program. She quickly took an interest in the Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) and served as the vice president for the UWS SACA chapter. Shortly after, she became the vice chair of national membership committee for SACA. In the year after that, she was elected the SACA president at UWS and was selected to be the chair of SACA national membership committee. Aside from serving in those positions, she has been a recipient of several scholarships from Standard Process, Inc., the Joint Chiropractic and Daughters of the Pioneers. Currently, Rebecca is an intern at Element Wellness and Sports Rehabilitation in Portland, Ore. working with Dr. Noah Goodwill and Dr. Adam Dew. Dr. Goodwill is also the team chiropractic physician for the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns. In the future, she hopes to continue to work with elite athletes in an integrated health care setting. Her passion for the progression of the chiropractic profession remains, so she plans to stay involved with the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) as she transitions from student to doctor.
How did you get connected to the opportunity of working with Dr. Noah Goodwill?
Opportunities are funny things. Sometimes they fall into your lap and sometimes you go out searching for them. This opportunity is not the kind that fell into my lap. I knew that Dr. Noah Goodwill, a 2002 UWS alumnus, was the team chiropractic physician for the Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns, but the thing that really drew me toward wanting to preceptor with him was the unique clinic he and his wife, Chris Goodwill, MSPT, own – Element Wellness and Sports Rehabilitation located in Portland. Dr. Goodwill is a physical therapist, so at their clinic there are two chiropractic physicians and six physical therapists, which is something you do not see every day. Being able to work in a setting where PTs and DCs work in tandem is the coolest thing and I knew I wanted to be around it to learn more.
I called Dr. Goodwill’s office and talked to his front desk staff who said I could email him about shadowing. After a few emails, we decided on a good time for me to shadow and that went really well. I knew that he had previously taken on UWS student interns, so I was hopeful from the start that it would turn into an internship. I shadowed a number of times before they invited me to preceptor with them. I am very ecstatic and grateful that he is taking me on as an intern. The fact that Dr. Goodwill is the Thorns/Timbers team chiropractic physician is a bonus because he has so much knowledge about working with professional athletes and I am incredibly lucky he is willing to let me have some exposure into that realm as well. At Element Wellness and Sports Rehabilitation, they do a lot of Active Release Technique (ART), rehabilitation exercises, adjusting and other treatments that I will have the privilege to take part in during my time there as an intern.
What are you most excited for with this internship?
Soccer has always been my favorite sport, so that is a nice bonus! It is hard to pinpoint what I am most excited about in the coming 11 weeks, but I think it is the unique opportunity to learn from so many different doctors. Just as every chiropractic physician has their niche, so does every physical therapist. Each practitioner has loads of knowledge to offer and I cannot wait to see and hear how they approach things. Being able to witness firsthand the clinic’s business side will also be very valuable.
Where does your passion for chiropractic care stem from?
Seeing a family member suffer from a chronic illness is something I would not wish upon anyone, but it was a surefire way to motivate me, from a very young age, to ensure my career would line up with my passion for bettering the lives of people who are suffering. This did not directly lead me on a magical path to chiropractic, but instead led me down a road of exploration between careers I knew helped people in some way or another.
Job shadowing in my spare time during my undergraduate studies showed me what a day in the life of an MD, PT and DO would look like. As I learned by watching my mother’s multiple sclerosis progress from mild to very severe, I saw how medication is necessary in some people’s lives, but also how it can only go so far regarding the pain they are experiencing and improving their overall health. It was not until I job shadowed my mentor, Cara Olsen, DC, and saw her ability to help people by addressing the root of their problems with her hands that I knew what I wanted to do. I job shadowed her for nearly a year before even applying for chiropractic school, because I was so sure this was the career path for me. That is where my passion for the chiropractic profession stems from.
What initially drove you to choose to work with athletes?
My passion for working with athletes comes from being an athlete for my entire life. Soccer was my sport and I played competitively all through my youth, in high school and in college. Unfortunately, I tore my ACL, meniscus and MCL prior to my one year of college soccer, which made that year not as much fun as I would have liked. I made the very difficult decision to stop playing after that season. The people who worked with me before and after surgery were inspiring, because they seemed to understand the drive I had to get back to 100 percent. Although my passion is not specific to working with just elite athletes, they are my favorite population to work with because of their passion for what they do. They are usually more in tune with their bodies than the general population and are much more likely to take an active role in their care.
Do you have any pieces for advice for those currently in the chiropractic and sports medicine programs at UWS?
My advice to current chiropractic and sports medicine students is to soak up all of the practical experience as much as you can. I know it gets tedious to get those practicum hours in when the chiropractic program gets busy, especially at your assigned shifts in the clinic. At UWS though, we have an administration constantly working very hard to get us exposure. The practicum events within the sports medicine program are where I got to see some really neat cases, I may have not seen in a traditional clinic shift.
We are also very lucky we get to learn from chiropractic physicians as well as an athletic trainer. If you plan to work with athletes, chances are you will work with many athletic trainers as well! Any time you get to work with someone who has a different specialty than you I think you should soak it up and pick their brain as much as you can.