To perspective and current students:
I have always been a chiropractor. I started studying straight out of high school, and was practicing by the age of twenty-two. In the course of my years of practice, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to countless people from a variety of professions who had the wisdom and foresight in lending a hand to give me a step up in the directions I was attempting to go. Because of this, I have been able to assist and witness the growth of the chiropractic profession and sports medicine from a global perspective.
The experience of learning multi-disciplinary athlete care in over 50 countries has given me a rare insight to the care and treatment of the athlete, sports medicine, the chiropractic profession and the specialty of sports chiropractic. With these insights I intend to continue in the wisdom of those who shared their knowledge and vision with me to ensure and continue the great work going on at University of Western States, providing you the best education available.
Why did you choose to work with athletes?
I didn’t choose to work with athletes, they chose me. I’ve played rugby competitively for more than 40 years. Early in my life as a rugby player, as teammates found out about my studies in chiropractic, they began to ask me for advice. It was then that I realized the difference I could make. That realization spurred me on to learn more and become more effective for athletes.
Most rewarding part of your job at UWS and in your clinical practice?
Here at UWS, I absolutely love having an opportunity to help students be the best sports chiropractors they can be. I lay awake at night thinking of how I can make this happen for them. I am thrilled that I get to help students realize their immense potential.
The most rewarding part of clinical practice is helping patients restore a lost aspect of their health or physical capability. When they look you in the eye and sincerely appreciate what you have done for them, you not only get to share in their joy, but get a deep inner satisfaction knowing you have been repaid for the investment of years spent learning to get to that point. That’s also something I think about as I train students here at UWS.
How do you stand out? How do you make your niche in the field of sports chiropractic?
It’s not about standing out – it’s about the relentless determination and perseverance toward your goals. Work with pride on whatever is in front of you, and then hold on, because you never know where you will end up. Define yourself by what you love, not by someone else’s definition or realization of success. Always realize there is nothing bigger than that which lies inside you.
Recently, I overheard the athletic director at Portland Christian tell his coaches, “if you’re not here for the team, then don’t come to play.” This is a sentiment I believe we all need to learn to live by. It’s not about you. It’s about the service you provide – to the athlete, to your sports chiropractic specialty and to the profession as a whole. When you make decisions on what you provide instead of determining “what’s in it for me,” success ultimately follows.
Advice for current students who want to work with athletes?
The simple answer is to find a sport you love and work at it like anything else you love – all day, every day, whenever you can. Live, eat and sleep being a sports chiropractor. My other advice is to never stop learning and to never stop trying. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and put yourself in situations you are not familiar with.
How do you think your work aligns with the UWS philosophy on integrating disciplines?
Sports medicine, like most sports, involves an integrated team approach. I can’t think of an instance when you will not communicate in one form or another with another health care discipline or interact with a different scope of practice. Losing sight of this basic premise in practice will ensure your isolation in practice and diminish your potential for overall success. This is one reason we employ chiropractic physicians athletic trainers within our program. We attempt to expose our students to as many different types of sports and sport environments for precisely this reason.
Interested in becoming a sports-focused chiropractor? Dr. Ray is happy to answer any questions about the profession and the sports medicine program at UWS.
You can contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 503-251-5709.