Just like with any major or course of study, there is a lot of classroom learning and instruction needed before practicing what you will be doing with your degree and your career. For me, there were times that it felt like becoming a doctor of chiropractic would take an eternity. Thankfully, the reality is that you can earn your doctor of chiropractic degree in as few as 3.3 years at Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC). Little did I know that all those basic science and diagnostic courses that I took in my first two years at CUKC would come into play when I started the Introduction to Clinic I course.
Dressed for success in a white coat, with access to the electronic health records, the Introduction to Clinic I course puts your knowledge to the test. No matter how confident you are in your abilities, this course will really make you take a step back. Why? Not because it's hard or tricky, but because it's your first course applying what you've learned about spinal anatomy, neuromusculoskeletal diagnosing, and much more to a real patient. It is no longer memorizing and recalling information for an exam. It's using what you've learned paired with deductive reasoning to diagnose a patient and determine treatment.
The Introduction to Clinic I course specifically focuses on performing a mock daily visit to the chiropractor's office. It's not about understanding a new patient's needs or updating an established patient's care plan. Instead, the course is designed to prepare you for a clinical experience by partnering you with a peer who acts as your patient during class. As the patient, your peer states physical complaints. As the doctor, you gather the subjective and objective information from the patient using assessment methods learned in prior courses. Once you've completed the assessment, you determine what areas of the body would benefit from chiropractic care. Then you complete your notes to fulfill Medicare or insurance requirements. Once your notes are ready, you ask a clinician to review and grade the notes and then supervise the patient adjustment.
Talk about getting your heart racing. Sure, by the time you get to this Introduction to Clinic I course you are in trimester six out of ten. At that point you are what we refer to as an "upper tri," but having a clinician give you a grade on something you'll be doing for the rest of your career is still nerve wracking. Now, of course, it's the first clinic course, not the last. You're there to learn and aren't expected to be perfect, no one is. Even so, it's easy to think that having been in chiropractic college for two years at this point you should have this down perfectly. Wrong.
I will be the first to admit that I am a perfectionist, type A personality. This course was a reality check for me. While I had been going to adjustment club, and practicing my adjusting skills non-stop, and studying like crazy, I still had a lot to learn. There are reasons why students start in the student clinic and then go to the outpatient clinic. It's not just about learning the skills you need; it's also about applying what you know and becoming faster using your deductive reasoning. You need time to become a nimble thinker, quickly sifting through all of that knowledge from the previous two years of coursework, and determining what your patient needs from you at that moment. The beauty of Introduction to Clinic I is that it helps you to develop all of these qualities.
If there is one piece of advice I can give before starting your clinic experience at CUKC, it's to keep an open mind. There are many clinicians available to you at Cleveland University-Kansas City. Pick their brains and accept their critique because they have experience that we as students only hope to gain. If you're interested in learning more about the CUKC chiropractic program, contact an advisor today!
Megan McRell is a CUKC campus ambassador and student blogger sharing personal experiences and perspectives. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about CUKC.