Ladies and gentlemen, I want to re-introduce you to Josh D'Alessandro. He is a student at Sherman College studying to become an Upper Cervical doctor. He and I met last year when he shadowed me at the office for a day and I asked him to write down his experiences through chiropractic school. They make TV shows about law school and medical school and I think it further establishes the credibility of the Upper Cervical/chiropractic profession for you to know what we go through. Josh's school breaks down into four quarters per year for three and a half years and he is about to enter quarter #5. So, congrats to him for just finishing year #1. Without further ado, here's Josh...
Itís summertime! One year down, only two and half to go until I am done studying! This past quarter (4th quarter) seemed to fly by. Without a doubt, this was BY FAR the most rigorous and challenging quarter out of the four, no contest. We went 8:00 am Ė 4:00 pm on Monday-Wednesdays, and until 5:00 pm on Thursdays with only a one hour break for lunch. Fridays were a little more generous. It was sometimes rather difficult to manage the 7+ hours of lecture every day and then go home and try to figure out what in the world they talked about all day in class (studying). Especially when you have other commitments like trying to stay sane and do anything besides school. With that said, I am extremely grateful that it is over and am even more grateful for the three week summer vacation. The summer vacation is even that much more enjoyable due to the fact I know that 5th quarter is going to be awesome and much easier compared to what my classmates and I just endured the past eleven weeks.
Here is a summary of the classes that Sherman College students take during their 4th quarter of study:
1) Micropathology- perhaps the most boring class I have taken. Itís a toss up between that and microbiology. We had a really nice teacher who was lively, energetic, and tried to make the class as fun as possible. But, it doesní't matter who is teaching the class, the material is rather dry. This class covers the principles of morbid anatomy, including cellular morphology, inflammatory changes, various types of degeneration, atrophy, necrosis, thrombosis, gangrene, repair and healing, the internal fluid environment, hemorrhage, shock and postmortem changes.
2)X-ray anatomy- This course introduces the students to identify anatomical structures as viewed on plain film x rays. Normal spinal structures are thoroughly studied in preparation for other x-ray courses in the curriculum. I really enjoyed this course. This was by far my favorite academic course of the quarter. We spent the majority of the quarter about (6-7 weeks) just on the upper cervical area. The other three weeks covered the lower cervical, thoracics, lumbars, and pelvis. So, I was very appreciative that the course spent so much time on the upper cervical area so my classmates and I will feel more competent studying and analyzing that vital area of the body.
3)Spinal Biodynamics II Ė This course is designed to further the studentís understanding of the spine as an organ. Concepts introduced in Spinal Biodynamics I are studied in greater depth. Much consideration is given to understanding the interactions between multiple biodynamic theories. Biomechanical factors relevant to the cause, effect and correction of the vertebral subluxation and its clinical presentation are discussed. This class was very interesting as it covered a broad range of information regarding the spine. Specific topics such as what an ďidealĒ spine should look like, scoliosis, normal movements of the spine between each articulation including flexion, extension, lateral flexion, and rotation are all covered in detail.
4)Neuroanatomy II- This course is a 9 HOUR per week course. The last 9 hour course per week for the rest of the program. The next longest class that we will have to take is only 6 hours per week. This was what makes 4th quarter the most difficult quarter of the program. The way the class is taught is at a very intense and fast pace. This course is the continuation of Neuroanatomy I. It covers the structural and functional anatomy of the brain-stem, the cranial nerves, and the forebrain. As in Neuroanatomy I, nuclei tracts and the effects of lesions are studied at the gross and microscopic levels. The laboratory portion includes the study of microscopic slides, models and brain sections. So here is a little insight into how complex and how difficult the class is. The lab portion is two out of the nine hours in the week. We had 17 pages of structures to learn with each page having approximately 15-25 structures on each page. We had to know every structure on every model in order to be successful on the test. Get this, this exam is only 15% of the class and it was the easiest part of the class. Although this class was only one of our eights classes during this quarter, I probably spent about 50% or more of my study time on this class and just crammed for every other class right before exams. You canít afford to fall behind in this class or you might have to take it the following quarter. Now that we are done with this class, my classmates and I know it is all downhill from here. Donít get me wrong, we still have 10 quarters left in the program with a lot of challenging courses ahead, but none will be harder than what we just accomplished with Neuro II ?.
5)Upper Cervical Technique- This course covers knee-chest and side posture adjustment set-ups for the proper use of toggle recoil technique for the upper cervical subluxation correction. Emphasis is placed on correct patient placement and doctorís stance. The correlation of x-ray and spinal examination findings to increase certainty in the determination of upper cervical listings is also stressed. This class was exciting because we actually got to learn and practice what I want to do for the rest of my life. The fact that the curriculum teaches the course so early in the program is awesome for the students. Now, we are completely competent in the set-ups for adjusting an upper cervical subluxation. In this upcoming quarter (5th quarter), my classmates and I will be taking X-ray analysis 1, where we will learn how to analyze the subluxation through x-rays. Then, we will be ready to begin adjusting! This upcoming quarter, we will learn how to adjust the lower cervicals. Beginning in October, we will be learning how to adjust the thoracics and lumbars, and finally, in January of next year, we will learn how to adjust the pelvis and sacrum. After that, we will have taken every course in adjusting and analyzing the spine, and have completed the first of four-five board exams we have to take. (Some states require a 5th exam in physiotherapy).
6)Microbiology II- this course is a continuation of Microbiology I. Emphasis is placed on pathogenic microbes and includes a systematic study of parasitology, immunology, virology, mycology, microbial life cycles, and the relationship between common pathogens and their hosts. This class was very difficult to pay attention in at times because this class was everyday at 3:00 in the afternoon. After having six classes before this one, youíre pretty much ready to go home or do anything other than listen to information about bugs and viruses. However, this information is actually useful to know in some cases. Itís important to know about the complications viruses, parasites, and fungi can have on the human body and how to get rid of them.
7)Case History Ė this course develops the studentís skill in obtaining a comprehensive patient health history and the proper documentation for the patient record. Patient confidentiality and legal responsibilities in record documentation are stressed. The course also includes an introduction to narrative composition. This class will be very useful in my future chiropractic career. The case history is the first thing that is done once the patient walks in the health center for the first time. When all of you guys began care with Dr. Chad, he took you in the middle room where the couches are and asked you several things such as why you came into the office, what medications you are currently taking, family history and so on. This is very important for the doctor to know in some situations so itís vital for the patients to be honest and open with their doctor.
So, thatís the summary of all the classes we completed this quarter. Like I previously mentioned, this was by far the most challenging quarter. Iím looking forward to the next quarter where the intensity should tone down a little bit. After the last day of finals, I raced home as fast as I could and began my much needed 3 week vacation. The first week, I spent a few days in my hometown of Mooresville, NC and hung out with family and friends basically just going brain dead. I would wake up in the morning, lift weights or run, then go to the pool the majority of the day. I didní't mind sitting around for countless hours not doing ANYTHING, as long as I wasnít studying. After that, I went to the mountains a few days with my girlfriend and parents to get away for a bit. Itís really peaceful up in the Appalachian mountains, thereís just something different when youíre up there. The people are different, everything about just seems simpler. If you have never been hiking or even just drove on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I would highly recommend it. The way God paints the sky over the mountains every day is a beautiful thing. After the two days in the mountains, my family and I made the 12+ hour trip down to Fort Lauderdale, FL for the week!
The beach was awesome! The weather wasnít always that great while we were down there, but that didnít stop me from hanging out in the sand and crashing into the waves while throwing a football with my little bro. It was a great week to rewind and relax with the family. After the Florida trip, we made the 12+ hour trip back home to Mooresville to enjoy the fourth of July weekend. We had to stop and load up on fireworks in South Carolina beforehand of course. On Sunday night, a few good friends and I drove down to the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Charlotte to see Zac Brown Band play. It was an awesome show! They did a really great job, and since it was the 3rd of July, folks in Charlotte were lighting fireworks in their neighborhoods behind the amphitheater, what a great sight with great music with great friends.
Then, the final week of my vacation, we just hung with family and friends and enjoyed the time together before having to head back for another quarter at Sherman College of Chiropractic. My girlfriend and I celebrated 5.5 years of being together this past week and she just left today for a 4-month long mission trip to Uganda to help serve orphans and build an orphanage. She recently graduated from UNCW and just hopped on multiple planes today on her way to Africa. If anyone is interested, she can be followed on her blog through the following website: http://faithhopeandlove-bb.
So, onto 5th quarterÖ We have three classes in the health center this quarter which is exciting! Especially since the last four quarters we have had all every single course in the main academic building. After completing a year at Sherman, it feels like we have the routine and all the ropes pretty much down. A lot of the days seem repetitive going class to class for 8 hours a day seeing the same professors every day. Itís very easy to get burnt out and lose that fire that was so passionately burning the first and second quarter. However, itís also easier to get more excited since every day we are getting closer and closer to getting to the health clinic and getting out on our own. Speaking of getting burnt out, all the guys in my quarter just planned a weekend island trip on some lake in South Carolina for next weekendÖ everyone is already tired of this new quarter and are not ready to let summer go, haha. I love my classmates.. itís easy to get annoyed with one another every once in a while (8+ hour per day Monday-ThursdayÖ shortened days on Fridays). But, I love them all, theyíre all great people and we'íve become a close group. Thereís a good core of guys in there that I canít imagine going to school every day without them. They help keep me motivated and driven to better myself every day and never quit. Itís good to find that type of camaraderie here at chiropractic school, compared to undergraduate where you are just a number and you are competing against the people sitting next to you in order to stay on the upper part of that bell curve. Chiropractic school is nothing like that.. Itís a group effort. No lie, thereís been several cases where we have asked professors to move big exams to the week after because someone was struggling or couldn'ít be ready for the exam in time. Itís an awesome feeling that weíre all trying to accomplish the same goal and get through it together.
As you most probably know, chiropractors are in somewhat different of a profession. For example, most chiropractors are entrepreneurs, or that they run their own office and are self-employed. As I am getting through this program, I have only come to realize I am getting closer and closer to that peak which we call graduation, then will be out on my own with 150,000 dollars worth of debt at 7% interest in a questionable economy. It makes it seem like every positive of being a self-employed chiropractor can also be a negative. For example, Iím my own boss. I can do what I want in a sense, I can work how many hours my soul desires, and sleep in on Fridays if I choose to make every weekend a three day weekend. On the other hand, Iím my own bossÖ haha. For a 22-year-old kid who still feels like heís 17 sometimes, that can be somewhat of a gut-check every once in a while. I have been taking nothing but science courses since high school in order to prepare me for this very long and enduring journey of undergraduate work and chiropractic school. I donít know the first thing about running my own business. Thereís only so many books you can read or advice you can take from others, but I feel like nothing will replace that excitement/butterflies in my stomach when I open up a practice and am out on my own with a huge roof of debt over my head. Another cool little thing that comes with being a chiropractor is, if I want to be self-employed, I can CHOOSE to practice anywhere I want in the 50 states or any country. Thereís no restrictions. So, thatís an advantage, right? Then again, thereís so many options that it can be somewhat stressful at times. At some times when Iím reflecting on life and my journeys through school, I figure, I only live onceÖ why not live EXACTLY where I want to live?? For example, the beautiful Atlantic Ocean on the outer banks, the breathtaking Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, heck, why not live in a mini-paradise and just move to Key West or Key Largo? Sometimes, I tell myself to be humbled and strengthened by where my roots are and never forget where youíre from. Wherever I go, there are going to be people that need Upper Cervical Care and are unaware that they are slowly degenerating and dying due to an upper cervical subluxation. So the endless options can somewhat be stressful, sometimes I wish it was all taken care for me like many jobs where they tell you where you have to work, (therefore basically where you live), you get this much pay, and hereís your retirement fund provided for you.
But, itís important to think beyond this stuffÖ itís important to not get caught up in that and stay focused on the goal of caring for as many patients as I can in wherever location God points me to. Funny thing is, I always put a bible passage at the end of my quarterly blogs. Last quarter, I talked about what Jesus said in the book of Matthew about not worrying and being anxious about things in life, for God will always take care of us. So, thatís always a reality check, I canít always practice what I preach, which makes me a hypocrite. But, grace is an amazing gift. Just have to have faith and trust. I just have to be patient and listen and go to where He wants me to go. I just wish I knew right now and had everything laid out like a story book. But, thatís not the case and thatís one of the great blessings of waking up every day. You donít know whatís going to happen. Our stories havenít been written yet. Every day is a NEW DAY. Why worry and stress about the future? It doesní't add a single moment to our lives by worrying about other daysÖ plus, stress can play a huge role in subluxations, hahaÖ just ask students after taking final exams or an employee trying to reach an important deadline.
So, enjoy the ride. Life is a gift, not a privilege. Be grateful for each new day and new breath and get better every dayÖ every day, spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Please be sure to thank Dr. Chad for keeping us all subluxation free and letting one of Godís most beautiful creations (the human body) work at optimal levels, without interference.
ďBlessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding, for the gain from her is better than gain from silver, and her profit better than gold. She is more precious than jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed.
The LORD by wisdom founded the earth; by understanding he established the heavens; by his knowledge the deeps broke open, and the clouds drop down the dew.Ē