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.  My hope is that it will give you all an idea of what a doctor of our type goes through to get where we hope to be and to do what we hope to do.  Josh's school breaks down into four quarters per year for three and a half years and he is about to enter quarter #4.  Without further ado, here's Josh...

Well, journal time means the end of the quarter and the beginning of a new one. Iím glad to say that third quarter was much easier than second quarter. What I have learned is that the curriculum eases up and gets very hard by odd and even quarters. The upper quarter students have also told me this. Therefore, 2nd, 4th, and 6th quarters are very challenging. However, 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th quarters are not as challenging or rigorous as the even quarters.

So, what did I learn during my 3rd quarter stay at Sherman College? Lots of cool and fun stuff! Hereís a list of all of the classes with brief descriptions that we completed last quarter.

Anatomy III with Lab- This class was a 9 hour per week course. We had one hour of lecture material every day, and had two hour lab sessions on both Tuesdays and Thursdays. The material covered everything a student would ever want to know about the arms, legs, and back. Everything from osteology, veins, arteries, nerves, and every muscle possible was tested during this course. It was a very rewarding course, but am glad to be done with it.

*** With that said, my fellow classmates and I are proud to announce that we are OFFICIALLY DONE with the cadaver lab! For the first nine months of the program, we spend four hours per week in the lab smelling formaldehyde and dissecting cadavers. Although it was fun and fascinating for the first two weeks of school, you can get tired of that smell real fast. ***

Neuroanatomy I- This was an awesome class with the famous Dr. Duke. I heard from another student that Dr. Dukeís classes are referred to as ďDuke UniversityĒ for the level of difficulty. Beginning in third quarter, he teaches one class per quarter for the next 12 months. So, every Monday-Friday we take down every note and hang on every one of Dr. Dukeís lecture material, thereís no telling whatís going to be on those finals! This class was extremely interesting and covered the basic anatomy of the Central Nervous System and Peripheral Nervous System. Material such as neurons, fibers, receptors, meninges, Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF), myelin, splanchnic nerves, segmental innervation, and structure of the nervous system summarizes the majority of the topics covered. This class is just an ease into course to get us ready for Neuroanatomy II in 4th quarter, which has the unofficial title of being the most difficult class in the entire Sherman program.

Abnormal Psychology- This class was fun and opened my mind to how many psychological disorders affect millions of people and their families all over the world. We learned about a large array of disorders, just to name a few: stress disorders, learning disorders, mental retardation, autism, schizophrenia, and eating disorders. It makes you feel sorry for those who have been affected by some of these life debilitating disorders, and at the same time grateful that I was learning this all for the first time.

Cardio Physiology Ė This was our first course with Dr. Maxim as our instructor. Heís this awesome, quiet professor with one of the strongest Russian accents you have ever heard. He seems very intimidating once you first meet him, but he actually is one of the nicest and understanding professors on the entire faculty.  This course taught us about the basic physiology of the heart. Topics that were covered in this were things such as the cardiac cycle, blood pressure, EKGís, cardiovascular disorders, filtration/reabsorption, and micro-circulation.

Nutrition- This was probably my favorite class of the quarter as I learned SO MUCH about nutrition! Being somewhat athletic, I have been very interested in food and what I put in my body since starting undergrad. Going into this class, I thought I was eating a pretty healthy diet. However, I learned so many helpful tips that helped me make my nutritional plans much healthier and better for me than before. This lecture course is a study of the major categories of food and their utilization by the body. The chemistry of vitamins and minerals is studied along with their biochemical relationship to enzymes. Nutritional deficiency disorders and suboptimal levels of nutrients are also discussed. Further consideration is given to promoting health and wellness of the U.S. population.

In the middle of this class right after mid-terms, we had to create a three-day nutritional journal and write down EVERY thing we ate for three consecutive days. Afterwards, we plugged everything into a computer program to tell us what we were deficient in or if we had too much of a certain vitamin or nutrient in our average diets. Turns out, I consumed a lot of calories and had very high levels of iron and zinc in my diet. Many people in our nation are anemic (low levels of iron), however, not having enough iron can have just as many negative effects as having too much iron, as it can put a lot of stress on our liver and kidneys. Good sources of iron are ANY kind of meats and spinach. However, there are also loads and loads of iron, zinc, and other minerals packed into a lot of fortified cereals. Cereals such as Total and Wheaties are advertised to be very healthy for you. However, if you eat more than Ĺ a serving of one of these cereals, you basically just took a multivitamin. These things are loaded with every vitamin and mineral and if you eat one bowl, you get possibly too much of these minerals and vitamins. Granted, most of us will simply urinate it out, but why put that extra stress on the kidneys? So, with that said, be careful or mindful of fortified cereals. Thereís nothing wrong with them. But, if you eat that every morning and tend to be a big meat eater, you are getting more than enough nutrients and are just putting stress on places in your body that there doesnít need to be. If you eat a somewhat balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, and meats, fortified cereals are totally unnecessary. I would recommend any type of whole-grain cereal, thereís dozens of them. Thatís only one thing I learned from this course, but I will not bore you with the rest.

Ok, never mind, I will bore you with the rest because I think it is important. However, this is not chiropractic! This is just some interesting stuff that I learned that can help benefit our bodies.

-Water is important! Maybe not 8 glasses like some people say. That can seem excessive on some days. However, when I tend to exercise strenuously, I can consume over 8 glasses without even thinking twice. But, drinking water is important! The middle of our intervertebral discs consist of 88% WATER! Can you imagine the negative potentials of being dehydrated when the discs that hold our spine together are 88% water? A lot of neck and low back pain simply come from compressed or herniated discs in our country. I am not saying that none of these people drink water, or it even is a correlation, but water definitely cannot hurt our bodies. Drink water!

With many people struggling with low metabolisms, here a few tips to spike your metabolism that are bullet proof.

-Right when you wake up, EAT! Even if you arenít hungry, EAT! When we first wake up, we have been sleeping from anywhere hopefully from 6-10 hours. This means when we wake up, our body is in a fasting state and our blood glucose levels are at all-time lows! Even if you are not hungry, get some complex carbohydrates and good protein in your stomach. This will jumpstart the metabolism and gets your body the proper fuels to begin the day.

-With that said, DONíT be eating right before bed or in the middle of the night. Unless, you are a wrestler or weightlifter of some type and are consciously trying to gain weight, we should not be eating right before bed. Our circadian rhythms are on the OFF side of the switch, our parasympathetic system kicks in more than compared to the day, and our bodies simply respond to food differently. For example, excess carbs late at night might not necessarily be stored for energy because we are about to go to sleep, so the body can just store it as adipose tissue (fat stores).

-Smaller meals! Eat five-six small meals per day, versus two or three LARGE meals. When we only eat one or two large meals per day, our body goes into starvation states and stores up food differently. Basically, the body doesnít know when it will get its next meal, so it stores many nutrients as excess glycogen and fats. On the contrary, if we eat every two-three hours, our bodies are constantly digesting and taking in new food, this will really spike your metabolism!

-Exercise of course! You can eat very healthy, but exercising is a very important component of health and wellness. Along with sleep. Our bodies grow, heal, recuperate when we 1) HOLD OUR ADJUSTMENTS and 2) when we sleep. I might journal more about sleep on my next entry if Dr. Chad has not touched on it in the past or doesnít plan on touching on it. The mechanism of sleeping is very important for the human body; we sleep 1/3 of our lives!

Ok, on with the next class, can you tell that nutrition was my favorite class?

Philosophy III- This lecture/discussion course is a continuation of Philosophy II. The course covers the principles of the chiropractic profession, as they are derived from chiropractic philosophy, the professionís practice objective as it is derived from its central area of interest, and the criteria of patient safety. Health enhancement versus disease treatment is discussed relative to the role of a doctor of chiropractic as a primary health care provider. The course also focuses on the vertebral subluxation, as the central area of interest in chiropractic, including its definition, what it entails, what it does not include and various other considerations.

Literature Search and Historical Review Ė this course provides a historical review of chiropractic research literature and details the current means by which to search for chiropractic literature. Students search scientific literature for representative articles for review and class discussion. We had to research and present several research articles, literature reviews, and case studies. All of mine were upper cervical focused J As I mentioned before, the majority of student are to be full-spine chiropractors, which is awesome. However, I have to keep bugging them and reminding them of the power of upper cervical. This class was one way I can remind them besides mentioning it every day in class, haha.

Toggle/Palpation III- this is the last introductory course for the toggle/recoil mechanism and palpation. In this class, we master the toggle/recoil mechanism and begin with muscle palpation! The first quarter dealt with static palpation, the second quarter dealt with motion palpation, (putting the spine through different motions to pick up on normal mechanisms and any musculoskeletal restrictions). This quarter, we learned how different muscles and ligaments affect the spine ranging from the atlas, all the way down to the sacrum. The first five weeks covered all the muscles and ligaments from the thoracics, lumbars, sacrum, and iliums. The last five weeks was just cervical muscles. We learned how to carefully palpate and examine the muscles that deal with the upper cervical subluxation. This was very interesting, but one thing I did learn in this course is the difference between a tight muscle and a muscle causing a misalignment. Even though more than a few muscles might indicate a certain misalignment, it is very important to still have x-rays taken from your chiropractor creating a three-dimensional picture of the misalignment, just like how Dr. Chad does. It can be very dangerous without x-rays. Now that we have completed all three courses for the toggle/palpation program, we are now officially starting the technique courses!! Guess what the first technique course is in the new Sherman curriculum? Upper Cervical Techniques! I will be learning and will become proficient in side-posture (What Dr. Chad does in the office) by the end of June! I am very excited about that, after this quarter, all I will need to learn is how to take x-rays and analyze them, and I will be on my way to being able to adjust people in the clinic in about 12 months!

So, thatís what I have been going through for the past 12 weeks. Just enjoyed a nice Spring Break and am now back in the swing of things as a FOURTH QUARTER chiropractic student! Speaking of Spring Break, it was phenomenal. First, after finishing our last exam of the quarter, all of my classmates and I rushed to our favorite Mexican restaurant down the street. We had some AMAZING food and drank a beer or two in celebration of our recent completion of another quarter at Sherman College of Chiropractic. Afterwards, I raced home to the mountains of North Carolina to be with the family. That night was the second night of the sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. My dad, little brother, and I really enjoy March Madness, so I rushed home as soon as I could after we were done eating. For the next few days, I basically just watched a lot of basketball and kind of sat around letting my brain relax from all of the late night studying.

On Wednesday of that week, I drove down to Wilmington, NC to see my girlfriend and spend some quality time with her. Get this, there was a healthcare career fair being held at UNCW (my alma mater) during the week of my Spring Break. All of the admissions representatives from Sherman were busy doing career fairs and information meetings at North Carolina State and East Carolina. So, since I am the only UNCW alum at Sherman College, the admissions department asked if I could represent the school at the career fair. I of course said yes, whatís better than representing my school while being at the beach for my Spring Break? The only down part was that the night of the career fair, the weather was awful! It started raining at 7:00 am and didnít stop all day or all night. The event was held on the opposite side from where all of the campus housing is. With that said, there wasnít exactly a huge crowd at the career fair. But, it was still a great experience and great exposure for myself and my school. I got to talk chiropractic with a few of UNCWís Freshmen and Sophomores. Itís amazing how some people donít even know what chiropractic is! Imagine trying to preach the very basics of chiropractic to people who have never heard of or been exposed to it. Then, think of Dr. Chad and explaining Upper Cervical to patients who have never even heard of chiropractic. I began talking Upper Cervical with a student and she was just completely lost, and I did not know how to approach it. It was a great learning experience for me, and it made me appreciate how good Dr. Chad and other Upper Cervical doctors are in preaching the very important message of what is Upper Cervical. So, after the career fair, I did plenty of relaxing and hanging out. I went to the beach several times, and spent some quality time with my best friends. It made me appreciate it the time I had at Wilmington and in some strange way, it reminds me that I have a long way to go in my journey. The secret is to just take one day at a time, and trust that God is in control. Every day is a gift, and nobody promises tomorrow. Cherish the small stuff with your friends and family, because there is no telling what will happen later on down the road.

Now Iím back here at Sherman plugging away. One day a time. It can get kind of tough waking up every morning at 7:00 am and sitting down 7 hours per day listening to professors try to stuff as much information as they can in our heads. But, every day we get a little smarter, a little more appreciative, and a little closer towards getting out there and serving by removing subluxations. Thatís the goal. Thatís the dream. See you next quarter in the summer time! I always like to end with some words of encouragement from the greatest book ever written, hereís what I thought I would share todayÖ

ďTherefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?Ē

Matthew 6:25-27 and 30