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My Summer Internship

About the Author

Profile_RachelRachel Weaver is a rising senior at the University of Delaware majoring in Neuroscience.

After graduation from university in the Spring of 2018, she plans on attending graduate school to obtain a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy.

This summer, she spent seven weeks as an intern at First State Health & Wellness in Delaware.

Experience at First State Health & Wellness

This summer, I spent seven weeks as an intern at First State Health & Wellness. As a neuroscience major, I had my reservations about my position in a chiropractic office because I knew so little about the practice. It wasn’t too long before I realized the impact this internship would have on my future studies and career endeavors.

Week One: Early Thoughts

The Newark office was intimidating at first. My three years of undergraduate study were no match for the experience of the doctors and other individuals on staff. I felt like a fish out of water in an environment that was entirely new to me. During my first week, I noticed a shelf of books and magazines in the therapy room. One book in particular highlighted the relationship between the spine and the nervous system and how each plays a role in optimal health. This prompted me to do some research to determine how my background in neuroscience could carry over into my internship at a chiropractic office. I discovered an undeniable connection between the two fields of study

The Underlying Neuroscience of Chiropractic Medicine

Sure, neuroscience involves the study of the brain, but many people fail to realize that the field of neuroscience encompasses the entire nervous system. The nervous system is a network of cells and fibers which are responsible for transmitting signals to and from different parts of the body. However, the nervous system must be healthy and unimpeded in order for these signals to be correctly conducted. Because the nervous system affects all parts of the body, chiropractors believe that interferences within the nervous system cause a multitude of musculoskeletal problems and other ailments. They use manipulations along with different forms of alternative treatment methods to realign bones and joints to relieve the irritation, pressure, pinching, or stretching that is causing a blockage. A healthy flow of energy throughout the nervous system promotes a healthy body. As part of my studies, I spend a lot of time reviewing the nervous system, which helped me to follow and understand the chiropractors I observed.

Building Confidence

I spent much of my time shadowing the chiropractic technician on staff. He took me in on the consultations and exams of patients either visiting a chiropractor for the first time or returning for a reexamination. Over the course of a few days, I closely observed his procedures and the way in which he interacted with his patients. After a few of the exams he had me recap the visit for the chiropractor. Luckily, I always paid attention. Without even realizing I was picking up on the terminology and the process he went through with each of his patients.

Eventually, he handed me the clipboard before entering a patient room and asked, “do you have your pen?” I started asking the questions, jotting down notes in chicken scratch as fast as I could, and he would finish with the physical exam. Although at times I was reluctant to be the one interacting with patients, I do acknowledge that the best way to learn is through doing. Little by little I was feeling more confident conducting patient consultations; a skill that will prove useful in my future career.

The Traveling Intern

Much of my time during the internship was spent in the Newark office, but a couple of weeks allowed me to visit other offices in the area. First State Health & Wellness is made up of seven unique offices throughout Delaware including the addition of a new Integrative Health Center. Every office presented something unique; whether it was the décor, the relationships between the staff members, or the variety of treatment options. Regardless of location, the staff was always welcoming towards the “intern.” Because each office offers different services, I had the opportunity to observe different procedures. I even got to try some treatments first-hand. I took particular notice of how personal the treatment style of each individual doctor was. Yet somehow with such a diversified staff, they all seemed to come together under the same umbrella to provide healing and wellness through alternative medicine to each and every patient.

Adjustment

My first ever adjustment took place during the last week of my internship. I had watched the chiropractor, but never found myself face down on the table until then. Being that it was my first adjustment, the chiropractor took it easy on me. I imagine the neck adjustment takes a little getting used to. The sound of my head being twisted in directions I didn’t even know possible was completely foreign to me. My main concerns were headaches and neck pain, but it didn’t take long before he was pointing out a misplaced vertebra or an area that was jammed up.

I always knew I had a multitude of musculoskeletal complications, but I never thought about seeing a chiropractor about them. I now know these doctors have the magic touch to fix just about any issue. One of the chiropractors on staff showed me something fascinating…I watched in awe as he determined issues within a patient’s organs by feeling for a weakness in her ability to resist a force on her arm. He described the way in which the body often knows what it needs more than the doctor or the patient themselves. Before exiting the room, he asked me about an issue with my shoulder. A simple test of my range of motion proved the tightness I was feeling. He told me to cross my arm in front of my chest, stepped up behind me, and pulled. Instantly the range of motion in my shoulder had improved. Just like magic.

The Three Minute Freeze

Cryo_InternRachelBeing a competitive swimmer for fifteen years, I’ve had my fair share of injuries. I deal with aches and pain in my knees, hips, and shoulders. Without access to a pool, I have taken to running, which certainly hasn’t been easy on my knees. While at the Christiana office, I stepped into a -300° F chamber pumped full of nitrogen mist. The cryotherapy treatment only persisted for three minutes, but the results were lasting. After I regained feeling in my limbs and the redness subsided, I felt awake and energized. I had heard from the staff to pay particular attention to my sleep that night. When my alarm went off at 7:30 the next morning, I wasn’t clambering for the snooze button. The difference was I had not spent my night constantly shifting in and out of sleep. I made my way to the treadmill as I do every morning preparing to sweat myself to exhaustion. This time, I had to stop running because I ran out of time, and not because I was too drained to carry my body any further. Somehow, the chamber gave me superpowers!

Fixing my Foundation

Being that First State Health & Wellness is the only distributor of these custom fit orthotics on the east coast, I had to have a go at a foot scan! I have never paid attention to foot discomfort, uneven wearing on my shoes, or various body pains due to an uneven distribution of my body weight. To my surprise, my foot scan revealed severely flattened out arches. Clearly, I was in need of a little support. I designed my custom fit orthotics with the chiropractic technician I had been shadowing in the Newark office and I had them in my shoes within a few days. My newfound arch support was subtle, yet efficient. As they say in the office, “you wouldn’t build a house on a bad foundation.”

New Changes

My internship could not have come at a better time. I have witnessed the development of the new Integrative Health Center in Wilmington. When starting at First State Health & Wellness, I didn’t realize the extensive work that goes on behind-the-scenes to build a company. Not only have I watched the office space transform into a beautiful and serene wellness center, but I have seen how much work goes into designing logos, scheduling classes, planning open houses, and purchasing merchandise. Being a neuroscience major, I never realized how fascinated I would be with marketing. I was unaware of the scope of the offerings available to patients. I knew I was going to learn about bones and joints, but there are so many aspects of alternative medicine that go into sustaining healthy people. I believe I have a new appreciation for food, supplements, nutrition, and the composition of products I put on and into my body.

Making a Difference

I think the most gratifying part of my internship experience was hearing success stories from countless patients. The scope of chiropractic medicine expands well beyond adjustments.

Chiropractors play a valuable role in helping people curb drug addictions, recover from car accidents, regain strength, and maintain a healthy lifestyle, all without the use of medication and surgical procedures. I have watched first-hand the doctors give patients their lives back. To be a part of First State Health & Wellness as an undergraduate student has opened my eyes to a practice I knew so little about. I can only hope that someday I will walk out of work each day knowing that I have made a difference in my patients’ lives.

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