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Advice to New Chiropractic Students

by on September 5, 2013
1st Trimester chiropractic student

A 1st Trimester NYCC student on his way to a technique class, model spine in tow. Only at chiropractic college.

One year ago I began chiropractic school. I bought my books and supplies, set up my new dorm room, and got to studying.

Ok, so it was not quite that simple. But I definitely had an easier time than some students because of my upper-trimester roommates, who were a full year ahead of me as I began my first trimester. Throughout my time living with them they were easy to consult for advice on classes and life as a student. Now I am beginning my fourth trimester, and it is my turn to give back.

Here are a few tips to start off your year:

1) Don’t be a cheapskate.

Everything you buy now is going to continue to be relevant and useful once you go into practice. Go for the $120 “Scientific” model spine instead of the $65 “Budget” spine. You will get what you pay for, and you will need to bring that spine to class for several trimesters. Many of those “budget” spines (including my own) did not make it through a year without beginning to fall apart, and they are less functional for practicing moves because they are so stiff.

2) Know where to spend your money.

Note that my advice to get the good stuff also does NOT mean go crazy on spending. Shop around for your books and you will save money- at least consult Amazon. And there are books you might not need- “Behavioral Embryology of Nutrition of Exercising Microbes” might not be a useful reference in the future, though “Chiropractic Technique” and “Color Atlas of Anatomy” most certainly will.

3) On studying.

Let’s be honest, nothing I say here will change your study habits much. You will have a lot of quizzes, especially in basic science classes, and that will mean studying the appropriate material in preparation. However, the other classes and topics still need your attention, and it is extremely easy to fall behind by only attending to the immediate future. Ultimately, think in terms of exams, not quizzes, and the quizzes will begin to take care of themselves. Think in terms of a successful practice, and exams will begin to take care of themselves. Also, try to study a bit every weekend- but you don’t have to spend all weekend studying.

4) Food.

Since meal plans are required for all students, it starts in the dining hall. But the dining hall is not always open (leading to what has been dubbed “Starving Sundays”) so you’ll need a second plan. Downtown Deli is delicious, but I recommend keeping some food around to keep your diet cheaper, more available and more balanced- the dorms do supply refrigerators. You have a grocery trifecta at your disposal in Seneca Falls: (1) Sauder’s, the local Mennonite market, provides fantastic and inexpensive fresh food like veggies and chicken. Much as it pains me to mention them, (2) Walmart is an economic choice for items like cereal and ice cream, and (3) Top’s has it all, so they are a good one-stop if that’s all you have time for, though their prices are mixed. Oh, and if you don’t mind driving, Wegman’s in Auburn or Geneva is a beloved staple originating in Rochester, NY, and well worthy of their reputation.

5) Cursory classes.

Reflections on Chiropractic might not be exciting. The room might be really warm, and the seating in Delavan Theater might be pretty comfortable. But the speakers may just plant the seeds of ideas that make their way into your future practice. Seriously, these docs do some pretty amazing things. If you’re having a hard time getting interested in something, imagine you have to squeeze a blog post out of it- you can find some noteworthy bit in just about anything.

6) Oh, and finally, don’t listen to the advice of those upper-tri students. Everyone’s experience and style is different, and what do they know?

One-off wisdom from my classmates:

  1. Open lab is your best friend.
  2. Get a tutor. Yesterday.
  3. Use M&T Bank so you can get your whole loan check right away, without having to mail it home.
  4. Got great study materials? Share the wealth; the worst that could happen is that you’ll end up with better colleagues. That said, don’t rely on others’ materials.
  5. If you don’t score as well as you’d like, take a look at how much knowledge you have still accrued.
  6. Know that you don’t have to wait for the mid-class break to go to the bathroom.
  7. There’s no shame in changing tris, or taking classes on an atypical schedule.
  8. Find a way to study that truly works for you and is time efficient. Write it down and post it by your desk. Don’t waste your time trying to study the way someone else does. Take notes in your own words. Invest in pens/highlighters/markers/whatever that you enjoy using.
  9. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, and in the end, we’ll all be doctors, and we’ll all have connections and can specialize and refer patients according to those strengths and weaknesses.
  10. Don’t get caught up in the hysteria around midterms and finals. Do what you need to do in your way and trust yourself.
  11. Know everything for exams. Do not put your faith in what previous students say about the exams’ content and difficulty.
  12. Try not to neglect your friends & family outside school.
  13. Doing well on your midterms means security and mental health during finals.
  14. In the real world, people care about whether you can do your job well and get them better. Learn your s***, learn how to adapt to new research, and learn how to learn on the job- don’t freak out over a few tenths of a point on your GPA.


Have a suggestion I missed? Post it in the comments below! Thanks to everyone who contributed their tips. Pick up more tips this year by following the blog’s new page on Facebook!

> NEXT: First trimester schedule


From → All Posts, Tips

  1. CPB permalink

    One more piece of advice: always carry with you a small notepad to write down websites, books, references and practice building tips professors love to give. I know, you’re only in first tri, why would you need to care now? You don’t. But you’ll realize how fast time went by when you hit student clinic and you won’t remember all those “practice pearls” and business tips that may come in handy after grad…

    • This is really, really good advice. Getting all that information in the same place is hard if you don’t keep up with it, and there’s so much good material.

  2. Amber permalink

    LOL, Warm in Delavan?! It was always freezing when we were in there! A great list of advice though! And Brendan is right, don’t be a cheapskate on your equipment – it never pays off… However, I have gotten amazing deals on EBay for both equipment AND books. Spending as little as $10 on a brand new book! You can contact Brendan to get ahold of me if you need some EBay help 🙂

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