8th Trimester: Into the World
Short of graduation, there is no landmark in chiropractic college more highly anticipated than the beginning of 8th trimester. It is the K2 to graduation’s Everest, the delayed opening to graduation’s snow day, the Peyton to graduation’s Brady, the table wine to a graduation’s Cabernet Sauvignon. That is to say, not the pinnacle, but still pretty outstanding.
Having just completed T8 myself, I can say that this anticipation is well deserved. We transitioned quite dramatically from spending 24 hours in lecture halls in each week of T7 to spending as many hours in treatment rooms this semester. Here’s a rundown of my own 21.5-credit schedule from January to April:
- Clinical Service Phase I – 12 credits, 22 hours per week
- Clinical Psychology – 2 credits
- Concepts in Pharmacology – 2 credits
- Applied Ethics of Chiropractic – 1 credit
- Chiropractic Office Billing Essentials – 0.5 credit
- Basics of Whole Food Nutrition – 3 credits, 3 hours/week
- Tunnel Syndromes Diagnosis and Management – 1 credit, 1 hour/week
More dramatic than the transition in schedule type, though, is the actual move into the full-time clinic setting. NYCC has four outpatient clinics around the state of New York, so for many of us, it means literally moving to clinic. Naturally, on our home campus along Cayuga Lake we have the Seneca Falls Health Center serving the community, and the Campus Health Center serving students, faculty and staff. Several hours south on Long Island, the Levittown Health Center serves the community surrounding our school’s former location, from which it moved in 1991. And moving west from Seneca Falls along I-90, the Rochester Health Center and the Depew Health Center serve the Rochester and Buffalo areas, respectively.
During our 5th trimester we had the opportunity to select our preference of clinics, and I chose the Rochester location, the smallest and newest of the health centers. Here I have spent my time developing a better understanding of patient experience and clinical documentation, grilling our clinician with questions, and completing online assignments in my down time.
Online classes are inherently, er… less than engaging. However, I did find that I was able to reap insight from them when I put in the time to understand their objectives on my own. Pharmacology is essentially an overview, but I picked up on a few patterns very relevant to my patients. For example, looking at a prescription list from one patient, I realized that side effects had a great influence on the prognosis for low back pain. Ethics helped me to articulate some of the ways that I hope to contribute to my future community and profession. Our billing class, while tedious at times, did leave me with some basic new information about how to structure the business side of my practice.
A highlight for me, each week I traveled to the Rochester VA Outpatient Clinic for one long, full day. Alongside a doctor, resident, and other interns I treated a full schedule of veterans for a range of biomechanical injuries and pains. With such problems representing the most prevalent issue for America’s returning soldiers, this clinic was very busy, and the work was very rewarding.
Rewarding, too, is the short break at home that I’ve enjoyed between semesters. On Wednesday I return to Rochester for my penultimate semester as a chiropractic student. There are no more breaks between now and graduation. Everest, here we come.