Ramona Rolle-Berg, a PhD student in the Saybrook University College of Mind-Body Medicine, recently completed a practicum placement with chiropractor Mark R. Marquardt, JD, DC, FACO. That placement was filled almost to-the-brim with copious learning opportunities that smoothly mixed the experiential with the didactic. Dr. Marquardt opened his office and practice to her, bringing her into patient interactions multiple times each day of her placement, exposures which afforded her the opportunity to develop a good understanding of the broad range of presenting complaints in a practice that caters to an array of afflictions and ages.
As in the time-honored Socratic method, Dr. Marquardt posed questions after patient encounters, questions that Ms. Rolle-Berg had to seek answers to using her laptop and the internet as her resource during between-patient times. He also provided her with an introductory exposure to the use of TENS Units (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation) in the management of chronic pain, Stim Units (Muscle or Neuromuscular Electrical Nerve Stimulation) for preventing disuse and atrophy of musculature, Cold Lasers for bone and muscle regeneration, and Spinal decompression units for herniated disc relief.
Dr. Marquardt taught Ramona how to read an MRI using actual patient films, discussed the importance of patient compliance in the overall management plan he develops for each patient, and spoke about nutrition and its importance to the maintenance of overall well-being.
They spoke at length throughout the practicum about chiropractic technique, including the critical importance of a detailed history during patient intake. He showed her how to take and develop X-rays, and provided examples using patients she had met, so that she could connect the resulting X-ray films with her knowledge and her visual representation of the injury as presented by the patient. As Dr. Marquardt has earned an additional chiropractic specialization in orthopedics and a certification in acupuncture, his questions to her ranged broadly, and thereby expanded her understanding of chiropractic considerably.
As a lawyer, he is often called as an expert witness, and in that vein, Dr. Marquardt and Ramona discussed not only the historical animosity between chiropractors and the AMA, but also the type and extent of oversight needed to protect patients from spinal injury when opting for the increasingly popular laser spine surgery provided by for-profit laser institutes. The hours sped by, and provided her with an experience of inestimable importance.
Three specific learnings: (1) pain is the last thing to show up, the first thing to leave, (2) patients hear on conscious and subconscious levels – the treatment team must therefore be very vigilant of word choice, and (3) taking a good history is critical to the onset of treatment.
Three insights struck her as particularly impactful: (1) the simpler the solution toward health, the greater the likelihood that patients will attempt and stick to a new regime until a habit sets in, (2) “I could be one of the richest doctors on the planet if I could get my patients to love themselves as much as they love their pets.” This verbatim statement illustrates how self-care isn’t valued by many patients, and (3) if you don’t like your health, change your diet. Dr. Marquardt believes that much of pathology can be traced to poor nutrition choices.
Ramona reports that this was a great practicum experience!