The Long Way Home:Dr. Martha Kaeser’s Journey from Education to Chiropractic
For Dr. Martha Kaeser, the saying is true: Home is a place whereyou grow up wanting to leave and grow old wanting to return.
After years of travel and exploration, Dr. Kaeser, director of Logan’s new Assessment Center, is now back living in her treasured childhood home in Belleville, Ill. As she envisions the great potential of Logan’s Assessment Center, she reflects on her past and recognizes that her unique experiences, in addition to her lifelong love of education and wellness, will mold her success at the college.
Dr. Kaeser’s introduction to education came at a wilderness program in Texas where she counseled students struggling with
emotional and behavioral problems. She went on to earn her teaching certificate in special education and taught throughout
Texas and Nevada.
Her time teaching disadvantaged students influenced her philosophy regarding the importance of mentoring in education. “Everyone deserves a second chance,” she said. “I believe that with strong mentoring, people can truly achieve their dreams and
find success in their own way.”
Always in search of the next big challenge and adventure, Dr. Kaeser joined the Peace Corps in 1994, learned the Arabic
language in three months and moved to Tunisia to train native teachers on techniques to educate students with physical and
mental disabilities. “The experience was so different than what I was used to,” she said. “Everything was new. Because of the language barrier, I learned to use my hands in conversation and to explain my thoughts.”
It was then that she began to appreciate her hands and their ability to communicate. Later, as a chiropractic physician, she said
she came to also recognize the healing power of her hands. After returning to the U.S., Dr. Kaeser earned her master’s
degree in education and made yet another move—this time to Washington state. It was here she developed a new career-based
education center for high school students at risk of dropping out of school.
“The center was so important to me,” said Dr. Kaeser. “I worked to address each student’s individual challenges and helped them
overcome those barriers.”
A New Sense of Purpose
Following several years in Seattle, Dr. Kaeser’s life’s journey took an unexpected turn as she was called home to care for her
mother, Betty, who was battling colon cancer.
During this important time in Dr. Kaeser’s life, she consulted with her mother’s physicians and specialists, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that something was missing. “I respected my mom’s health care team, but I felt that her care was lacking a true holistic approach to help her feel better throughout the process,” she said. “My mother underwent chemotherapy and radiation, but there was no mention of nutrition, exercise, acupuncture or soft-tissue work. I knew these solutions could be effective in treating her symptoms.”
Dr. Kaeser was familiar with the benefits of chiropractic care because her father, Ralph Kaeser, DC, was a practicing chiropractor in Belleville until his death in 1977. When her mother passed away in 2002 from complications of cancer, Dr. Kaeser was
determined to help others get the complete care they deserved through chiropractic.
She enrolled at Logan to become a Doctor of Chiropractic. “I first followed in my mother’s footsteps as an educator because she was also a teacher,” Dr. Kaeser said. “Now, I’m following in my father’s footsteps, and I’m excited to collaborate with other medical professionals to give patients the best care possible.” She graduated with honors in 2008 and, under the guidance of
Dr. Norman Kettner, chair of Logan’s Department of Radiology, completed both her radiology residency and fellowship programs
in diagnostic imaging.
A Vision for Logan’s Assessment Center
Dr. Kaeser welcomes her new role as the director of Logan’s state-of-the-art Assessment Center. She believes her new
responsibilities perfectly combine her experience in academia and her rekindled love of chiropractic care. “The Assessment Center is truly an exceptional facility where Logan students obtain valuable clinical and patient care experience,” she said. “These experiences will make them that much more advanced.”
In the new Assessment Center, eight individual examination rooms surround a central viewing area, where faculty members
can observe the examination without disturbing the internpatient interactions. Once a patient encounter is complete, Logan faculty can offer immediate feedback of an intern’s performance in addressing the required clinical competencies.
“My goal is to immerse students in the patient care experience at the very start of the doctorate program,” said Dr. Kaeser.
“Tri-1 students will have the opportunity to work with a mentor and develop skills to assess a patient’s individual needs.”
Dr. Kaeser is continually approached by Logan faculty and clinicians who are excited to take advantage of the Assessment
Center for their own coursework and training. “This is everyone’s Assessment Center,” said Dr. Kaeser. “The programs will evolve with direction from Logan’s instructors and students. The possibilities are endless.”
Home at Last
Each day, as Dr. Kaeser wakes up in her childhood home, which still houses chiropractic tables from her father’s practice, she recognizes that she has gone a long distance to come back home. “Helping to bring high-quality chiropractic care to patients is
my new mission and passion,” she said. “It just feels right. This is home.”