Logan graduate Dr. Josh Akin, team chiropractor for the Chicago Cubs, discusses chiropractic and winning the World Series

In a recent issue of The Tower, December 2006 Logan Doctor of Chiropractic graduate Josh Akin, DC, spoke about his career as the team chiropractor for the Chicago Bears and the Chicago Cubs as well as being the founder and clinical director of Chicago Chiropractic & Sports Medicine. 

In honor of the beginning of the 2017 MLB season, Dr. Akin spoke about his experience working with the Cubs during their World Series victory and what he looks forward to this season.

Last Fall, the Chicago Cubs ended the season as World Series Champions. What was it like to be a part of a team that made sports history?

"It was an amazing experience to say the least. While, I am not on the road for the regular season, I traveled to the away games in the playoffs. The atmosphere in the stadiums, both home and road, was unreal and I feel so fortunate to have been able to experience it from that perspective. 

Game 7 was what seemed like an entire playoff run all in that one night. To see the whole year of work, for everyone involved, come down to that level of drama was seemingly fitting and thankfully we came out on the right side. I saw the game from the stands, in the first handful of innings, and then the clubhouse and the level of excitement, was like nothing I had been part of prior."

How is chiropractic care a critical tool for injury prevention and performance improvement?

"As far as “care,” the biggest thing to address is the volume increase that time of year. Nothing is different in terms of treatment approach, however it is important to stay proactive with tools to help the players ahead of anything as the volume of games reaches such a high level. The full-time staff does an amazing job utilizing all of our tools (cryotherapy chambers, hyperbaric chambers, sensory deprivation tanks, etc. as well as all hands-on) I just truly try to be available if necessary. "

As the 2017 baseball season officially opens, what are the top three goals for keeping the Cubs in top condition?

"In returning for this season, I think with the shorter off-season it is most important to get into a routine of body maintenance for these guys. Compared to some years, this off-season, was up to 6 to 7 weeks shorter so making sure we are heading into 2017 as prepared as possible. We utilize the same proactive thinking process that I do in the clinic. The more we can screen, assess and hopefully catch to work on prior to any injury occurring is the absolute key. We will always have to deal with the unforeseen but the better we can prepare that player to tolerate the next season and its demand, ideally the fewer issues that will arise. "

Learn more about how you can become a chiropractor and work with athletes.

Logan graduate Dr. Justin Goehl leads Primary Spine Care at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center

Justin Goehl (2011 DC graduate and 2012 MS graduate) has become the first chiropractor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, New Hampshire’s only academic medical center which is affiliated with the fourth oldest medical school in the country. 

“For a long time, I was just winding and finding my way through the chiropractic profession,” said Dr. Goehl, who started in January and also serves as a Clinical Assistant Professor at Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College. “I’m now in what I consider to be my dream job with unlimited potential for growth.”

Dr. Goehl is responsible for helping create the Primary Spine Care program within The Center for Integrative Medicine embedded in the Department of Community and Family Medicine. The program offers an innovative approach to treating and triaging spine-related disorders with a focus on cost-effective, evidence-based, patient-centered outcomes.

In addition to treating patients, Dr. Goehl will identify research opportunities, especially in the area of comparing primary spine care to traditional spine care models for patient outcomes, cost and patient satisfaction. “This is just the first stepping stone of a bigger movement in integrative medicine. There are a lot of providers who are interested in this model and my goal is to help grow it,” he said. 

After earning his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Logan, Dr. Goehl graduated from the Veterans Administration residency program in Los Angeles, which he said was a career game changer. 

“It changed the way I perceived health care, chiropractic and the ability to create an integrated approach to care,” said Dr. Goehl. “Looking back, I am lucky to have been selected because the experience completely changed the trajectory of my career and where I could take my DC degree.”

It was through the VA that Dr. Goehl completed both a residency and six-month fellowship in primary spine care at Southern California University of Health Sciences. That experience made him a prime candidate for the new position at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. 

“Hiring a Doctor of Chiropractic has been a vision of the Center’s leadership for many years,” Dr. Goehl said. “It’s very exciting to be working with the college and primary care providers that have never had a chiropractor in their organization, let alone working side by side on their team.” 

Changes to Logan's Doctor of Chiropractic curriculum aim to make students better practitioners

Changes to Logan University’s Doctor of Chiropractic curriculum are providing students with an opportunity to have a deeper focus on clinical application and improve patient communications skills.

Vincent DeBono, DC, CSCS, dean of the College of Chiropractic, said one of the most significant changes for students is the implementation of a full day of clinic each week.

In January, Trimester 1 through 6 students shifted from a schedule of being in clinic for short periods of time throughout the week to either working with Standardized Patients in the Assessment Center or performing peer-to-peer treatment in the Foot Levelers, Inc. Clinic for one full day a week.

Dr. DeBono said the clinical day is designed to integrate early trimester students with more experienced students to provide both mentoring and education. The full day also provides the students bigger blocks of time to become more immersed in their practice.

“One of the things we always want to do is get in early clinical mentoring to help with making foundational science concepts applicable to chiropractic care. The clinical day accomplishes that,” he said. “Also, anytime an older trimester student can mentor a younger trimester student is a great learning opportunity. We always say, if you can teach it, you really know it.”

Dr. DeBono said the full day of clinic also provides students with vertical integration of the curriculum, allowing students to hear and see what they need to do to become successful DCs. Logan students will also see the expansion of off-campus field trips to put clinical skills into practice.

“It’s good for students to practice on each other, but also more complicated patients, where geriatric issues might come into play,” DeBono said. “We’re hoping to do these field trips with students two to three times a trimester.”

This past year students visited Paraquad to practice taking blood pressure and conduct orthopedic exams. A group of students also visited a nearby assisted living facility where they interviewed a handful of seniors on their medication history and vital signs. 

This year, in addition to visiting those facilities, Logan students will set up a clinic at Jefferson High School in Festus, Mo., to perform sports physicals. Lower trimester students will work with upper trimester students to gather information and conduct the physicals. Dr. DeBono hopes to connect with other high schools as well. 

“What we’re really seeing are changes to the organization of our program, rather than the content of our program, to allow both horizontal and vertical integration,” he said. “It’s all part of our goal to continuously improve the quality of our program.”

In 2015, Consumer Reports found that, of 1,200 patients surveyed about physician compassion and communication, one in four said they were not treated fairly and didn’t feel like they were being heard.

Over the last few decades, physician bedside manner, and even personal interaction has taken a backseat to technology. Despite that, patient satisfaction still plays an ever-important role in the delivery of quality health care.

Logan’s Director of Academic Assessment Martha Kaeser, DC, MEd, said developing communication skills is another component of the new clinical day at Logan. She said students are being taught the value of empathy in patient care—the impact of their words, how they communicate and connect with patients. 

“The biggest issue in medicine is training doctors who are caring for the patients,” Dr. Kaeser said. “Oftentimes, diagnoses are misunderstood or missed completely due to lack of communication. We are making sure those communication skills are in place early on.”

One of the tools Dr. Kaeser is using to explore empathy in chiropractic students is the Jefferson Scale of Empathy. While the scale has been adopted by schools of medicine, dentistry, osteopathy and nursing, it is relatively unknown among chiropractic schools.

“Research shows that by year three, empathy among students in medical and other health care programs begins to decline as they get more immersed in patient diagnosis and treatment. While on one hand they have the clinical knowledge, they lack the ability to demonstrate compassion,” she said. “What we want to do is collect baseline data before students start their coursework at Logan and then see where that level of empathy is by the end of their first year. Our thinking is if we immerse students immediately in opportunities to practice communication with patients in a clinical environment, we can maintain their level of excitement and empathy.”

Just as research suggests, Dr. Kaeser says lack of empathy results in lower satisfaction outcome, not only for the patients but also for the students. With the Jefferson Scale, students self-report their level of empathy, rating statements such as “Patients feel better when health care providers understand their feelings,” or “I believe emotions have no place in the treatment of medical illness.”

“We feel like we’re ahead of the game because this kind of training is just not being done in our profession,” Dr. Kaeser said.

In the next six to 12 months, Dr. Kaeser intends to delve into yet another area designed to improve the doctor-patient relationship: motivational interviewing and the concept of how to address diagnoses with patients.

“The thought of addressing things like obesity, tobacco cessation and alcohol moderation scares some students,” she said. “They think, ‘I don’t want to offend my patient,’ so we talk about how to open that dialogue in a way that makes the doctor and patient feel comfortable.

“Everything we do in the Assessment Center is designed to provide feedback to the students. We hope it has an impact on them, and more importantly, we hope it equates to greater patient satisfaction, successful outcomes and successful diagnoses.”

DC2017: A resident's perspective

Last week, Lacey Miller, DC, and Rebecca Skiljan, DC, MS, CCSP, both residents in Logan’s Human Performance Center, attended DC2017, a premier chiropractic conference in Washington D.C. featuring thought leaders on research, best practices and the future of the profession.

Each earned top awards for their research in sports chiropractic. Dr. Miller earned a FICS Original Research Award in the category of Best Student for “Sport-specific rehabilitation for a Paralympic rugby prospect: A case report.”

Dr. Skiljan received first place in the student poster presentation category for her research, “Chiropractic intervention and rehabilitative exercises in an adolescent with a recent incomplete spinal cord injury: A case report.” 

Here are their perspectives on attending the conference: