By Jude Miller, DC (’11), MS (’11), CCSP, ICSC, CME
The journey to becoming a chiropractor has many possible paths, each filled with unique experiences, challenges and rewards. During the educational experience, the ideal scenario would be to explore various settings and populations to work with.
While most chiropractors focus on general population, others may choose to focus on functional medicine, pediatrics or working with athletes. Focusing on sports medicine is a very rewarding specialty that allows chiropractors to treat a variety of ages and skill levels. I’ll share my own journey in becoming a sports chiropractor and some of the exciting opportunities available to students currently.
At age 19, after a decade of practicing martial arts and sustaining two knee injuries that required surgery, I was told I would need a more substantial surgery in the next few years if I wanted to be able to function. Searching for answers and different options, I found a sports chiropractor who evaluated my knee and back. After a few visits where he adjusted my foot, knee and spine and gave me a rehab program, I soon was feeling better than I did prior to my first surgery. At this time in my own education, I was contemplating medical, PT or chiropractic school. After my personal experience and a few professional shadowing opportunities, I decided to pursue chiropractic for a fulfilling career that would allow for a healthy work-life balance.
The decision to attend Logan University was an easy choice due to the opportunity to also pursue a Master of Science in Sports Science & Rehabilitation. My early days as a student at Logan were spent in the research department and at a variety of post-grad seminars offered by Logan or other industry organizations. As a student intern, maximizing my exposure to complex cases was paramount — from the inaugural class of student interns in the Biofreeze Center serving local and regional sporting events, to the VA Spinal Cord Injury Unit & Interdisciplinary Pain Management Group, as well as observations in surgical and hospital rotations. Upon DC and MS graduation in 2011, I felt confident in opening my own practice immediately. Communicating and collaborating with patients’ medical team is crucial to securing our place as chiropractors in the greater health care landscape.
For seven years, I owned Active Family & Sports Chiropractic in East Tennessee. During that time, I took care of athletes of varying ages and experience levels, including serving as the team chiropractic physician for a community college. In 2018, I began my role as the team chiropractic physician for the University of Memphis in partnership with Logan University as an Advanced Practice Clinician faculty member.
Working full-time as part of a Division 1 sports medicine staff has been very rewarding. Not only do I take care of world-class athletes on a daily basis, I also have the opportunity to educate future chiropractors on how to function in a sports environment and the value of interdisciplinary care. The sports medicine team spans multiple physician specialties, athletic trainers, physical therapists and EMT/paramedics, serving 20 sports. Being part of a large interdisciplinary sports medicine staff is a unique opportunity filled with rewards and challenges. Being able to co-manage patients and learn from other talented health care providers has allowed me to improve my own clinical and diagnostic acumen. It has also helped to expand my vison of providers’ roles within a team and understand when to utilize other professions when their skill sets may be better suited to benefit the patient. Knowing your role on a team, having clear lines of communication and expectations, mastering soft skills, and having a diverse and broad understanding of diagnosis and treatment are essential skills to work in this environment. A well-functioning integrated sports medicine staff provides far superior care than an athlete who is only managed by a sole provider in isolation.
Logan is leading the way by offering unique and exceptional experiences in sports medicine through partnerships such as the one I lead with the University of Memphis, participating on a global scale in sporting events and organizations and by diversifying academic offerings and degree programs.
About Dr. Miller
Jude Miller, DC (’11), MS (’11), CCSP, ICSC, CME is an advanced practice clinician for Logan and on-site chiropractic physician for the University of Memphis, providing chiropractic care to student athletes and overseeing training for Logan Doctor of Chiropractic student interns. As part of the University of Memphis team, Dr. Miller works closely with athletic trainers, non-surgical and surgical orthopedists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists and internal medicine specialists. He said the interdisciplinary setting allows for more interaction, knowledge and experience-sharing as they discuss best practices for athlete treatment and care. Dr. Miller is a member of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) and the International Federation of Sports Chiropractic as well as the Tennessee state coordinator for the ACA Sports Council and a continuing education committee member of the Tennessee Chiropractic Association.