Are all chiropractors the same? Not at all. This is Kikuko's co-op reflection after doing a practicum at MacKenzie Chiropractic.
Here I was, in my last semester at SFU, and stuck on whether I wanted to graduate with a Co-op degree designation or just get my degree over with. After discussions with Cheri and Darleen, my supportive Co-op advisors, I decided to apply for another Co-op placement, though my prospects looked dim as I was only available to do a 4 month placement. Weeks of looking led me to a posting from MacKenzie Chiropractic, looking for a chiropractic assistant. I did not have the slightest idea of what chiropractors did, or what kind of work would be asked of me. Still, the prospect of working in a clinic excited me, and I applied for the position with a positive outlook and in hopes of learning what chiropractors do. Little did I know that this position would change my views on my degree completely!
MacKenzie Chiropractic is nestled in Coquitlam along Austin Avenue, surrounded by local businesses. That is what working at this chiropractor’s office feels like: you are part of the local community. The clinic is quite small, but is filled with the most hardworking people I have met. Dr. David MacKenzie, the owner and the main chiropractor at the location, has been a chiropractor for around 40 years! (If that does not scream out dedication, I do not know what does.) He also works alongside Dr. Heather Hoskin, three amazing office assistants (Sarah, Krystal, Daniela), and another Spinal Decompression assistant Raluca, who all love working at the office and has made my stay at MacKenzie Chiropractic an unforgettable experience.
As a chiropractic assistant, I help patients with spine problems hands on. Dr. MacKenzie is in charge of the Spinal Decompression Institute, where we use state-of-the-art spine decompression machines, including the DRX9000, which helps patients with myriad of spine problems. Dr. MacKenzie was the first Canadian doctor of Chiropractic to bring the technology from the States, and they have helped thousands of patients all around British Columbia. Many of his patients come to his help as a last resort, whether from years of pain or from a failed back surgery.
The DRX9000 machine provides negative pressure which target a specific level in the patient’s spine (lumbar or cervical), and can help bring herniated disks back in, promote regeneration of degenerated disk material, alleviate sciatic pain, and overall help bring stability back into the spine.
In conjunction with the decompression, I assist with the Laser Therapy, which promote recovery to the injured area. The laser therapy works by targeting the injured area with a specific wavelength of cold laser, which has been found to help promote blood flow for faster recovery, reduce inflammation, and reduce pain. I’ve learned quite a lot about these treatment options available for those suffering with pain and I have seen the difference it makes with the patients.
One of the highlights of my co-op practicum here has been when I met a lady who was suffering from back pain for years. She initially came to the clinic with a cane and leaning heavily on one side due to her spine being misaligned. After a month or so on the treatment program, she told me how great she felt, and she could walk without her cane! She’s not the only one: I witnessed so many patients coming in with pain and leaving the program basically pain-free. Knowing that you have helped a patient progress is very satisfying, and makes your work more valuable. Yes, sometimes you might want to go back to bed at 6:30AM, or you may not always have a smile on your face when you encounter patients who are not as friendly due to their chronic pain. Although sometimes challenging, the rewards of the helping patients really stay with you and make your day worthwhile.
The most valuable aspect of this position for me is how this experience has changed my outlook on my career. Because of this position, I have learned that I want to pursue a career in some sort of therapeutic work, such as an Occupational Therapist. I would love to see the changes I can make in the community. It may take me a couple more years for me to be able to apply for programs like occupational therapy, but I am willing to take the extra years in order for me to help people hands on.
I want to say the biggest thank you to Dr. MacKenzie and his staff at MacKenzie Chiropractic. Nothing tops this experience in my years at SFU, and I am glad I am finishing my degree with this wonderful opportunity.