Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
A: I’m Jessie and I’m a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) student at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College in Toronto, Canada entering into my 3rd year of the program. I also completed a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Health Sciences. I run an Instagram account called Future DC Jessie (@future.dc.jessie) to document my journey through chiropractic school, raise awareness and educate the public about evidence-based chiropractic. I use my account to share the education of chiropractors, show the benefits of chiropractic treatment, and provide study tips for other chiropractic and medical students. I hope to inspire other young females to pursue chiropractic and to follow their dreams. When I’m not in school or running my IG account, I love playing sports and doing outdoor activities. I’ve always loved to exercise, I grew up playing competitive basketball and ultimate frisbee competing in provincial, national and international tournaments for both sports. I also really enjoy cooking and have recently taken up watercolour painting and creating digital illustrations.
Q: What is the earliest recollection you have of wanting to pursue chiropractic medicine and who do you think helped guide you towards this decision?
A: I’ve always been interested in the health and the well-being of others. I knew I wanted to work in the health and medical field since I was 12-13 years old. I loved studying science in elementary school, and then biology, chemistry and kinesiology in high school. I’m amazed by the complexities of the human systems that allow us to function daily without us even realizing it. It wasn’t until I was in university studying kinesiology and health sciences that I decided I wanted to pursue chiropractic medicine. In undergrad, I attended anatomy, biomechanics and athletic injuries courses and it further developed my passion about learning about the body. I realized I wanted to further expand my knowledge beyond my degree. Also, growing up as an athlete; I played basketball, ultimate frisbee, gymnastics, swimming, volleyball, soccer, track, and cross country. I often got injured and I would visit chiropractors and physiotherapists for therapy. During those experiences, I was exposed to the world of rehabilitation and manual therapy. I shadowed chiropractors, physiotherapists and athletic therapists in clinics and hospitals to decide if I could see myself working in their shoes. It was through the amazing chiropractors I shadowed that helped guide me towards my decision to study chiropractic medicine. I admire their approach to conservative management before the use of drugs and surgery to treat injuries and chronic conditions. Evidence-based chiropractors strive for patient-centered care to help relieve, manage and prevent pain. That’s when I decided I wanted to make an impact on people’s lives the way the chiropractors had on mine!
Q: How do you believe we can inspire more young girls to pursue STEM and specifically, what advice do you have for those looking to become a chiropractor? What do you wish you could tell your younger self?
A: Creating organizations and social media platforms with successful women in STEM and sharing their experiences can help inspire young girls to pursue their career goals. Encouraging women in STEM to share their stories on Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, and Twitter are great ways to reach young individuals. Leaders can use their platform to educate young girls about their field. They can reflect on the challenges they’ve faced and offer knowledge about how to overcome adversity. This can open conversations about how to be successful in STEM as a woman in the 21st century. Representation is crucial, when young girls see successful diverse women in STEM, they’ll be inspired to accomplish their goals because “if she can see it, she can be it”. Advice I’d give my younger self is to be brave and not focus on being perfect. Perfection is a myth. I would remind myself that it’s okay to try and fail, but most importantly to start again. It’s a cliché quote, but truly every failure is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Q: What challenges have you faced and/or continue to face in chiropractic college and how did you overcome them?
A: Chiropractors treat neuromusculoskeletal conditions by performing manual therapy. This includes adjustments, a type of therapy that requires the practitioner to apply a controlled and quick force to restricted joints to improve mobility and range of motion. As a woman studying chiropractic, I’m faced with challenges of body size and force disadvantages when performing adjustments on patients larger than myself. I personally am smaller and shorter than some of my male classmates. I’ve had many helpful female chiropractic professors, who have also personally experienced these issues, teach me to overcome these challenges. They have taught me how to use my body to gain more force and increase mechanical advantage when providing adjustments on larger patients. Their advice has increased my confidence in my manual skills in adjusting patients of all sizes. It’s inspiring to know there are many successful female chiropractors of all sizes that can adjust patients of all body types!
Q: How do you stay positive? What are your tips to achieving a successful work-life balance?
A: It’s challenging being in chiropractic school, studying 15 subjects at a time, working part-time through school, and trying to maintain balance in your life. To be successful in having a work-life balance, learning time management is essential. School is important, but scheduling time for your physical health, mental health, down time, quality time with friends, and sleep are necessary. I’ve learned that balancing your priorities is not the same as dividing your time equally among them. Also, how one person balances their priorities may not be the same as how you choose to balance yours. Juggling school, studying, a job, family time, friends time, down time, physical and mental health, and sleep can be overwhelming. Each of these priorities may take up a lot of time on their own. However, combining priorities is a great way to achieve your goals and improve productivity. For example, studying with a friend is a great way to combine studying and quality time with friends together to help stay balanced. The last important tip is making sure you have a good support system. Everyone has ups and downs in their life and being able to talk to someone about it can make you feel better. Social connecting can decrease anxiety, regulate emotions, increase feelings of purpose, and improve the immune system.
Q: Has mentorship played a role in your journey? If so, how?
A: Mentorship is a great way to have support and guidance in your personal and professional life. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mentor during my journey to chiropractic school. I searched for a female chiropractor that could share her experiences as a woman in a male dominated field, however I couldn’t find the right fit. Although, I didn’t specifically have a mentor, I’ve had people in my life collectively influence and provide advice along my path. These individuals have opened my mind to new ideas, identified opportunities and offered encouragement. There are numerous amazing organizations now that help provide young women mentorship in their prospective fields and careers of interest. A mentor can provide knowledgeable advice, networking opportunities, research guidance and increase confidence in professional successes. A mentorship is a partnership and both parties will gain value and grow.
Q: How have you changed during your undergraduate degree to now studying chiropractic medicine?
A: Throughout my education I’ve learned that it’s more important to focus on and develop a passion for learning instead of concentrating solely on grades. Grades are important to an extent, but do not define you. To become a chiropractor, I’ve completed 4 years of undergraduate studies and the chiropractic program is an additional 4 years. However, a chiropractor’s education doesn’t stop there. Chiropractors take additional courses over the span of their careers to stay updated with current evidence and gain new tools to use for treatment. This is true for anyone in the health field, it’s important to love learning because being in the medical profession requires lifelong learning. I’ve also learned to prioritize my physical and mental health. Setting time aside in your busy schedule for these priorities is crucial in order to take care of yourself and stay healthy. Trying a new gym class, working out with friends, using meditation apps, journaling, talking to a friend or counsellor are all great ways to take care of your mind and body.