Chiropractic Community-Based Internship: Real-World Experience

Community Based Internship Real World Experience

Kelsey Lloyd, DC, at her clinic where she hosts NWHSU interns

NWHSU’s rigorous chiropractic school curriculum prepares you to excel in the field, but real-world practice is a critical complement to the classroom. Our renowned community-based internship (CBI) program ensures you’re equipped to hit the ground running.

“It’s nearly impossible to be ready to be a chiropractor right when you graduate if you don’t get your hands-on experience at great volume throughout your schooling,” says Dr. Kelsey Lloyd, a practitioner at Traditionally Healthy Chiropractic in Minneapolis and an NWHSU alumna.

What is the Community-Based Internship (CBI) Program?

Under the guidance of licensed doctors of chiropractic, students in the CBI program observe, assist and ultimately participate in the treatment of patients themselves. During your final year of chiropractic school, you’ll select a CBI clinic that aligns with your interests and goals. 

“A CBI clinic is a real, working environment,” explains Dr. Amanda Gebhardt-Fitzgerald, an NWHSU alumna who hosts interns at Natural Care Center of Woodbury. “Interns get to see real patients with real problems, and they are exposed to all the things that we business owners go through, from both a patient and administrative perspective. In my opinion, it’s hard to replicate that in a classroom environment.” 

NWHSU developed the first community-based internship program, and it remains the most extensive, with over 150 local clinics and about 250 preceptorships around the country.

Alyssa Ohman, a chiro student in trimester 10, chose a clinic that supported her goal of specializing in prenatal and pediatric chiropractic — Dr. Lloyd’s areas of expertise. “[Dr. Lloyd] not only helped me with adjustments and taking histories, but she helped me to see what kind of a provider I wanted to be,” Ohman shares. “She is so supportive of my journey and has become a forever mentor to me.”

How Doctors Become Mentors

As a student, Dr. Lloyd recalls her internship being “one of the most influential and essential experiences of school.” Six years ago, Dr. Lloyd chose to host her own CBI intern. “My supervisors while I was in grad school were the biggest part of my education,” she explains of her decision. “I saw the importance of being a good mentor to the interns because they aren’t just students, they are about to be our colleagues.”

Dr. Gebhardt-Fitzgerald says that her CBI experience as a student “significantly shaped who I am as a practitioner today. I not only saw what things I wanted to replicate in my practice life, but I also learned things that I maybe didn’t want to implement. Every experience is a learning experience.” As a CBI mentor Dr. Gebhard-Ftizgerald considers her interns as future colleagues. “You want them to be ethical, exceptional clinicians and to succeed,” she says. “Investing time and effort into making their CBI experience a great one will come back to the profession in such a positive way.”

How Interns Impact Clinics

When it comes to knowledge sharing, the CBI program is a two-way street. “Students are in the thick of learning and are often exposed to the newest and latest research, and they have such interesting questions because of that,” Dr. Gebhardt-Fitzgerald shares. “While I’m able to provide education with my years of experience, they often help expose me to things that are new. It’s a great exchange of information and knowledge!”

Dr. Lloyd has also found that interns bring fresh perspectives to her practice. “I learn a lot more from the students than I expected,” she says. “They are going through boards and in the process of studying and classes, so frequently they refresh my memory on things I once learned but don’t ever use on a daily basis.”

Patients benefit from the internship program, too, Dr. Lloyd adds, because “it creates a warmer environment with more people helping. The patients feel well cared for. I find myself educating the patients more because there’s active communication with the intern during the visits.”

Dr. Gebhardt-Fitzgerald says she has also seen interns’ positive impact on patients. “They love the students and become really invested in their success,” she shares. “Sometimes, for years after they leave, patients will ask for updates.”

Internship Results

Thanks to the CBI program, NWHSU students average more adjustments in trimesters 8 and 9 than other schools require during their entire clinical experience. Plus, 98% of our students finish their clinical requirements by the end of trimester 9.

If it weren’t for her internship, Ohman says that “graduation and the thought of ‘being on your own’ would be so much more daunting than it already is, and I wouldn’t have the confidence that I do now to treat patients.”

“The best part of the chiropractic profession is that the learning doesn’t end when you graduate,” Ohman adds. “You continue to learn with each patient, experience, seminar and continuing education class.

Discover more about community-based internships and the chiropractic school at NWHSU.