How NWHSU Alum Arlen Lieberman Built a Lifelong Chiropractic Career
Arlen J. Lieberman, D.C., founder and director of Advanced Medical of Twin Cities, owns and operates a multi-disciplinary clinic that sees around 200 patient visits per week.
But he didn’t build a successful chiropractic career overnight. Dr. Lieberman opened his private practice directly after graduation in 1981 using the insights, experience and support he got from his clinical internships at Northwestern Health Sciences University.
The power of clinical internships
When Dr. Lieberman started as a student at Northwestern Health Sciences University—then the Northwestern College of Chiropractic—in the late 1970s, there was no clinical internship program. Luckily, before he graduated, the school began placing interns with local doctors to shadow them and learn the ins and outs of clinical practice.
“My class was one of the first classes that started doing internships,” Lieberman recalls. “Before graduation, I went to lots of clinics and shadowed lots of doctors, watched their techniques and their emotional tone levels. I noticed that most of the doctors who were excited to go to work and treat patients were the doctors who had started their own practices.”
Inspired by the energetic doctors working on their own, Dr. Lieberman opened his own practice after graduation.
From student to doctor
“When we started, we didn’t have money, but we had dreams,” Lieberman says.
Once he found the perfect space for his practice, he hired a man to put up a sign. When the contractor finished his work and started to get in his truck, he fell—and became Dr. Lieberman’s first patient.
“Things just grew from there,” Lieberman says.
Early on in his chiropractic career, Dr. Lieberman noticed that when he referred patients out to a medical doctor, only around 50 percent came back to his practice for treatment. In 1998, he hired a medical doctor to work in his practice, becoming one of the first chiropractic clinics in the state to offer integrative care with a physical therapist or medical doctor on site.
“Our doctor voluntarily limits his prescribing of medications to mostly just antibiotics,” Lieberman says. “We’ve also got a massage therapist, two functional medicine practitioners, and a chiropractor, my daughter, who does acupuncture.”
Welcoming students into Advanced Medical of Twin Cities
Soon after opening his clinic, Dr. Lieberman applied with NWHSU to make his new clinic an off-site internship location for chiropractic students.
“Initially, when you first get out into practice, you can’t take interns, but I set it up so that they could shadow me,” Dr. Lieberman says. “And I took an interest in helping mentor them to start their own practice.”
Thanks to Dr. Lieberman and others like him, today, the Clinical Based Internship program in NWHSU’s College of Chiropractic now has more than 150 off-site internship locations that give our chiropractic students a wide variety of professional experiences—all before graduation.
“Because I’ve been a mentor since after graduation, we’ve had over 100 interns in our clinic,” Dr. Lieberman says.
For students just entering the internship phase of their education, Dr. Lieberman offers this advice: “Identify what you don’t know first. If you don’t know a technique you want to use, go and learn it. I learn something new almost every day in practice. Keep asking questions until you find the road that fits you.”
Making a family practice work
When his daughter, Krystle E. Lieberman Wall, D.C., R.D., L.D., first told him that she wanted to attend North Dakota State University and study Dietetics, Dr. Lieberman was a little disappointed because he had always imagined her pursuing a chiropractic career and joining the family practice, but he didn’t say anything and supported her choice. About a year into NDSU, she decided to earn her Doctor of Chiropractic degree at Northwestern Health Sciences University; and in 2009, he welcomed her into his practice.
“She was excited to join me here, and that was a motivating force for me,” Dr. Lieberman says. “After she graduated, she had to make a choice, and she wanted to practice with Dad. That made me very happy.”
Working in a family business can be challenging, but for Dr. Lieberman, the rewards far outweigh the challenges.
“You have to respect what your family member wants, and respect their decisions,” Dr. Lieberman says. “Krystle wanted to focus on women and pediatrics, and I’m a chiropractic orthopedist who focuses on sports and injury care. You’ve got to find out what inspires them and support them in any way possible. It’s all for the good of mankind!”