NWHSU Alum Lesley Scibora Educates Undergraduates from an Integrative Perspective
NWHSU alum Lesley Scibora, D.C., Ph.D., knows a thing or two about bones. Dr. Scibora earned her doctor of chiropractic degree in 1998; and then went on to earn a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from the University of Minnesota in 2011. Now she teaches classes such as Human Anatomy to undergraduate students at the University of Saint Thomas as an associate professor in the Health and Exercise Science department.
“As a faculty member, I have an opportunity to introduce chiropractic to undergraduate students who have some of the same interests that I did,” says Dr. Scibora. “Chiropractors not only think about our patient’s neuromusculoskeletal health, but their stress levels, their nutrition, their sleep, their emotional, their mental wellbeing. We provide the type of healthcare approach that students are interested in, and that their future patients will be interested in as well.”
Dr. Scibora specializes in musculoskeletal health: her research examines the interrelationships between physical activity, body composition, and bone health. She is an active member of the American College of Sports Medicine, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research, The Obesity Society, and the Minnesota Chiropractic Association.
Early Roots in Chiropractic
From an early age, Dr. Scibora liked math and science.
“I grew up in a family of teachers, which I swore I would never become,” says Dr. Scibora with a smile. “In my first year of my undergraduate education, I started working part time to make some extra money in a chiropractic office in my small town of Wahpeton, North Dakota, for two chiropractors that were well-regarded members of the healthcare community in my small town.”
As she learned about chiropractic by working in the office, she became more curious about a career in health care, she says.
“The more time that I spent with them and with the patients, the more I learned about what it meant to be a chiropractor,” says Dr. Scibora. “I really grew to love it, and thought, ‘how I could be a part of that healing profession?’ I remember my very first hands on lab, palpating the cervical spine and thinking, ‘What in the world? This is wild, this is incredible.’”
During her second year of undergraduate studies, Dr. Scibora applied to the chiropractic program at NWHSU, and started the Doctor of Chiropractic program in January 1995. After graduation, she worked with a chiropractor in Edina for a number of years. She learned how to work with patients presenting with many different conditions—both supporting their health and maintaining a professional connection with them.
“I think that really helped me to hone my chiropractic skills even beyond my internships in school,” says Dr. Scibora. “I also started to learn how much I enjoyed educating patients, and what an important connection I can have with them.”
From Patient Care to Education
Dr. Scibora’s curiosity for education and research inspired her to go back to school to learn more about the scientific underpinnings of the chiropractic practices. She earned her Ph.D. in Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota in 2011, and has been teaching in an academic setting ever since.
“Now I have the opportunity, which I consider a great honor to be a representative of the chiropractic community and of the chiropractic physicians, but in a different capacity,” says Dr. Scibora “I have an opportunity to introduce chiropractic to undergraduate students who have some of the same interests that I did. They want to be part of the healing profession, and they’re starting to look more holistically at wellbeing. They’re searching for something that is fulfilling to them.”
According to Dr. Scibora, the number of students asking about chiropractic has steadily increased over the years, and when they do, she typically refers them to NWHSU.
“There are a lot of reasons why I would suggest to my students or students that I come in contact with to explore Northwestern Health Sciences University,” says Dr. Scibora. “First and foremost, I had a great experience at Northwestern. But number two, I think especially since Northwestern has become a health sciences university, the opportunities that students have to learn alongside students that are interested in massage therapy, or Chinese medicine, or acupuncture, or nutrition all is beneficial to their education. Not only do they see different perspectives and approaches, but they have an opportunity to interact with those students and faculty as well.”
NWHSU makes it possible for students to not only learn about chiropractic, but other professions, to engage in research, to engage in many, many hands-on opportunities. This integrative healthcare perspective is critically important to their education, according to Dr. Scibora.
“Healthcare has evolved a lot in the time that I graduated,” says Dr. Scibora. “It is evolving in a way that really not only should chiropractors be more integrated amongst other healing professions, but also with more general and specialty practitioners, including medicine, physical therapy, nutrition, and nursing. Not only do I think should we want to be more integrated, but I think we need to be. Patients have complex conditions. They need more than just one type of care for some of the challenges that they face, and each one of us plays a role.”