NWHSU Students Shape Integrative Care for Athletes in the Human Performance Center

Dr. Timothy Stark treating an athlete in the HPC.

When Elizabeth R. Moos became the first fellow in Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Human Performance Center in 2014, she had the opportunity to design her own curriculum while treating high performance athletes in an integrated care setting.

“She really helped out blazing the trail,” says Tim Stark, Director of the Human Performance Center. “It was tough, because there was no trail for her. The fellowship was a brand new concept for our university.”

Moos is now a leader in the field of Chiropractic Sports Medicine: she sits on the board for the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Sports Council; and serves as a faculty member at Palmer College of Chiropractic on the West Coast.

“The Human Performance Center is an integrative clinic, and that dramatically changed the way that I practice,” says Moos. “Now I’m the chiropractor working at HP Health Center through Crossover Health, and I work on a team with a physical therapist, two MDs, a behavioral health practitioner and a nutritionist. It’s great knowing how to function as a member of a care team, when I can help and when I should take a step back and let other team members shine. This was a skill that I gained at the Human Performance Center.”

Today, just five years later, the NWHSU’s Human Performance Center has 4 fellows and 30 interns from NWHSU’s Chiropractic, Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Massage Therapy programs working in clinics both on and off campus, including satellite clinics set up to serve the athletic departments of certain local schools.

Standout clinical experiences that prepare graduates for success

human performance center athletes

Student fellows examine an athlete in the Human Performance Center.

The Human Performance Center is just one of 140 internal and external clinical experiences for NWHSU students that complement their classroom studies. From community support at Salvation Army Harbor Light to workplace wellness offering WorkSiteRight to our Biomechanics Lab, NWHSU students get real-world experience with patient populations that allow them to specialize in growing areas of integrative care.

Founded in 2014, the Center now provides integrative, cross-disciplinary treatment for 12 high-performance athletic teams. Under Stark’s guidance, both current students and recent graduates work together on care teams to provide comprehensive, integrated care for the whole athlete.

“The opportunity for students to treat high-performance athletes is high here at Northwestern Health Sciences University,” says Stark. “People choose our school because they’re able to work in an integrative sports care environment. The Human Performance Center coordinates the Sports Emphasis for our Chiropractic program, and we’re one of very few schools in the U.S. that has this kind of sports emphasis.”

In the Center, care teams comprised of students from every area of study—Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, Sports Nutrition, Mental Performance, and Rehabilitation—come together to treat high-performance athletes in a collaborative clinical setting.

“Our services here are like NASCAR,” says Stark. “You’ve got this racecar that needs to go 190 miles an hour around a circle for 400 miles without breaking down. There’s a crew chief that manages the entire crew, and then you’ve got your tire specialist, your windshield specialist, your fuel specialist. We’ve got a lot of awesome, brilliant people doing what they do really well to manage the athlete’s performance together.”

Growing as a doctor and a leader

For Moos, the benefits of her fellowship at the Human Performance Center go far beyond a unique listing on a diploma. With the help of center director Dr. Timothy W. Stark, Moos was able to not only access unparalleled opportunities to practice integrative clinical care, but also stretch into professional leadership roles that propelled her into career success.

“Dr. Stark really helped me create a curriculum where I could grow into areas I wanted to grow in,” says Moos. “I really wanted to take on leadership roles, so I joined the Sports Council at NWHSU, which led to roles at the Student American Chiropractic Association and that American Chiropractic Association (ACA) Sports Council.”

Still involved in both leadership roles with the ACA, and has since joined the Next Gen ACA committee, a group dedicated to building a community of doctors in the first five years of practice. She also had the opportunity to participate in the ACA’s Board of Governor’s meeting.

“In these leadership roles, the biggest thing that I learned is that if you are willing to get involved and have a good work ethic, you will always have more opportunities,” Moos says.

Creating exceptional opportunities to practice integrative care

These leadership opportunities added value to the standout clinical training that Moos experienced during her fellowship.

While at the Human Performance Center, she treated patients both on campus and in satellite clinics dedicated to student athletes at Concordia Academy and Saint Agnes School in Saint Paul. She also attended grand rounds at Tria Orthopedic Urgent Care in Bloomington.

From the beginning, Stark was passionate about creating these unique clinical experiences for students and new graduates at Northwestern Health Sciences University.

“I was a resident back when I graduated from chiropractic school in 1996,” says Stark. “I was the first American Chiropractor to do a sports injuries and rehabilitation residency, and that opened up a lot of doors for me. I got to go to multiple Olympics and international games. I think it really jumped me forward 10 years in my career.”

For Moos, her time at the Human Performance Center was pivotal in shaping her practice.

“When I first graduated, it felt like I still had a lot to learn, so it was great to be able to spend those two years honing what I learned at Northwestern Health Sciences University and putting a sports spin on it,” says Moos. “As an HPC fellow, I really solidified my knowledge of movement. I’m a much better doctor because I did that residence.”