Sharon Ufberg, DC shares her journey transitioning from a traditional medical practice to an Integrative practice.
by Sharon Ufberg, DC
As a chiropractor, being part of an integrative practice makes perfect sense. A holistic approach to patient care has always been embraced by chiropractic philosophy, manifested by utilizing the patient’s own inherent resources of mind, body and spirit to heal.
Somewhere in the evolution of the chiropractic profession’s process of seeking acceptance in the western medical community, many chiropractors opted to emphasize the highly successful results of the treatment of neuromusculoskeletal disorders. The profession became the destination of choice for neck and back pain sufferers. Long before clinical trials or evidence-based research results were published, chiropractic manipulation was a winner for correcting biomechanical or structure dysfunction. Promoting the additional benefit to overall wellness was left to the more fundamentalist fringe of the profession.
Thus, I began my career 25 years ago treating primarily neck, back and joint conditions, using hands-on spinal manipulation combined with soft tissue mobilization, physiotherapy modalities and exercise instruction. Making recommendations of nutritional and lifestyle modifications and promoting mental and physical health was the holistic element that many chiropractors, including myself, threw into the mix in discussions with patients about their health care.
In my practice patients often reported their response to treatment, and often sited positive improvements that went beyond the immediate area of concern. Every chiropractor has stories of patients who seek chiropractic care for a structural malady and then notice that other troublesome symptoms disappear. Patient’s headaches were gone or their asthma symptoms were dramatically reduced.
It was clear that their chiropractic care was a positive addition to the standard medical treatment they were receiving for those other conditions.
Fast forward twenty years and thousands of patients later – I now knew that chiropractic care improved my patients’ optimal level of well being and quality of life. In my private practice I invited other healthcare providers across a range of specialties; acupuncturists, massage therapists and medical doctors to work within my facility. A collaborative healthcare environment made sense to me as a best practice for patient care.
Moving across the country provided me with the unique opportunity to re-imagine myself within the healing community. Initially, I shared office space with two homeopaths and began to schedule patients for longer sessions. I listened more and talked less. I used only my hands-on manipulation techniques.
When offered an opportunity to be the chiropractor at an alternative wellness center, I jumped at the chance. This place was a loosely connected set of body workers, energy healers and yoga instructors, an acupuncturist and myself. As the most medically-oriented and senior person in the group, I was often called upon to triage a client to the appropriate healthcare provider.
After a valuable year of working with patients and continuing to broaden and expand my perspective of healing and wellness, I took a position as the chiropractor for the Center for Health and Healing, the integrative facility of Beth Israel Medical Center. This career move transformed my status as the most conventional provider to the most alternative practitioner, in one subway ride across town to my new office.