Every year, before starting their careers, many of New York Chiropractic College’s Doctor of Chiropractic students take advantage of the opportunity to pursue their final clinical practice hours within a Veterans Administration setting. NYCC has relationships at four VA hospitals in the state of New York: Canandaigua, Rochester, Bath, and Buffalo.
Below, Dr. Matthew Coté, Senior Clinician at the Depew Health Center, answers a few frequently asked questions about the experience.
What does a typical day look like for a chiropractic student at the VA?
Dr. Coté: The VA system is regimented. The student and doctor work together to review files, treat patients, and then complete the case records. At the Buffalo VA hospital, patients are assigned to half-hour slots. This gives the doctor and student time to review files and complete case notes. There are assigned times and days for new-patient exams and consultations. Other times and days are designated for follow-up visits. The VA strives for quality patient care and creates systems for that purpose.
How do students benefit from these relationships?
Dr. Coté: Students are in an integrated healthcare environment. They see a patient and have the entire health history in front of them. They are able to access all the patient’s test results and treatment history. As one of the participating students put it: “There are no surprises. All of the information is at your fingertips.” There is no competition between providers. Resources are available and are used for the benefit of the patient’s well-being.
What types of work have students done as a result of this relationships?
Dr. Coté: Students who have worked at the VA have an insight into a multidisciplinary, integrated environment. The student comes away with good communication and management skills. This gives the student the ability to seek out a variety of practice types to work in after graduation. The new graduate will have no problem communicating with other healthcare professionals in the field. Many of these students have gone on to work in multidisciplinary offices.
Do students who have rotated through the VA have any advice or insight about it for prospective students?
Dr. Coté: When I ask students who have completed their rotation at one of the multiple VAs with which NYCC has established a relationship, the common answer is that it builds confidence in their clinical skills. The skills that they refer to are “soft skills.” A student should expect to improve his or her ability to communicate with a variety of patient types as well as the doctors in the VA system. The students can expect to be exposed to patients with PTSD, head trauma, addiction, etc. A student can expect to see how chiropractic fits into the VA healthcare system. The staff of the VA system exist for the benefit of those who have served our country – our veterans!