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Why all students should shadow a DC

Never say no to a student who wants to shadow a DC. You'll be helping a student learn more about the chiropractic field, and guide them on their path. As I am writing this, I have a little kink in my neck. The cause? A student adjusted me the other day.

I always have some students or interns—or both—hanging around the clinic. I never say no to a student who wants to shadow or intern with me. Does it help my practice? No, it’s more of a distraction than a help, as even unpaid interns end up causing more work than they save. One summer intern took down our internet access for a day. So if I am busy with practice, speaking, podcasting and coaching, why do I have students around?

Two reasons: First, I was blessed with amazing mentors who helped me come along; I had an amazing externship with a DC who continues to be a mentor. I had great shadowing experiences and great professors in school. I had so many who helped me along the way, I feel it’s my duty and pleasure to give back.

In fact, my externship doctor, James Santiago, DC, not only gave me an externship but when I started my practice right out of school, I had no idea what I was doing. I literally called James almost every day with a practice question. And despite having a booming practice—he might have 10 people waiting—he always took the time to answer my calls.

Even after a few years in practice, I continued to be blessed with amazing mentors who have allowed me to get where I am today. It is my duty to help young students the same way. I truly enjoy helping young people grow (and hopefully watch them succeed).

Second, it’s important for students to see several practices before going to school, and when they are in school as well. One summer intern at my urging spent three days a week at our clinic and two days a week at another. He would have been happy to be at my clinic full time, but I really wanted him to see another practice.

Just because you decided to be a chiropractor, there are still many choices regarding how to practice and the type of work you will do. I have a close friend who is an NFL chiropractor. While that sounds glamorous, and he does have a super bowl ring, it’s a lot of work. Long, long days for little pay, weekends spent traveling with the team and being away from family, and meetings on Saturday night before games going till midnight.

Although I always liked sports and thought about sports chiropractic, once I saw the amount of work needed for a small reward, I decided to pass. Our summer intern worked in our busy, multiple DC, multiple PT, acupuncture, MD nutrition clinic three days a week, and the other two days a week with a traditional solo DC with one or two assistants.

Maybe you enjoy the low-stress small practice, maybe you like working with specialists. Neither type of practice is better; you really have to see what fits you best.

So, shadow as much as possible whenever you’re on break, have a day off, any time you have available. If you come to New Jersey, come see me! Even if you have a favorite family chiropractor, go see several docs. See different practice types: integrated, sports, functional medicine, rehab, nutrition, regenerative medicine—the possibilities are endless. There are more types of practice now and more ways you can deliver care.

The student who made my neck a little sore was checking out different states and different practice types; now that is smart!

Most DCs will welcome you and allow you to visit their practices; many interns contact me through my website or Facebook groups. Now go shadow and see what the wide world of chiropractic is all about.


James R. Fedich, DC, is a practicing chiropractor in Northwest New Jersey. He is also the published author of Secrets of a Million Dollar Practice and host of a top-rated podcast, Path to Success with Dr J. He can be contacted at, or through

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