Empowering Women Chiropractic – What I Learned Studying for Part 4 Boards

I’m Dr. Julie McLaughlin and I have 30 plus years in practice. I know what you’re thinking. That I must be crazy to be doing that, right? And so I have to tell you, I really did learn a lot. But first, let’s show a little love to ChiroSecure. Because they have made all of this possible, and they are so good at supporting our profession and supporting us and empowering women. And we wouldn’t be here without them. So let’s just give them a little love today, too.

So you know, when I graduated 30 plus years ago, which I hate to admit it’s been that long, there were only three boards. There was part one, part two, part three. And then it wasn’t until 10 years after I graduated that part four came along. And I practice in Illinois, and I was grandfathered in, I didn’t need to take part four, since I’d already had a current license. But you know, the world has changed in 30 plus years. And I had been practicing full time this whole time.

So I started to think, you know, my patients were getting older. And they started to move south. And from the area that my practice is, a lot of them are moving to Florida, and specifically to Naples. And, you know that I practice traditional chiropractic but I also practice functional medicine. So they were asking me more and more to do, you know, telemedicine and, “Could you still do my labs, and could we still talk on Zoom?” And things like that. And I was like, “Oh, sure.” But I was like, “Gee, I don’t have a license anywhere else. So I think I better get a license in a few other states.” And the more I thought about it, like, what if the laws ever changed? Or what if, for whatever reason, I wanted to do something different? Or what if I wasn’t up with the current things that they’re teaching the students in school? And you know, as all these what-ifs were coming to my mind, I thought, “Well, the only way to find out is by go and take this board, and then I’ll know.”

And one of our family friends also asked me to be a medical surrogate, power of attorney. And then I’m the surrogate for my father, and power of attorney for him for medical. And I thought, “Well gee, I should have a license in the states that these people are in.” So I’m like, what the heck, I think I’ll sign up. Because really the rules have changed. And I don’t know all the rules for this in every state, but I found out there’s not very many states that have reciprocity if you have a license. There’s some states that allow you to take the spec exam if you’re already a current practicing doc, but not every state.

And then some states, they changed it. You’re required to have a BS degree from a four year school in addition to your chiropractic. Which, thank god I have that. I actually have two BS degrees. But when you think about it, you know, I could have been stuck having to go back and take that, too. So I was like, thankful that I had that. And then some states are actually requiring you take part four. And some states were actually requiring more than the minimum grade on the part four.

So I thought, “Well, gee, if these are the rules now, what is it going to be like 10 years from now if these requirements changed and I really had to take them?” So, and you know what? I wanted to preserve my license. It’s the most important thing to me. Because as a chiropractor, it’s who I am. I’ve been doing it for so long, it’s part of me. And I kind of really, once I started looking at it, got a little nervous like, “What if I couldn’t have my license for some reason because of all these testing?” So I thought, “I better go ahead and do it.”

So I signed up. I was 98% sure, but there was this 2% of me like, “What? Are you nuts?” Like, “Why are you doing this.” And I thought, “Oh, it couldn’t be that hard.” And so I had three options. I could just go and take it on my own, and then I could study and do the NBCE online course, and I could do the Irene Gold course. So, I asked those who’ve done it before. So we have all these amazing social media group. We have women’s groups, we have chiropractic groups, we have all these groups. And so I put a little post, I’m like, “Hey, who’s taken part four? Is anybody going to be taking part four? Has anybody been practicing for a while that’s going to be taking part four?” And I asked for help.

And the really cool thing is, I met some awesome ladies. And Carmen, she’s been practicing almost as long as me, and she was doing the same thing. And she’s out in Delaware, so we talked online and we became study buddies. And then she talked to some of the other docs in the group, she talked to a doc named Sarah, and she’s like, “I’ll tell you what,” she goes, “You need to do all of the review courses.” So we signed up for both NBCE and we signed up for Irene Gold. And then we also became study buddies. So we would go through the modules in the courses, and then we would do Zoom calls with each other and we’d quiz each other and we would get new ideas and say, “Well, I saw this and I saw that,” and it was so, so helpful.

And so what I found out is that I knew more than I gave myself credit for. Because I didn’t know, like, what they’re teaching 30 years later isn’t the same things that I learned and that I practice. So experience definitely helped me with this test. Experience seeing patients day to day, knowing that kind of routine. I got to tell you, some things still don’t apply. They asked us things that I haven’t seen in 30 years in practice full time. So you got to know that they’re going to ask you things that really don’t apply to anything, and you just have to know it anyway.

But the other thing I realized is, I didn’t lose my study skills. I was able to keep up and know what I needed to do and how I needed to study. So I was like, “Okay, I got that down.” But really when I got into the test itself, I was really nervous. But it was like riding a bike. And the thing I can tell you for sure, patients are patients, and actors who are patients make it way easier. Because we all get our Aunt Marge patients that go, “Eh, eh, eh,” on and on and on. You can’t get a word in edgewise. But these actors made it really, really easy, and so all that nervousness that I had before I walked into the room with them, it all went away as soon I asked them “Oh, what’s going on with you today? How can I help you today? What brings you in?” And I went back into my doctor mode, and the test didn’t exist anymore. So that experience helped me. And I know with the students coming out, they had a little bit harder time with that kind of interaction. And you know, we had five minutes in the room with each patient, each actor patient, but it seemed like I must have had 25 minutes because the actors were so good, and you just whipped right through it.

So but the thing that I thought was the hardest was the logistics and the timing was the nerveracking part. Like on the x-rays, when they give you one x-ray and you’re timed and you can’t go back and look at it and you can’t ask any questions like in real life. So that part was a little tricky, on trying to be able to make clinical decisions when you know in real life you would have a lot more information.

So but, digital x-rays are way easier to read. I had talked to a lot of docs who took it and they said the x-rays were poor quality and they were tough to read. But this time, when I took the boards, they had digital x-rays so they were really good quality, which made it so much better. And it’s just better now in practice that we all have these digital x-rays to read. So that was a good part of it.

So knowing what to study really, really helped me. So those review courses really, really helped. And actually talking to the students who are still in school or just graduating, it really, really helped. Because I saw that their schooling is being geared to what they need to know on these boards. And I thought, “Boy, I’m going to be behind,” because so many things have changed in all this time. But the other thing I realized, we didn’t have computers when I was in school, and you can look things up on the computer. You can look up x-rays and see examples, you can quiz yourself on Quizlet.

The thing that I learned the most is that you can do anything, anything in the world that you want to do, if you put your mind to it. So my license is one of the things that I value absolutely the most. So it took six weeks for me to get the results, and I was just so nervous about getting them. But I passed! I passed. And I have to tell you, I got the best score on part four than I did on all my other parts that I took right when I graduated school. So that, I was pretty amazed at.

So the experience did help. And, with all the continuing education that we’re required to do, I’ve been able to keep up and stay right on track in practice with what’s in line with what’s being taught in the schools right now. And what’s being done in real life practice. So I want you to take this away. You can do anything if you want it bad enough. If I could take the part four boards 30 plus years after practice and pass them, I know that you can do anything that you’re thinking about right now.

So I want to thank ChiroSecure again for having me today, and I want you to join us in two weeks with Dr. Nicole Lindsey, we’ll be here with Empowering Women. So thank you, ChiroSecure, and thank you all for watching, and I will be talking to you soon. Bye-bye.

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