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Stories from preceptors in practice

With the vision of Dr. Ron Oberstein and under the leadership of Dr. Scott Donaldson, the preceptorship program at Life West has literally taken off like a rocket. This was a clear and obvious need that the president identified early in his tenure and is now growing every quarter. Over 70% of senior interns are now in the preceptor program. Validation of how powerful this experience is for setting our graduates up for success in practice is evidenced by the graduates and preceptor doctors, and how they perceive the experience.

The preceptorship program offers the senior student or a student who has earned a Doctor of Chiropractic degree but has not received a license yet with an opportunity to increase their clinical experience prior to entering into private practice. For their part, the Preceptor or host DC assists in the development of a new practitioner, who brings enthusiasm and a willingness to learn to the practice. This is a great opportunity for both the intern and the experienced chiropractor.

Dr. Sue and Cassie Stansberry

Dr. Marissa Sum was an enthusiastic early participant in the program. Her preceptor intern, Cassie Stansberry, was right up there in meeting her expectations – the intern was reliable, coachable and eager to learn and grow. “She had been taking seminars outside of school with other DCs on adjusting, patient exams and office procedures to compliment what she learned in the Health Center at Life West. Her dedication  prepared her for post graduate life – the real world! Her attention to detail and ability to predict what I needed before I even knew I needed it were valuable for the practice.” For Dr Sum, having the opportunity to coach her future peers while receiving the gift of expanding her team and adding to the work she could do in the office for her patients was all worth it. Would she have another preceptor intern from Life West? “Yes!”


Libby Jordan

From the student intern perspective, Libby Jordan’s preceptorship at Dr. Mindy Pelz’s office definitely improved her confidence in her transition from student to doctor. “It was strange to go from the student setting in the Life West Health Center at first, but Dr. Mindy and her team were absolutely incredible to work with. They made me feel comfortable, supported, and provided a warm learning environment. I went right from my preceptorship in the Bay Area to my job here at Strive Chiropractic in North Dakota quite literally the next day. My time at Dr. Pelz’s office made the quick transition into the doctor role smoother. I cannot recommend the preceptorship program enough!”



Whitney Marsh and Dr. Hoefer

Intern Whitney Marsh took a preceptorship with Dr. Elizabeth Hoefer at Well Connected Chiropractic. Though there are many amazing tools she now has in her pocket after working at Well Connected, the most notable is seeing the leadership and teamwork that goes into a high volume practice. “This is something that we spoiled interns at Life West do not get exposed to. Our files get pulled for us, our patients get checked in and their payment taken by Health Center staff. More than just the adjustment, the patient experience is the entire office’s ability to function… on time, I might add. During my time at Well Connected I was immersed in an office culture of five CAs and three massage therapists. Each and every member of the staff is bought in and motivated to make the patient experience, and the staff experience, smooth and effective.” The greatest value Whitney got from the experience was peace of mind. “At school we can get so wrapped up in the red tape and in the emotions that go into whether or not the adjustment “went.” Being able to step away from the Life West Health Center into real life scenarios gave me the peace of mind to say ‘I can do this, I’m prepared.’” Did the preceptor experience increase her competence and confidence as she looked to her career after graduation and licensure? “100% yes! In addition it was very demystifying. When I was at school I could only imagine what practice might look like. Sure there are days that I shadowed and got a taste but nothing like the day in and day out of a well functioning practice.”


George Tuihalangingie

George Tuihalangingie’s preceptor doctor was Dr. Robert Katona at Katona Chiropractic in Castro Valley, CA. Like Whitney, his highlight was seeing the whole process from receiving the patient to taking x-rays and exams and adjusting the patient. “I liked that it was really old-school because a lot of the offices I’ve been visiting are really new-school with the way they run their business and how they package a care plan for a patient. Dr. Katona took a very down to earth but professional approach to how he dealt with his patients. I really liked how he took his time with each patient and made sure their concerns were being met. Seeing it first hand made me see the big picture which increased my confidence in running my own clinic in the future.”


Dr. Jess Lips

Dr. Jess Lips at Ginkgo Chiropractic speaks highly of her preceptor intern, Kirsten Foullong. “Kirsten exceeded my expectations. She worked hard, got along well with the team, and was a very enjoyable person to be around with her warm, smiling energy. I appreciated explaining my adjustments and analysis to Kirsten and really enjoyed some of the teaching moments we had. Everyone at the clinic loved her energy and she was a great help.”




Learn more about how to participate in this program as a preceptor doctor at preceptor.lifewest.edu

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