Objective: The primary objective of this study was to describe the case mix experienced by chiropractic students during their clinical internship at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. Secondary objectives were to characterize teaching clinic patient populations, assess the similarity to previously published data for practicing chiropractors, and describe the treatment plans being recommended by interns.
Methods: A prospective, observational study was conducted using a convenience sample of 24 chiropractic interns. Data were collected by interns using a standardized form that was completed for each new patient and each new complaint examined during the 1-year internship. Standardized forms included data regarding patient demographics, complaint characteristics, and treatment recommendations.
Results: Data were included for 23 of 24 participating interns, who described 828 patients and a total of 948 unique complaint presentations. Overall, 60% of patients were female, 86% were 18 to 64 years old, and 23% were naive to chiropractic care. Of all presenting complaints, 93% were pain-based, 67% were chronic, 65% included spinal complaints, and 7% presented with red flags; individual interns' experiences were variable and are described. On average, treatment recommendations called for 9.4 visits and often included multimodal treatment approaches, most commonly soft-tissue therapies (91%), home-based active care (84%), and spine manipulation (70%).
Conclusions: The findings of this study suggest that patients presenting to CMCC teaching clinics are similar to those reported previously to attend private chiropractic clinics. While all participating interns encountered multiple complex clinical cases, very few had experience with pediatric populations. This study adds to the few that detail the characteristics of patients attending chiropractic teaching clinics; to our knowledge it is the first to describe average case loads of chiropractic interns.
Author keywords: Chiropractic, Education, Internships, Patients
Author affiliations: Private Practice (Canada / Alberta / Lethbridge); Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. Clinics (Canada / Ontario / Toronto); Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. Department of Pathology and Microbiology
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