Kristin: Doctor of Chiropractic, former cheerleader, GA Tech and Atlanta Hawks

kristen science cheerleader atlanta hawks

Why science?
Both of my parents are involved in science – my father is a chiropractor and my mother is a registered nurse (and is also going to school to become a chiropractor!). With both parents in healthcare, I have always been interested in anatomy and physiology.

You graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology and now you’re a month from receiving your Doctor of Chiropractic! Tell us about your favorite and/or most challenging courses you’ve taken.

Favorites – My senior clinic capstone courses, all of my radiology classes, my gross anatomy dissection labs, neurophysiology, visceral physiology (anything along the lines of learning about how the body functions)

My most challenging by far was Advanced Clinical Case Integration I. Our group and I were tasked to write five comprehensive reviews of literature in 6 weeks and prepare for a panel presentation where we were questioned by faculty. Our instructor runs the leading research journal in chiropractic – he held us to the highest standard of peer review. Even though the workload was immense, it was hands-down the most rewarding course I took in chiropractic school. That particular course piqued my interest in eventually conducting clinical research alongside my practice.

kristen atlanta hawks science cheerleaderWhat got you interested in becoming a chiropractor?

My father is the primary influence in my decision to become a chiropractor. I knew I wanted to be one since I was 4 years old! I grew up observing him in practice and witnessed tremendous improvement in his patients. Their quality of life significantly improved. His office was always a positive environment; it was evident that chiropractic never felt like work to him. They say that if you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

Tell us more about the role of a chiropractor.
I work with the nervous system of the body, which is made up of your brain, spinal cord, and all of your nerves. Your nervous system controls and coordinates ALL of your body’s functions. In between the bones of your spine, nerves come off of your spinal cord and travel to all parts of your body – your muscles, skin, organs, etc. If one of your spinal bones is misaligned, it can cause the wrong information to be sent from the brain to the body or from the body to the brain. It’s similar to when you have bad cell phone reception and can’t hear the person on the other line because of the interference. Chiropractors are trained to find where the spine is misaligned and causing the interference along those nerves. When a spinal correction is made it allows for proper communication to resume between the brain and the body.

When I go into practice, most of my workday will consist of checking and adjusting patients if need be. When a new patient comes in, I will take a thorough health history and conduct a neurostructural chiropractic exam including taking precision x-rays. I will inspect the films to check for any possible disease processes and to make specific measurements that allow me to calculate the exact angle of correction the patient needs. Each patient has his or her own unique Atlas Displacement measurements down to a single degree!

Best part of your work?
Seeing my own patients in our school’s clinics. It has been incredibly rewarding to witness my patients’ progress under care. One of my patients suffered from debilitating vertigo. He was unable to drive for long distances or exercise for long periods of time. After 1-2 months of neurostructural chiropractic care, his vertigo greatly improved. For the first time in a year he was able to play basketball with his friends. It is these improvements in quality of my patients’ lives that make me grateful to be pursuing this career.

What does it mean for you to be a chiropractor?
My ultimate goal in chiropractic is to raise public awareness about the importance of spinal care. Most of the public associates chiropractic as a way to eliminate back pain and increase joint motion. While most chiropractors are great at resolving those issues, I hope to change the general perception of chiropractic from pain management to active preventative care through being checked for neurostructural shift.

You cheered for GA Tech and the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks. Why did you try out to be a professional cheerleader?
I tried out to be a professional cheerleader because I wanted to continue my passion for dancing and performance after my collegiate dance career at Georgia Tech.

Which came first, your interest in science or cheerleading?
My love of dance definitely came first. I was 3 when I was enrolled in my first ballet class. There is nothing quite like the energy of dance!

Even though I knew I wanted to grow up to be a chiropractor since I was 4 (thanks, Dad!), my true interest in science started in high school with my biology courses. I loved studying cellular biology, genetics, and physiology.

How do the qualities that made you a great cheerleader make you a great chiropractor?
Discipline, passion, creativity, and being outgoing! Discipline has carried over from my cheerleading career into my science studies! It takes dedication and focus in order to succeed in both realms. Passion has been the driving force behind anything I pursue. My creativity comes in handy for dance, but really plays an integral role in my science career. It often takes out-of-the-box thinking to approach a patient’s presentation or solve a problem. My extraversion is a key component of my ability to connect and empathize with patients.

Best cheerleading experience?
Dancing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade with my collegiate dance team, Georgia Tech Goldrush. It was the biggest adrenaline rush to perform on live TV in front of millions! It had always been a dream of mine to dance in the Macy’s parade – I am so grateful that I was able to have that experience.

What’s one thing people might find especially surprising about you?
I love riding four-wheelers (ATVs), exploring in the woods, and watching sports any day of the week. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania – definitely came with the territory!

What are your plans for the future?
I will be starting practice this winter in the Atlanta area. My fiancé and I are getting married next fall! He will be joining me in practice when he graduates from Life University in 2016. We will eventually start a family of our own too! Lots of great plans ahead!

Why do you want to be a Science Cheerleader?
I want to be a positive role model and resource for girls who have an interest in STEM! I did not know many girls who also had a passion for science until I was in college (shoutout to my BFF Science Cheerleader, Wendy!). I hope to inspire others at a much younger age!

  • Lisa R.

    Sorry to be negative, but the whole concept of chiropractic is incompatible with principles of science. This is Science Cheerleaders, not Pseudoscience Cheerleaders! Please don’t promote something that misleads the public at best and hurts unsuspecting patients at worst.