From Stage to SCU
Former dancer finds passion in chiropractic studies at SCU
Dance is a beautiful form of expression, athleticism, and creativity, but it can be extremely hard on the body. Just ask Pamela Sommer, a chiropractic student at the Southern California University Health Sciences (SCU). She spent more than six years as a professional dancer in New York City before setting her sights on chiropractic school.
“As a dancer, the show must go on, and being injured was not an option. Chiropractic care helped me to stay strong and prevent injuries. When something did arise I was able to bounce back much quicker due to my chiropractic treatments.” she says.
Sommer was fortunate to have exposure to Chiropractic care from a very young age. Her mother is a chiropractor in New Jersey and has treated her for as long as she can remember. “My mom taught me the importance of preventative care by creating balance in the body on a biochemical, social and emotional level.” Whether it in be dance, personal relationships or lifestyle choices, Pamela realized that “Everything came back to chiropractic and that chiropractic isn’t just a way to treat injuries, but a way of life.”
While living in New York, she worked in a multidisciplinary wellness center as a way to offset bills while continuing her dancing career. She helped to manage the practices of chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, nutritionists, and MDs. “I absolutely loved the team model and environment there. It was my first exposure to integrative care in that way and it was during that period, I knew it was time to be on the other end of the desk.” This led her to leave her friends and family on the east coast to set sights on a new life in sunny California to attend SCU and become a Chiropractor.
She began her studies at SCU in 2015 and has become a top student in the program, which she attributes to her upbringing.
“Dance taught me discipline and gave me a great understanding of the body,” she says. “My training provided me with the basis for how to look at movement as a kinetic chain and how brilliantly resilient the body is.”
This was a good starting point for her studies at SCU, which has included classes in anatomy, physiology, chiropractic techniques, and the diagnosis and treatment of health and diseases.
“You get what you put into your studies and SCU offers a ton of opportunities to explore your individual interests within the field,” says Sommer. “That means asking questions, going to after-hours tutoring, club meetings, and campus events. The more you are involved, the richer the experience.”
The philosophy seems to be working. Sommer has taken on several leadership roles on campus, most notably her position as President of the SCU Yoga Club. “Yoga has always been another passion of mine. It is a practice that helps to keep you grounded, moving, and clear-headed, especially in times of stress.” Sommer says she first started practicing Yoga as a way to escape the chaos of New York City and found many parallels between her yoga practice and her two other passions of chiropractic and dance. “There was a need for yoga on campus and a few other students and I made it happen with the support of SCU’s administration.” Through Sommer’s efforts, with the help of fellow students, SCU now offers 6 yoga classes per week for free to the campus community. It was important that the classes offer a space for students and staff alike from all disciplines to connect through yoga and de-stress from the demands of the respective programs.
Sommer started her clinical clerkships this spring and says she felt more than ready to provide care for her patients. “Between my experiences working and living in New York for 6 years, and all of the incredible knowledge I gained at SCU and outside seminars, I felt ready and confident when entering the clinic. While there is always more to learn and room to grow, I was 100% sure I made the right decision to become a Chiropractor. At the end of the day it’s about helping others, and if I can somehow contribute to my patients living happy, fulfilled lives, I have done my job.”
Sommer will graduate in Spring 2018 and hopes to work collaboratively with other healthcare professionals to provide integrated, patient-centered care that helps people live more balanced lives.