Why Dr. Johnson went back to Physical Therapy School

Posted On: October 28, 2011

I have been asked by a lot of people why I went back to physical therapy school when I was 42 after practicing successfully as a chiropractic physician running a multidisciplinary practice for years. My practice, North Shore Spinal & Sports Rehabilitation, was thriving when I made the choice to go back to school to get my doctor of physical therapy degree. As the director of two clinics on the north shore of Chicago (one in Lake Bluff and the other in Highland Park) I already had physical therapists on staff, so why did I choose to go back to school?

The answer is that I felt it was necessary to ensure that we always had a physical therapist on staff to help our patients get better benefits from their health insurance and from Medicare.

It is an unfortunate reality that chiropractic physicians, though they have a lot to offer, get terribly discriminated against by the health insurance industry and Medicare. It is really sad that when good literature gets published by chiropractors as to their effectiveness, the insurance industry and Medicare still severely limit the services that the chiropractor can perform.

Because of this I decided to go back and get a second clinical degree. I am now one of the only people in the country to hold both a doctor of chiropractic degree and a doctor of physical therapy degree.

It was a long arduous process to get the second degree. I had to go back and repeat a number of classes including those in biology and chemistry. I actually enjoyed taking biochemistry, the biology of aging, molecular cell biology and anthropology at Northwestern. I also had to take the GRE, which required I relearn my algebra and trigonometry.

When I got into the doctor of physical therapy program at Rosalind Franklin University, I was excited and nervous. My school photo ID looked like a deer in the headlights. The good news was that the first semester was dominated by anatomy and dissecting in the anatomy lab. I love anatomy and being back in the anatomy lab after twenty years of practice was a dream come true.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the politics of the physical therapy profession. There actually was a dean at Rosalind Franklin University that swore to one of her colleagues that she had three years to make me into a physical therapist instead of a chiropractor. I am sure I gave that dean a few grey hairs when I refused to renounce my other profession. The reality is that the two professions are not mutually exclusive but rather compliment one another quite well. At chiropractic school (the Logan College of Chiropractic) I learned how to be a good physician and at physical therapy school I learned how to be a good physical therapist.

The good news for my patients is that I am both and now they will always have access to both.

To schedule an appointment, please call our Lake Forest, Lake Bluff office at 847.295.0920, or our Highland Park office at 847.432.4077. You may also use our online Request an Appointment form.

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