spinal column

Grateful to be a student at Palmer College

Joe O’Tool is a sixth trimester student on Palmer’s Davenport Campus and is excited about entering clinic in a few short months. As he approaches his last year at Palmer, Joe reflects on his time here and why he was led to the profession in the first place.
Joe O

For my career, I was originally planning to teach special education and coach football … then I had a simple conversation with my mother. After talking with her, I realized that I wanted to do something different with my life. I had always been interested in the human body and its wonderful design. However, I never really wanted to be a chiropractor because I come from a family with nine children, and I knew all of my siblings would want free care! After getting over that obstacle— and learning more about what chiropractic truly is by starting school here—I have been blown away with the wonders that this life holds. Every day I am grateful that I am able to “live the dream.”

I first chose Palmer because I was intrigued by the rugby program. After playing and coaching football, I didn’t want to let that dream die—until I got married and learned to think more from the standpoint of my wife. After deciding not to play rugby, I started to take my choice of schools more seriously. I looked at several other schools, talked with many doctors and realized that Palmer would help me to be the best Doctor of Chiropractic that I could be.

I’m pretty involved on campus. I am president of Campus Guides, president of Palmer Student Alumni Foundation (PSAF), vice-president of the Iowa Club, and a manager in the gym, among other things. The benefits of being so involved are many, and I am grateful to be able to serve in the ways that I do. Through these different organizations, I have learned how to be a leader and take a stand for what is right, the necessity of being organized, and the incredible amount of work it takes to provide the best education for Palmer students. I believe that the more involved I become, the better my experience at Palmer will be. As in any part of life, the more you give, the more you receive.

The biggest “wow” moment for me at Palmer was in first trimester embryology and is still with me to this day. I remember watching a video in class about embryological development, right after learning about all of the congenital defects and “bad” things that may happen to a fetus, and being hit with a sense of awe. With all of the odds against it, how does a human develop from what it starts as to a fully functioning individual full of life? The odds are stacked against each one of us, and yet we are all able to express life in a unique and wonderful manner. Since that moment, I have found myself fascinated with the innate in us all. I can say that I now understand a little better the saying “we are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

I have always been a big dreamer and, until this last Homecoming, I had a lot of stuff that I wanted to do, but I thought that I would never be able to pursue some of my dreams. However, after talking with an alumnus, I began to understand that my dreams aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. My wife, Angie (who works in Admissions as the campus visit coordinator), and I plan to move to Des Moines and open a practice there. Along with that, we love Palmer and look forward to staying connected and giving back to the school in any way possible. We would also love to have an impact on the future of chiropractic by someday getting involved in politics. As I said, we have many dreams and we are not sure if they will all be fulfilled, but what fun is life without having dreams?

I wake up every morning grateful that I am a student at Palmer. This is not only The Fountainhead of chiropractic, it is also the pioneer of chiropractic. Whenever I give tours to alumni, I am always told, “I wish I would have had all of this when I was a student.” Not only is Palmer a pioneer in the area of chiropractic research, it is also a pioneer in chiropractic education. Beyond all of the changes in the curriculum that enhance how I learn about the human body, the school has implemented new ways to help me become a better clinician. From stateof- the-art radiology equipment to the Palmer Center for Business Development, I have more opportunities to grow than anywhere else in the world. I hope that every alumnus has the experience of traveling back to Palmer and seeing what is available to me and my fellow students. I would love to give a tour to anyone who wants to remember what it feels like to be a student at Palmer College.

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