Deepa Gulrajani, the 2015 national chair of the Student American Chiropractic Association (SACA) National E-Board, is a student at New York Chiropractic College and will graduate in December 2015. She has served as vice president for SACA’s NYCC chapter, worked with ACA’s specialty councils as national specialty councils cochair, planned the 11th student leadership conference in Roanoke, Va., as a leadership conference chair in 2014 and was elected to serve as the national vice chair of SACA.
Why did you choose to pursue chiropractic?
I like to think that chiropractic chose me. I went to college with the intention of becoming a pharmacist, but I realized during my third year of a six-year undergraduate and Doctor of Pharmacy program that I wanted to have more personal interaction with patients. A friend of mine was just beginning at NYCC and introduced me to the field. Seeing the immediate relief patients feel after receiving chiropractic care and its whole-body approach to health care drew me in.
Why is it important to get involved in SACA?
I am able to be a part of the bigger picture. It’s important to be active on campus because the skills and experiences you gain will translate into the professional world. As future DCs, it is our responsibility to be the voice of our profession and steer its direction. As a student leader, I have learned to be an integral part of a team, to set goals and to achieve those goals. Getting involved with SACA has allowed me to refine my leadership skills and molded me into a much more driven and mature person.
What goals do you have for SACA during your 2015 term?
My overarching goal as SACA chair is to improve communications between students and ACA. I have access to all of the relationships and teams that are actively fostering great leadership, so I can facilitate and promote that work. I want to ensure ACA and its members hear students’ opinions and realize the value of what our students are working on, both on our campuses and on a national level. I also want to ensure that students comprehend the importance of SACA. If I have an opinion about how our profession can be improved, I can work on those changes as a SACA member. I want students to know that it’s easy to get involved and to encourage them to do so.
Why do you think #PainFreeNation, the NCHM 2015 theme, is relevant?
Pain: a term that affects our entire population. I feel that a large percentage of our population believes that medication, either prescription or over-the-counter, is the first line of defense. After reading the literature and interning in a pain management group, I agree that there is an overuse of prescription medications, and I want people to realize that it's not a long-term solution. While medications have their place, it's important to recognize the benefits of a drug-free, conservative approach to pain relief.
I'd like to see more health care professionals working together to deliver patient-centered care. Working as an intern under Ralph Mangels, DC, I was able to see the interactions between he and the neurologists. They would refer many patients to chiropractic care, and I saw patients decrease the amount of pain medications or completely stop.
As chair of SACA, I would like to encourage each chapter to share statistics (available to you in the NCHM toolkit) with their peers. In addition, students of SACA are social media savvy and can help spread an online presence for NCHM through various platforms. SACA will stand with the ACA and our supporters to promote conservative care first and a #PainFreeNation for this year's National Chiropractic Health Month!
What is the importance of attending events such as the SACA Leadership Conference or NCLC?
Being a part of SACA opened up opportunities to attend ACA’s two largest events, NCLC and SACA Leadership Conference. Both of these have allowed me to develop relationships with students and leaders across the country. I believe that SACA is the future of ACA. We work with other students, doctors and leaders toward common goals and drive positive change where needed.
What are the benefits and/or challenges of being a female DC student AND leader?
Historically, chiropractic has been male-dominated, but recently there has been a rise in the number of women entering our field. My class of more than 100 students is virtually a 50-50 split of male and female. It’s hard to pinpoint any specific challenges, especially given how supportive the vast majority of my peers and mentors are. I do believe that my “feminine intuition” makes me perceptive and reflective, allowing me to bring a different viewpoint to our organization. It’s always beneficial to have a diversity of ideas and perspectives.
What are your plans after graduation?
Graduation is coming Dec. 5, 2015! My plans are to work in a multidisciplinary or integrated practice. I am currently working toward a master’s degree in human anatomy and physiology instruction, which would allow me to teach A&P in an undergraduate or graduate setting. I am also taking classes to obtain a diplomate in clinical neurology through the Carrick Institute; I will finish both within my first year as a DC. We must remain lifelong learners. Good clinicians always seek out opportunities to further develop their skills, and this pursuit of education also advances our profession. I will continue to push myself to stay current with research.
Deepa Gulrajani, ACA member since 2012. Send suggestions for future member profiles toACAnews@acatoday.org.