Vanessa Morales, DC, is a professor and director of clinical assessment at Parker University in Dallas, Texas. She developed an online clinical curriculum focused on evidence-based practices, utilizing best practice guidelines and applying them to various clinical scenarios, from documentation to care plan creation and progressions. Dr. Morales also focuses on interdisciplinary communication and co-
management, performs critical appraisals of musculoskeletal-related literature, incorporates telehealth, and places heavy emphasis on social determinants of health and the biopsychosocial model.
Dr. Morales, along with Kristi Carbonelli, DC, will present “Pain is Multifaceted, Your Treatment Should Be, Too” on Friday, Jan. 27, 2023, at ACA’s annual meeting, Engage 2023. Below, we learn more about what doctors can expert:
How is the topic you are presenting at Engage 2022 relevant to today’s chiropractor?
Dr. Morales: Pain is the No. 1 reason individuals seek help from a provider. Our understanding of pain has evolved greatly in the past few decades. These changes influence how we communicate with those seeking aid, our diagnoses, how we work and care for them, how we collaborate care with others, how we can involve our communities, and more. Best practice guidelines recommend utilizing a biopsychosocial approach, but what this actually looks like in practice is still relatively new and can get lost in translation. Our session aims to bridge the gaps between the evidence and applications in practice.
What first made you interested in the topic?
Dr. Morales: I first became interested in this topic in early 2012, after I had recently graduated and ended up having a very difficult pregnancy. I became very depressed and anxious after doing everything I thought I knew to be true and seeing no change in my outcomes. I knew there had to be more to learn, understand and apply.
What practical knowledge or skills can attendees expect to take away?
Dr. Morales: Our session will strengthen attendees’ knowledge and understanding of the most up-to-date evidence on pain and conservative management. Topics that will be explored during the presentation range from easy-to-make changes on intake forms and learning how the history and exam process can be the start of an individual’s healing, to applying motivational interviewing techniques to increase patients’ participation in care and learning about evidence-supported co-management and referral options.
How will what attendees take away make them better doctors?
Dr. Morales: The information from this session will help attendees focus on the patient as a whole, socioeconomic factors and all. When we can better understand the many factors influencing someone’s pain, we can improve how we communicate it to them and work together to create meaningful outcomes. This has changed how I work with others — in and out of the clinic environment — for the better.
What benefits do you gain from attending ACA Engage?
Dr. Morales: When the ACA changed the name for its annual conference from “National Chiropractic Leadership Conference” to be “Engage” in 2020, I was excited and on board for the transition. Engage is not only easier to say and write (we sure do love our acronyms in this profession!), but it’s a great action word that perfectly captures what I love most about attending: engaging with colleagues about treatments, research, difficulties in practice; working together to help create policy changes that improve our communities; and just getting away from the normal work routine to be around like-minded individuals who want to be better. The energy is contagious and ongoing beyond the conference.