Internship is mutually beneficial learning experience

Jessica Jensen | Managing Editor

Chiropractic intern Kylie Keiser is getting valuable on-the-job training from Dr. Cody Hoefert and the staff at Lyon County Chiropractic. But the internship provides both doctor and intern an opportunity to learn. 

Keiser, a native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, completed her undergraduate studies at Dakota Wesleyan in Mitchell, South Dakota, Hoefert’s alma mater. During her junior year there, she did an internship at Lyon County Chiropractic, shadowing Dr. Hoefert. “He mentioned if I wanted to come back for a chiropractic internship that I was welcome,” said Keiser. Following her undergraduate studies, Keiser moved on to Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, Minnesota, also where Dr. Hoefert studied. Keiser is finishing up her final months in the chiropractic program there, completing her required clinical hours in the field in Hoefert’s Rock Rapids clinic. She will be done in November and graduate in December. 

For Keiser, becoming a chiropractor is something she knew she wanted to do when she was in seventh grade. “Throughout my life, I’ve always gotten chiropractic care. It’s something my mom instilled in me,” she said. A career day in junior high solidified her career choice. “I never second-guessed it,” said Keiser. “I enjoy helping people in a natural, holistic way.” 

In her time at Lyon County Chiropractic, Keiser said she’s learning some skills that aren’t necessarily taught at school. “The biggest thing I’m getting is the administrative work — everything that’s done behind the scenes. I didn’t know a lot of it existed or what to do or how many steps there were,” she said. “Dealing with insurance agents, contacting patients — I feel so naïve in some of these areas that I’m getting more of a grasp on it here.” 

Keiser is also appreciating the small-town atmosphere of the clinic and community. “The flow Dr. Cody has here is different than in clinics in the city,” she said. “People know you a lot more here so it’s nice to engage in that aspect and get to know the patients.” 

The internship process gives Dr. Hoefert an opportunity to teach all the aspects of running a clinic. “One of the things I tell students when they’re coming here is, ‘One of the experiences you’re going to get here is you’re going to run my clinic.’ Kylie’s experienced that. She’s sat in on every decision we’ve made, she’s paid the bills, she helps do the payroll,” he explained. “She helps do all that so she really gets to see what it takes to run a clinic. It’s not just treating patients. It’s managing people, it’s managing budgets, it’s making business-type decisions.” These skills are things Dr. Hoefert agrees aren’t taught in school. “They teach you to be a great chiropractor but not necessarily how to be a great business person. So that’s one of the things I try to instill in interns is, ‘Here’s what it takes to run a successful business.’ You can treat all the patients you want but if you have no idea how to manage people or a budget and make it work, you can’t keep the doors open and it doesn’t matter how good a chiropractor you are.”

Dr. Hoefert also says it’s important to give back to the future of the profession. “I think it’s critically important and I think, no matter what profession you’re in, to try and make it better than what you inherited. That’s what I’m trying to do with Kylie and to show you don’t have to do all these big, elaborate, expensive things to be successful. If you provide good care and care for people and take good care of them, they’ll take good care of you.” 

The patients at Lyon County Chiropractic are also benefitting from Keiser’s learning experience. “One of the things Kylie provides is she practices a little differently than I do in terms of her technique. Kylie comes in with some things that are a little different with her muscle work that brings a different perspective and gives patients an opportunity to have a different experience,” said Dr. Hoefert. 

Having an intern in his clinic is beneficial to Dr. Hoefert as well. “One of the most important things for us and part of our mission statement is to give back, impact, make a difference in the community and make a difference in the world around us. I had people that were mentors to me and one of the ways I can pay that forward is to do the same for someone else,” he explained. This is the third or fourth intern Dr. Hoefert has had in the clinic, which he opened in Rock Rapids 14 years ago. “It gives me an opportunity to see things done a little differently and remind me, ‘Yes, this is how you practice but maybe you need to think about adding this or changing that’ so it challenges me and helps me grow and be better by having her around,” he explained. “She asks a lot of really good questions about health care and the business which allows me to re-assess, ‘Am I practicing the way I truly want to practice?’ and reinforces some of those things and reminds me of things I could do differently or better.” 

At the completion of her internship, Keiser plans to go on to a five-month program to become certified in animal chiropractic. After getting her dog, Sylvie, a peek-a-poo, she recognized a need for the care. “There’s only one (animal chiropractor) in Sioux Falls and I just think there’s a big market for it,” said Keiser. She plans to open her own clinic for both humans and animals in May. 

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