PEAK stands for Practice, Excellence, Art and Knowledge, which are key attributes to success in any venture. The PEAK Clinical program is a crown jewel of chiropractic education at Life U, designed to allow senior interns to complete their clinic requirements under the direction of an off-campus doctor.

PEAK has grown tremendously since its 2007 inception, with an original roster of 10 students and 10 partnering doctors in its pilot quarter. Director of PEAK Dr. John Markham, D.C., taught for many years at Life U before stepping away from teaching for a decade. He returned to the University in 2006 to guide the ship of this fledgling endeavor following the vision of Dr. Tim Gross, then Director of Clinics.

“[The goal is] to try to bridge the gap between the clinic experience for student doctors and the fieldwork of the practice. It was felt they could get out and apply what they have learned here in a private office, learning at a different pace. They’d be better prepared for the field of practice,” said Dr. Markham.

PEAK averages at a little more than 200 active PEAK students per quarter, with 600 active credentialed doctors and 1,400 total lifetime participating doctors, according to Dr. Markham.

“I’ve always believed that to whom much is given, much is required. Knowing that I came from a chiropractic family on both sides and had the opportunity to start my practice much easier than most other people had, I felt a propensity for giving back to our students and our profession through the internship program,” said PEAK Dr. Cris Eaton-Welsh of Eaton Chiropractic. “Additionally, I have a DBA in accounting and a business background, which has set me up as an entrepreneur as well as a chiropractor, and I spent a lot of my time with the students helping them navigate the idea of running a business.”

Qualifying Doctors of Chiropractic receive credentials through the PEAK application process and become a Life University Extension Faculty member. PEAK doctors serve as mentors to help interns develop clinically and prepare to make the transition from school to practice.

The PEAK Program is for student interns in their 13th or 14th quarters of study who are in good academic standing and have passed the 12th quarter OSCE exam. Student interns work with PEAK doctors to provide patient care and fulfill other assignments given by their supervising PEAK Doctor. Students are a participating team member of the clinic and a valuable part of the practice team. Interns perform history examinations, diagnoses and X-rays; provide chiropractic adjustments; and complete a Learning Objective Worksheet each week.

It’s not uncommon for PEAK student interns to later become PEAK doctors, continuing the tradition and passing down their knowledge. Dr. Sean Medlin of Clear Connections Chiropractic is one such student-turned-chiropractic mentor.

“I had two doctors that I was able to shadow [Dr. Bob Schumacher and Dr. Joe Esposito],  and they impacted me pretty much for the rest of my life. It was very strong foundational learning,” said PEAK Dr. Medlin. “It’s really fun to be able to tie into the next generation of chiropractors and provide a foundation for them so that they don’t learn bad habits.”

In many programs, student interns mostly just observe a practice. This is clearly not the case with the Life U PEAK Program. PEAK Dr. Drew Rubin of Rubin Family Chiropractic has worked with PEAK since 2010 and recently has his 78th student intern go through the PEAK program at his office. Dr. Rubin comments on the “remarkable” opportunity that PEAK gives students to learn in a hands-on environment.

“[The student interns] are extensions of me. They’re adjusting. They really are [acting as doctors while working toward their license],” said Dr. Rubin.

This experience allows interns to gain valuable insights into the nuances of running a profitable practice and the rewards of providing quality chiropractic care. In many cases, the PEAK Doctor is not only a facilitator in the student intern’s development, but they also become a lifelong mentor.

Placement options in the PEAK Program are as unique as the individuals participating. Students can choose to work at a Life U-affiliated outreach clinic or at a private chiropractic office with a PEAK Doctor in Georgia or 29 other states. And for students with a strong desire to expand their global horizons, the International Clinic Program under PEAK offers opportunities for students to spread the benefits of Chiropractic worldwide. Currently, PEAK sends students to Sweden, New Zealand, Peru, Ghana and Argentina.

For more information regarding PEAK, International Clinic Programs or to find out how to qualify and apply to be a PEAK host doctor, please contact Dr. John Markham at John.Markham@life.edu.