Dr. Daniel Cook DC Interview by Tait Marketing
Dr. Daniel O. Cook is a chiropractor at DC Chiropractic Center in Salem, Oregon
Q: Why did you become a chiropractor?
I’m a second-generation chiropractor. My dad was a chiropractor. He went to school in California and I watched him with his career. I spent a lot of time working in his office and seeing how he helped people. I thought this would be a fantastic career to be involved with.
I was involved in a lot of sporting events as a high school student and developed some pretty good injuries, in wrestling primarily, and my dad would always fix me and get me better. I thought, “Man, this is awesome!” I can keep doing what I’m doing – I want to be active person, and lead an active, physical lifestyle, and if I get hurt somebody can help me get better, with out medication, without saying “here’s a pill to take.” Even starting in high school I began pursuing all of my science classes then because I knew that was what I wanted to do. About the time I was a sophomore in high school I made that decision – to be a chiropractor. So I just started working towards that goal. I served a two-year mission for the church back in Boston then came home and finished my degree and kept working. My dad is still practicing in Utah; he’s still there. When I graduated my goal was to go and work with him, in Utah. In fact, my last term of school, I did an internship – an externship – in his office. I met all of my other qualifications I needed to get done in order to graduate other than some time in the clinic. Most everyone from school stayed up in the Portland area for that kind of stuff, but I think I was one of only two or three guys who left the state to go work out of state. So I went down there to go work in his office. He had to sign off on paperwork and that kind of stuff to make sure everything was getting done right and fax it back to the school. I finished my externship there with him, and Utah didn’t feel right. Oregon – Salem – felt right. It felt good being here. I really enjoy the culture here, I enjoy the people, and I really wanted to stay here. I had moved all of my stuff out to Utah, my wife and kids had left all of their stuff here in Salem.
I graduated from Chiropractic College in December. My plan was that the last term I would work in Utah, and come back a few time to spend the holidays with my family. I was going to be back for graduation and Christmastime, and then move the whole family to Utah. My goal was to go to Utah and establish myself working, and establish my practice, secure residency, and find a place for my family to live. About half way through it, I couldn’t find anything that works, and I wasn’t really happy being back in Utah, and decided to change the plan. So instead of moving the family in December to Utah, I moved all of my stuff back to Oregon. Then we stayed here in Salem.
My first place I worked was in South Salem at another chiropractors office. That fell through after a little bit when our contract negotiations kind of fell through a little bit. Then I went in with another chiropractor instead also in South Salem which was a blessing. I worked really well with him – we had really good relationship and partnership together. I left his office and went on my own, and that’s where I’m at now. That’s kind of a nutshell of my ideas and thought process about becoming a chiropractor, and how I ended up here in Salem,
Q: What is it that you like about Salem?
Salem has a great diverse environment here. I’m a cyclist and a runner. Salem fits my cycling and running lifestyle perfectly, other than it rains too much. I’ve lived in southern California, which was better because I could cycle more during the year, so I liked that a lot. I love the people more than anything. I’ve got some great network of friends and business associates that I developed while I was in school when I was here. The connections I made in the community I didn’t want to leave. I have made some great connections here and I didn’t want to leave them. It would have been really tough.
Q: So other than all the rain, it’s really pretty perfect?
Salem’s great for families. I mean it’s not perfect, by any means, I mean I don’t think it’s a perfect area, but it’s worked out great for my family. Our church culture is really strong in Salem, which is important for us as well. Obviously, you can tell by just being here with all the LDS people I ran into here, we’ve got a great church culture, a great church network of friends, that it’s important for my kids to be involved with as well. It’s a strong network here; it’s been the biggest thing. Not just family, but family and friends, and professionally it just felt right. It was a good decision.
Q: Tell me more about your about you running and cycling. You do a lot of events – that’s a big part of the Salem community here too – you do the Hood to Coast, right?
I’ve done Hood to Coast I think nine times? Eight or nine times. Last year I did that big ride from Seattle to Portland – the STP – 206 miles in one day on my bike, that was pretty fun. I did a marathon back in 2009, and I do little running events throughout the year. I’m starting to transition more from running to cycling; I find that cycling is more efficient. It doesn’t hurt as much. Running just hurts, at least it does for me. My body is not really made for it. I love cycling; cycling is a lot of fun.
Q: Do you have any goals with your running and cycling?
Just fitness, that’s the main thing. We were going to STP again this year but two of my buddies that I rode with last year aren’t going to do it this year, they have other commitments. So because of that I’m probably not going to go either I think but we’re looking at some other rides that, some other pretty fun rides… there’s a 423-mile ride from Salt Lake City to St. George, Utah that’s a relay. You can either do a single rider, 423 miles – crazy – or you can do a four-man or an eight-man relay. So me and a couple of my buddies are thinking about maybe doing a four-man relay from Salt Lake City to St. George so it will be about a hundred miles each. That’s pretty doable. It would be pretty fun I think. So we’re kind of playing around with that idea, I’ve got an early ride, a spring ride, down in California, Northern California, that I’m thinking about doing with a couple of buddies down there. And then if I don’t do STP this year, which registration is today, so if I don’t sign up today I won’t probably get in, because it fills up really fast. There’s another one called MOTAJA, which is Logan, UT to Jackson Hole, WY, which is another double-century – over 200 miles. You’re climbing at elevation, so you’ve got some summits you’re climbing at over 8,000 or 9,000 feet in elevation, which would be more challenging than STP was. So we’re thinking about doing that this year, and Hood to Coast probably again this year, and who knows what else.
I do it more for fitness than anything. I don’t compete to win; I just do it because it’s good for me.
Q: Can you tell me about the type of people you help in your practice?
Primarily what we are doing in there is work comp and auto injuries, that’s been our main focus. However, I get a lot of – I don’t know – I just feel like I can really help anybody. So, whoever comes through the door, if I think I can help them feel better, that’s a positive thing for me. I like somebody who comes in that has acute lower back pain that can hardly walk, and they can walk out of my office. They may not be 100% pain-free but they can walk out better than they did when they came in. That’s pretty rewarding that I can help them, that I have that skill to help somebody move better. I find that is, I don’t know, that it’s a privilege, and that it’s something that I’ve been blessed to be able to do. It’s been a good thing.
So, it’s been primarily auto and work injuries, that are where our main focus is, but we see a lot of health insurance, a lot of cash patients and people come in.
Q: Do you do more than just chiropractic care in your clinic?
Yes. If you think of chiropractic care as just the adjustment itself, then we do a lot more than just that. We do all of the modalities, physical therapy modalities, exercise rehab, we send people home with exercise instructions to do at home and work on things. I not only promote a healthy lifestyle for myself, I promote that for my patients as well. I want them to be healthy. I want them to go out and run. If I can get somebody better and then I don’t see them for five years, I think that is a good thing. Because that means they are doing what they are supposed to be doing to stay healthy, and stay active, and to keep their back healthy. And that’s a good thing. Some people might not think it’s good – we should see people every month or whatever, but I want them to be active, to take care of their own health. I want them to promote themselves.
Q: That’s a cultural problem these days, where many Americans don’t exercise and it affects their health so it’s a good thing to promote being healthy, and being active.
Absolutely. If I have runners that come in – I think it’s great – every year I work on, whatever sport is in season for the high school athletes, I generally work on a couple of those athletes. Some of them were some of the elite of their groups. A couple years ago I went down to Eugene and watched some of the state track finals. I had some of the guys I had been working on from different schools here in Salem were competing down at the state meet and I went down there and watched some of them win state championships in their events. It was really rewarding to know that I helped them with whatever injury it was – if it was a knee problem, or a hip problem, or a back problem, or whatever it was I was helping them get through, they were able to get through it. They won state championships, which was fantastic. I have a couple wrestlers right now, now that wrestling season is on. You know the valley district wrestling meet is this weekend, Friday and Saturday. I’ve got one guy I’m really worried about, but I think he’s going to do well. I think he’s ranked between – off and on through the season – between 4th and 6th in the state. I hope he does really well this weekend. I’m pulling for him.
Q: Wrestling – that was once your sport, right?
Yeah, I wrestled in high school, too. So, it’s fun to – I’ve had, what – three or four different wrestlers from different schools come in this year. I’m sure if I told the wrestlers who I was seeing, they’d say “well, don’t help him get better” because some of the guys wrestle in the same weight class. “Hurt that guy – don’t make sure he gets better, I don’t want to wrestle him” kind of stuff. They’re good kids, it’s fun working with those athletes that want to improve and get better, and be healthy for their sport. The other focus I have is sports related injuries because I think it’s fun to work with those athletes.
Q: Is it always injuries or is it sometimes maintenance with the athletes?
Most of the time with the athletes I see most of the time its injury-based stuff. Rarely, do I see somebody who comes into my office for just maintenance. Usually it’s like “man, I’m hurting – I need to go and get this thing fixed.” The one wrestler I’m seeing now, the one that I’ve been seeing the most, he’s probably 90% better. So a lot of the stuff with him now is maintaining him. With these guys, with him in particular, I’m working more maintenance right now to maintain his strength and his shoulder until he performs again this weekend. Then I’ll be seeing him probably next week, for several visits, to try and keep – maintaining his shoulder again until state the following weekend, if he makes it to state. I could release him, and say “just go at it, and see how it does”, but I’m like, “we better keep you coming here and keep that shoulder strong and keep the inflammation out of that thing until you compete in state next week.” So we are maintaining his status right now to make sure he’s doing OK.
Q: Have you ever worked on any college athletes or pro athletes?
I’ve worked on one pro football player. Once. I’ve worked on several college athletes. The athletic trainer out at Western University, he hasn’t sent anyone in for several years now but he used to send people in. He’s a good friend of mine, another Mormon guy. So he’ll send his athletes over to be treated. The trainer over at Chemeketa Community College sends folks over, so I’ll see a couple – so I’ll see baseball players that she’ll send over – so I’ll see a couple baseball players come over, usually in the spring, with different injuries. I saw one pro football player; I don’t remember whom he played for. He came in, I saw him once for lower back pain. I told him he probably had a disc herniation that he had to get looked at, and I never saw him again. I think he didn’t want to be told that he had something wrong. I’m like, “well, do what you need to do to get this thing fixed, but you should probably get more studies to find out what’s going on in there.” I think he was actually sent over to see me from the trainer at Western before he went pro. A super nice guy. Big – the guy was like as big as a house.
Q: I know that you are involved in the community with your faith, how do you present that in your practice?
I think the majority of the patients that come in to see me at some point, if they’re there for more than three or four visits, know that I’m a Mormon. That I’m an LDS guy. I thinks that’s, I don’t put that up in the office anywhere, “come see me I’m an LDS chiropractor” or anything, but I think the majority of people know that I am. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing for my practice, I don’t know.
I think that I use my daughter serving a mission a lot in the office because you get to know people – I call it building a relationship of trust with somebody. Where I ask them questions about who they are – their backgrounds, family, interests, stuff like that – during our initial interactions with folks, and in the process of doing that I share some of my life with them. I think that builds that relationship with somebody, to kind of nurture that relationship. So in the process of doing that usually they’ll ask about my kids so I tell them about Kaley, that she’s away at college, she served a mission for our church, what church, where did she go, it’s always just a conversation piece. Pretty early on, people know that I’m LDS just based on our conversation, going to church, and even though religion is not something I talk about in the office. I fact, I’ve had patients ask me questions about religion, about faith, and I’m like, you know, it’s not like something I openly discuss in the office. I don’t think it’s necessarily a professional thing to do in the office. However, if you’re OK with it, and you’re asking questions, I don’t have a problem with responding to them, just as long as you know that we have this mutual agreement that you’re asking me this question. I’m not trying to force my faith on anybody while I’m there. Because Mormon’s are know as being missionaries and wanting to teach people about their faith, and I don’t want to turn anybody off by that. I’m not a forceful guy. I don’t want to sell my religion to somebody, that’s not why they’re coming to see me. They’re coming to see me so I can get their backs better. If they have questions I don’t have a problem responding to their questions. But pretty early on, I guess that most people know, from the first few visits, that I’m a Mormon guy, a family guy, about my kids. I also talk about stuff with my kids, camping, and outdoors stuff, getting out in the summer. Part of our church culture is that we do a lot of outdoors stuff. Have I received other patients because of being a strong Christian guy in the office? I’m sure, but the other guys are too. We’re all pretty strong Christian guys in the office. I have a lot of faith in helping ourselves become better, and helping our patients become well.
Q: Can you tell me about your family?
Obviously, family is very important to me, family is a big part of my life. They are probably my – probably on of my biggest priorities is my family, my kids. I do what I can to be with them and do things with them.
My oldest is my daughter Kaley; she’s 21. She’s at BYU Idaho studying to be a physical therapy assistant. She served a Russian-speaking mission, so she’s pretty fluent in Russian. She’s well rounded. If you could pick a child, and say I want this to be the most perfect child, she’s not going to fight with me when she’s a teenager, she’s not going to yell at me, she’s not going to fight back, she’s going to do what I ask her to do 90% of the time, she’s going to keep herself picked up and clean, be respectful… that’s Kaley. She’s just a really well rounded, a really good kid. She’s a student athlete – she got a national student athlete award when she was a senior in high school, one of two that was given to every high school in Salem. She’s just a really good, gifted athlete. She’s a volleyball player, and academic scholar. She graduated with a 3.99 from Sprague High School. She hasn’t been “as” good at college this year but she did her first year – she got almost all A’s at school the first year. She’s just a really good kid. A very faith driven kid, her faith is really important to her. It’s good to see her growing up into the woman that she’s become. She’s really just a well-rounded kid.
Ryan, my 17 year-old, a little bit more emotional, especially in his early teens. People say, “Well how was it having a young daughter in the house, going through all those hormonal changes?” It was fine. Sometimes I didn’t even notice. Ryan – a different story. You would think that Ryan was the one that was the female having emotional struggles at times but he’s a great kid. He’s doing very well. He’s 6 foot 4 and weighs about 155 pounds so he is a tall, skinny kid. He played goalkeeper for Sprague High School for two years junior and senior year. He plays racquetball, for Sprague High School. He’s dabbled in a few other things – he’s played tennis, he’s played soccer, baseball… He’s just a really nice kid – you know – loving, kind, personable, and helpful…
Nate, my 15 year-old, he’s 6 foot 3, he weighs about 160 or 165 pounds. He likes to play football; he’s a football kind of guy. Right now he’s running and doing track. He’s going to be a thrower for track. He wants to be a discus, javelin and shot put kind of kid for track. So he’s trying his hand at that this year, he’s a freshman. He’s like the class clown. He’s the one that’s always in trouble for goofing around in class, and for talking in class, for not being quiet. You can’t keep him quiet, and you can’t settle the kid down, he just is always going a hundred miles an hour. Always talking, always goofing around, and literally – I mean – we’ll get phone calls and emails from teachers saying hey, can you talk to Nate, because of this, or because of this, he’s just a funny kid. Nothing really bad, just it’s hard to contain him. A lot of energy.
My youngest son, Carter, he’s 13. He’s a little more quiet at times, more reserved. He’s kind of like his older brother, the 17 year-old, he’s kind of the same way, he can be kind of quiet sometimes. But Carter the sport he likes the most is basketball, he’s a basketball player. He’s going to do track this year as well. He does high jumping and long jump for track and he does sprints as well and the relay teams. He’s pretty fast. He’s probably the most athletic kid out of all of them. Kaley had to work really hard at it, Carter doesn’t have to work as hard, he has some natural abilities. It’s not been as challenging for him as it has been for some of the other kids. It doesn’t mean that he’s going to go anywhere other than high school to play sports. I would expect any of my kids to get an athletic scholarship anywhere but who knows. He’s got a spontaneously dislocating right shoulder, ever since birth. So he has to be careful when he plays basketball. If his arm is up in the air, and he shoots and gets hit, it can get popped out of the socket. I don’t think he’s had any issues while he’s been playing, but he can just sit there and relax his shoulder and – thunk – it pops out. We took him and had him looked at this past summer because he’s had some issues with it with it starting to get a little sore. The doctor said it’s not a matter of if but when, we have to have surgery to tighten up the joint cap because it’s just too loose. Basketball may not be something he’s going to continue just because even his shot is a little bit unstable sometimes. If you shoot, and you don’t you don’t have any stability in that shoulder to stabilize the ball, his shot isn’t always on. So, track might be something he has to settle with. Because you don’t have to use your arm for track. He can’t throw a ball very well, because his should dislocates. So he’s altered his throw and throws kind of funny. He can’t do pushups, because his shoulder dislocates with his pushups. So there are a lot of things he can’t do upper body-wise that affects that shoulder. Track might have to be something that he has to look at, that he can do and not have to worry about the shoulder so much. Because he run all he wants. He doesn’t have to worry about his shoulder dislocating. High jump – not so much, doesn’t have to worry about that either. But pole-vaulting – he’d probably have to worry about it. Long jumping and high jumping and sprinting, those are probably OK for him. He’s another well-rounded kid.
All the kids are really involved in their church activities. We have a youth program at church that they’re really involved with. I’ve been involved on and off with them in their youth programs. Even though I’m not actually in responsibilities over them directly right now, I still participate in a lot of their activities. All the camp outs, I go camping with them and spend time with them. I teach a Sunday school class at church every Sunday. I teach the ages of 14 to 15 year old kids. They’re a lot of fun. Great kids, they learn a lot and ask good questions. They absorb the information – it’s fun to watch. They are good kids. We’ve had kids come and go that haven’t been as good as others but this group we have in there right now they’re just fantastic kids. We see a lot of potential in all of them.
Q: Do you have any long-term goals with your practice?
To retire early. (Laughs) I love it so much. I’d want to see us expand a little bit more and get bigger. Not just in patient volume, but also in location, I’d like to be in a bigger location still so that we can accommodate our patients a little bit better. We’ve got four of us in the office now, and the acupuncturist, so we’re tight on space sometimes because we run so many people through the clinic on some days that it gets really, really tight. So it would be nice to have a bigger location, I would like to see us do that some day. Either that or downsize the number of physicians we have in there, down to two, so we can accommodate our patients a little bit better. But what we have now works, even though we are a little bit crowded, it works. I guess it’s fun too, when you have all of those cars out front and people in the lobby waiting to be seen and even though it’s a little bit stressful it feels kind of good too. That we have that many people coming to our office that we can help, it’s good. I think we have a pretty good reputation as far as a chiropractic clinic in Salem goes. We’ve got some good physicians in there and we treat people well, but it can get pretty busy in there sometimes. So, long range goals would be continuing to improve our patient care, and potentially, if we can, getting a bigger location to help more people.
Dr. Daniel Cook DC Interview by Nate Lapierre from Tait Marketing.