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Eye-opening Tonga service trip draws 2,200 seeking care

Life West student Josh Wheeler talks with a patient during a recent service trip to Tonga.


Life Chiropractic College West’s latest service trip in March provided the experience of a lifetime for 13 interns and seven chiropractors who traveled to the South Pacific island nation of Tonga. The Life West team set up shop for three days and treated 2,200 Tongan citizens.

“These people have no access to chiropractic unless we bring it to them,” Dr. Scott Donaldson, Vice President of Clinical Operations at Life West, said. “The government supports us, and we’re giving back to these people again and again.”

The trip served as an eye-opener for many of the traveling students, who talked about how the service trip aided their personal and professional growth during a recent Friday seminar on campus.

“It was a really great opportunity to adjust a lot of different body types from a lot of different backgrounds, in completely different settings,” Tim Arena said while recalling stories that included adjusting a child with a very short leg.

“I saw 150 people in three days,” added fellow Life West student Josh Wheeler. “In adjusting that many people, I learned so much. I can’t think of a more valuable learning environment.”

Each intern and doctor was set up at a different station, and many were practicing wildly different techniques to treat their patients. Many of the patients visited the clinic twice a day for three days, and the tales of long-term pain being healed through chiropractic mounted.

“Everybody was doing something different, but we all had common goals of clearing subluxation and helping patients recover and gain better health,” Arena said. “I thought that was really cool.”

This was Life West’s second trip to Tonga, and a third journey is being planned for June. Students interested in taking part in that service trip should contact Dr. Donaldson by email at sdonaldson@lifewest.edu.

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