New Dean of College of Chiropractic comes full circle to Northwestern

Liala Helal | April 30, 2015

Trevor H. Foshang joined Northwestern Health Sciences University April 1 from Parker University in Dallas

Dean Trevor Foshang

The first chiropractic college Trevor Foshang had ever heard of when he began exploring a chiropractic career more than two decades ago was Northwestern.

Foshang, who joined the Northwestern Health Sciences University community April 1 as Dean of the College of Chiropractic, was studying sports medicine and kinesiology as an undergraduate in Thunder Bay, Ont., when a Northwestern alumnus, Dr. Patrick Manduca, gave him the opportunity to shadow him at his chiropractic practice to find out what chiropractors do. Manduca is a 1988 graduate of Northwestern College of Chiropractic, as it was named then.

“He had a tremendous influence on me,” Foshang said. “This particular individual opened his door to me to let me experience what chiropractic looked like.”

Even from an observational perspective, Foshang was intrigued by the profession.

“Looking at healthcare in general, chiropractic spoke to me,” Foshang said of his shadowing experience. “It made sense to me that you would try conservative means to remedy a disease, a disorder, a dysfunction prior to choosing a more invasive method.”

Foshang completed an honors bachelor of kinesiology and sports medicine degree (HBKin) from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, but thanks to Manduca, he knew what he wanted to do next. He went on to earn his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Logan University in Missouri, and went to practice with Manduca after his residency. The two opened a practice together in 2002, College Park Chiropractic in Thunder Bay. “So it kind of comes back full circle, (Northwestern) is where I end up, and hopefully I stay here for the duration of my career.”

‘A place to find home’

Northwestern’s academic approach provoked Foshang’s interest in taking a leadership role.

“Northwestern’s got a very integrative premise behind their brand of chiropractic,” he said. “They look at chiropractic and healthcare in general as an integrative process, kind of a holistic process where the patient’s needs are really the central focus.”

He was also impressed with the clarity of direction, mission and vision of the University’s president, Dr. Chris Cassirer, especially articulated in his inaugural speech, Foshang said.

“Clarity of direction is incredibly important in this particular profession,” Foshang said. “Because there are so many different perspectives about chiropractic, an institution can get lost in that if they don’t promote a particular vision, but try to be attractive to all students that are coming in, whether they have a preconceived idea of what chiropractic is or not. Northwestern’s premise is really directed toward that integrative model — this is another reason why it’s an incredibly attractive place for me to find home.”

Transformational education

Foshang grew up in Thunder Bay and practiced with Manduca until 2005, when he moved to Dallas to take a faculty position with Parker University. He held positions including radiology residency director, and director of clinical radiology at Parker University, and most recently served as the chair of the Department of Clinical Sciences since 2008.

His comprehensive and well-rounded background includes more than nine years of progressive administrative experience in the college setting, accreditation and program assessment, and more than 15 years of teaching at Parker University and Logan College of Chiropractic, where he says he endorsed lively discussion and problem-solving over simply imparting information, and where he aimed to inspire and empower students.

“Education is supposed to be a truly transformational experience for the student,” Foshang said. “…But not just a transformational educational experience — we’re responsible for not only building a professional, but we’re also trying to help make people more aware and socially responsible. I think this is an incredible opportunity for an institution.”

His experience in a variety of sides of the profession make him stand out in his new role.

“I think it’s incredibly important for someone in a leadership role to have had clinical experience,” he said. “I also have consulting experience, so not only am I seeing patients directly, but I’m helping other doctors in the field manage their patients.”

His ability to relate to faculty responsibilities will also be an asset.

“For lack of a better term, I know what goes on in the trenches,” Foshang said. “I think it’s incredibly valuable at this particular level of administration to understand teaching experience. Many administrators come from another administrative job, and they lose touch with what’s going on in the classroom. I am very much in touch with what’s going on in the classroom.”

‘Push the envelope of what chiropractic is’

Foshang also comes to the position with more than 10 years of experience as a chiropractic radiologist interpreting musculoskeletal diagnostic image studies, plain film, CT and MRI for referring doctors and patient management.

“As a student in the world of chiropractic, I really gravitated toward evidence-based material, and radiology is very well-established in that — it transcends many different professions; many of the professions use radiology consultants to help manage their patients,” Foshang said. “It speaks to my interest in providing the best possible care for the patient.”

Foshang has owned and operated two chiropractic clinics, and he also currently owns a radiology consulting practice. In service to the chiropractic profession, he has done extensive work with the American Chiropractic College of Radiology, where he has been a member for 12 years and served on its executive leadership team for the past five years as vice president and president. He currently holds the Past President title on the leadership team.

“The practice of service, as a social and professional responsibility, is a concept I believe in,” he said.

He looks forward to improving organizational health at Northwestern, he said, and wants to create a level of trust, clarity, accountability and shared purpose among the college community.

“Another thing that’s clearly important for me as I step into this role is advancing the profession in its most basic form,” Foshang said. “We need to truly push the envelope of what chiropractic is, advancing it. This means we do more in our community to get the word out, so to speak, but we also look at research opportunities to help provide an increase in the body of knowledge of what chiropractic does for patients.”

He describes his management style as decentralized, promoting collaboration and teamwork.

“Clearly, somebody needs to be in charge, but what I have to say doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the right direction,” Foshang said. “Collaboration is how I will function.” He also hopes to bring synergy and stability to the Northwestern, he said.

The new dean is expecting to complete his Doctorate of Education degree this year from Walden University in Minneapolis. His dissertation is about leadership effects on organizational culture in higher education.

Moving to the Twin Cities with his wife, Shari, and his children Madeline, 10, and Mitchell, 8, Foshang looks forward to continuing his active lifestyle. He is an avid runner, golfer, and grew up canoeing and backpacking in Canada. “Northwestern is in a really great location to provide that kind of active lifestyle,” he said.

He is passionate about using his forward-thinking approach on the job and is interested in always thinking about the future of the profession, and how Northwestern can continue carrying the profession forward in its training of future doctors, starting on their journey of discovery as he once was.

“The first chiropractic college’s name I ever knew was Northwestern,” Foshang said. “I’ve loved Northwestern ever since. Their premise is very much in line with what I believe the direction of chiropractic needs to go.”

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