The academic teaching clinic at our chiropractic college in California remained open beginning in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and shelter-in-place order requiring individuals to stay at home except for essential activities. We report the experiences described by health center personnel who were present during the shelter-in-place early stages.


Narrative approach and descriptive thematic analysis of transcripts of 15 interviews with faculty, staff, and student interns. Report of key events and processes for developing ongoing COVID-related policies and procedures to conform with state and county public health mandates.


Themes included (1) Organizational processes and procedures; (2) Perceptions of safety; (3) Successful adaptations and responses; (4) Challenges; (5) Mental health and well-being; (6) Unanticipated benefits and opportunities; and (7) Reflections on chiropractic philosophy. Participants' initial fears diminished as they gained confidence in the safety conferred by the new procedures and a returning sense of normalcy. They discussed the importance of social connection, chiropractic wellness philosophy, and their personal beliefs within the context of the pandemic and public health mandates. Despite initial reductions in numbers of patients and procedures that could be performed, patients received continuing chiropractic care and interns were able to complete their academic requirements while experiencing unique learning opportunities.


Despite substantial challenges, the rapid response in the early stages of the pandemic enabled the college to fulfill the multiple missions of providing patient care, community support, and uninterrupted clinical education to student interns while conforming to public health mandates and guidelines.

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Author notes

Donna H. Odierna is a research specialist in the Research Department at Life Chiropractic College West (25001 Industrial Blvd, Suite 138, Hayward, CA 94545; dodierna@lifewest.edu) and an adjunct assistant professor in the College of Nursing at Samuel Merritt University. Monica Smith (corresponding author) is the Director of Research of the Research Department at Life Chiropractic College West (25001 Industrial Blvd, Suite 138, Hayward, CA 94545; msmith@lifewest.edu). This article was received July 29, 2021; revised November 8, 2021 and December 13, 2021; and accepted December 21, 2021.

Concept development: MS, DHO. Design: MS, DHO. Supervision: MS. Data collection/processing: MS, DHO. Analysis/interpretation: MS, DHO. Literature search: DHO. Writing: MS, DHO. Critical review: MS, DHO.