Published Sept. 25, 2019
Dr. Virgilio Paniagua was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico and grew up in Boston, Mass. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass., followed by his Pre-Med degree from Quincy College. He then graduated from Texas Chiropractic College in 2006. From 2006 to 2007, he worked at Allied Medical Center in Houston. Shortly after he moved to Puerto Rico and worked as an associate doctor for various chiropractors on the island while obtaining his CCSP and ICCSP.
In 2009 he opened up his own clinic in Cayey, Puerto Rico. He has participated in several Central American games (2010) and Pan American games (2015). Dr. Paniagua has served in leadership roles for multiple organizations, including as the treasurer of the Puerto Rican Chiro Sports Committee from 2010 to 2016, the secretary of the Chiropractic Association of Puerto Rico from 2014 to 2016, the vice president of the Chiropractic Association of Puerto Rico from 2016 to 2018 and currently as the president of the Chiropractic Association of Puerto Rico.
Read about how Dr. Paniagua chose chiropractic and why he thinks interprofessional collaboration is important in health care in the full Q&A below.
Why did you choose TCC?
I was looking for a school that would balance both the art of chiropractic and the science behind it. As I was looking for different programs, I loved the fact that TCC was one of the oldest institutions. I was also intrigued at the preceptorship programs that TCC had to offer, especially at Bayshore Medical Center. The class size was a plus because, coming from a small university, I knew the importance of a small student-to-teacher ratio. The science of chiropractic has always fascinated me, and I knew that TCC would give me the tools to allow me to be the best health care provider. Health care in today’s society is most successful with a multidisciplinary approach to problem solving. TCC shows us to successfully navigate the waters of our health care system.
Why did you choose chiropractic?
I think chiropractic chooses you… As an athlete, I was always subjected to the wear and tear of the sport I practiced. I was always fascinated about the biomechanics of the body and how the body is able to perform at an optimum level if provided the right conditions. During my undergraduate years, I worked as an EMT and I began to see that that there was a missing component in our health care system. I was great at stabilizing patients, but I asked myself about the long-term care that the patient needed afterwards. I learned that chiropractic looks at the complexity of the body and the nervous system in ways that are different than what traditional medicine offers. We give patients a way of solving their health care concerns with a hands-on approach. I loved the fact that we can provide patients a choice in alternative treatment in order to bring better health to the community we serve. I have always loved to serve and help others. From the soup kitchens in Boston to working as an EMT, and to now practice as a chiropractor, it has always been in my nature to help. That is why I believe this profession chose me. It has integrated all the core beliefs that I have towards providing better health.
How did TCC prepare you for your career?
As I mentioned previously, TCC allowed me to integrate chiropractic care in a clinical multidisciplinary practice. In my small community of Cayey, Puerto Rico, we have the orthopedic surgeon, the emergency and primary doctor, the podiatrist and the chiropractor all work together to provide for the well-being of our community. In addition, as acting president of the Puerto Rican Chiropractic Association, I have been working with health care insurance and continuing to pursue the right for the Puerto Rican community to have chiropractic care. With this, I have to provide a scientific dialogue of how chiropractic is essential to our health care system and I thank TCC that I am able to do that.
What was your favorite memory from TCC?
My favorite memory at TCC is drinking the 50-cent coffee with my two Canadian friends before running to the clinic. We would sit on a couch next to the bookstore and plan our days and cry or laugh about midterms and finals. The coffee wasn’t so good, but the company I had in those moments lasted a lifetime. I also fell asleep in Dr. Friesen’s biochemistry class and she was kind enough to tell my classmates not to wake me up because she knew it had been a long week for me.
Do you have any advice for TCC students about to start their chiropractic careers?
You have the tools to become great doctors. Do not doubt your abilities. Always listen to your patients and be willing to learn from the people around you. Ego is your worst enemy and it prevents you from simplifying complex problems. You will have to listen to your clinical staff as well as your secretary and assistant. They are the greatest resources for you to see what may be missing in the equation. Health care is individualized and there is no standardized version. There will be protocols and procedures, but it is up to you to fill in the boxes of your patients’ diagnosis. Be humble, be grateful and be yourself. The rest will flow naturally.