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From interior design to chiropractic care, Schmitt has frightening but fulfilling change
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Photo: Todd Mizener/tmizener@qconline.com
Chiropractor Dr. Jill Schmitt is seen in an office.
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Photo: Todd Mizener/tmizener@qconline.com
Chiropractor Dr. Jill Schmitt laughs in her office.
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Photo: Todd Mizener/tmizener@qconline.com
Chiropractor Dr. Jill Schmitt is seen in her office.
More photos from this shoot
Photo: Todd Mizener/tmizener@qconline.com
Chiropractor Dr. Jill Schmitt is seen in an office.
DAVENPORT — Chiropractor Jill Schmitt always knew she wanted to work in the health-care field, but it took her a while to get there.

The East Troy, Wis., native, who now lives in Eldridge, said she went to school for interior design in California and pushed her desire to work in health care "deep down in my heart."

"It was kind of a secret I always kept; I just never pursued it," Dr. Schmitt said.

She said she was introduced to the "corporate world" at school and left after her first year to get into the health club industry.

Several years later, she took a job in Milwaukee with Manpower International, an employment agency, where she did a lot of project management work, from buying furniture and arranging for it to be moved, to negotiating and renewing leases for the company's offices.

About 10 years later, Dr. Schmitt began working for Cumulus Broadcasting in Milwaukee, where she became vice president of facilities. A few years later, she got a Wisconsin Realtor's license and did some project management and brokerage work for Siegel-Gallagher, a commercial real estate service in Milwaukee.

"(I had a) very nice life," she said.

Then, a couple of life-altering events caused her to re-evaluate her career. The man she was working for, Jeff Siegel, became terminally ill. He asked whether she was doing what she "should be doing," whether she was living the life she wanted to live.

"I think it kind of brought those flames back up inside me," Dr. Schmitt said.

After he passed away, she said she began looking for similar work but nothing seemed to fit. Around the same time, a man who used to be a pastor at her church died in a private plane crash. Then, "I turned 40," she said.

Dr. Schmitt said she had learned about chiropractic care when she was in her late 20s and early 30s, "and it just resonated with me."

It was "more natural," she said, adding that it was "looking at trying to actually find the cause of a problem rather than masking (it)."

She said something inside her said, "You know what you want to do," so she began researching chiropractic schools and settled on Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport. "It had everything I needed. It just felt right."

It had been more than 20 years since she had been in a classroom, and she worried whether she was smart enough or had the stamina to keep up with her work.

But "I was excited about the future," she said.

Dr. Schmitt knocked out some prerequisites at Scott Community College and graduated from Palmer in 2007 with Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Chiropractic degrees. She opened Community Chiropractic, 3475 Jersey Ridge Road, Davenport, in February 2008 and has practiced there ever since.

She said she loved her work before, but "I just wanted to do this more."

Chiropractic care treats people "as a whole," she said.

She asks patients what they do for a living, what actions their jobs require them to do, how they sit, how they walk and how they sleep, looking for clues about why their bodies feel the way they feel.

"You're putting together a puzzle," she said.

The positions people sleep in play a role in their spinal alignment and how they feel, Dr. Schmitt said, hopping onto her adjustment table, lying on her side and drawing her knees up.

While the position is comfortable and soothing when we shut our eyes, Dr. Schmitt said the shift in her hips, the twist in her back, the strain in her neck with her head thrust forward and her chin tucked to her chest, takes the neck's natural curve in the opposite direction.

Her clinic space is a combination office, exam and treatment room. Warm, butterscotch-colored walls and complementing decor put your mind at ease when you walk through the door. Along the wall, several posters with brightly colored diagrams are hung.

"(I want my) patients to be educated. I'm a very visual person," Dr. Schmitt said, adding that she likes being able to show her patients what she is adjusting and why. "Part of my job is educating."

Dr. Schmitt said she enjoys working with patients on other aspects of their health, such as nutrition, sleep and exercise habits. She also helps coordinate care with a patient's other doctors, including other treatments, such as massage, yoga, acupuncture and the like, she said.

"That project management part of me has never left," she said, "and I think chiropractic allows me to do it."

Dr. Schmitt also is an adjunct professor for Kaplan University, teaching Anatomy & Physiology I and II.

She said leaving the corporate world she was good at and comfortable in to jump into chiropractic care was "frightening," but "it's never too late" to change careers.

"I feel fulfilled and challenged at the same time. I'm just happy. I love caring for people," Dr. Schmitt said.

Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)