|| From interior design to chiropractic care, Schmitt has frightening but fulfilling change
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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.