Rooted is all about the people and the places that make us proud to call our community home.
Dr. Ryan Garcia gets to help people every day. It was a goal the local chiropractor says he had set out for himself when he was very young.
“Chiropractic came about as something that I could do, to serve the community. When I was about six, I was diagnosed with leukemia. I spent quite a few years at Sick Kids Hospital and with the quality of care that I was given, as I grew up, I knew in my heart that I wanted to give back to the community the same way I did when I was little and going through chemotherapy,” he says.
In school, Ryan enjoyed math and science and brought that towards university by studying Kinesiology at McMaster University. From there, he sought out a career as a healthcare professional.
Dr. Garcia, who owns Elated Health and Wellness on O'Brien Street in North Bay, says the path to practicing as a chiropractor just fell into his lap.
“When it came time to apply, I basically put all my eggs in one basket and applied to the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and that was how it all started.”
Dr. Garcia says it can take some time to graduate in this field.
“It’s a minimum of three years of your undergrad degree and then four years of chiropractic school. You can do it all in about seven years, but I did eight,” he says.
“When I tell younger people how long it takes to do all of that, they are shocked that you can be in school for so long. But when I finished university, I still had the urge to learn and wanted to do something else and that’s where chiropractic came along.”
Dr. Garcia worked as an associate at two clinics in southern Ontario prior to moving his practice to North Bay.
“My brother lives not too far from North Bay and I would always visit him and that’s where this want to be here came about because I fell in love with this place. It’s something I realized very soon that there’s a beauty to this place and once you’re here it calls your name, and this is just where you want to be.”
Elated Health and Wellness is Dr. Garcia’s first practice of his own. Something that was “a dream of mine coming out of chiropractic school to operate in my own clinic.”
“When you own your own practice, you get to do what you want. You write the rules and the playbook.”
He adds some people have a misconception about what exactly a chiropractor does.
“People see chiropractors on YouTube or Tik Tok and it’s all about the “cracking” and they think that is all we do. But that is only part of what we actually do,” says Dr. Garcia.
“It’s changed over the years in how people practice. Spinal manipulation is only one tool we use to provide care. I also offer acupuncture as well. As a chiropractor we basically have a tool belt of multiple tools and depending on who comes in, we will determine which tools work best for you.”
Dr. Garcia says it can include things like deep soft tissue therapy, rehab, and exercise, a nutritional change or lifestyle change, acupuncture, adjustments, and education.
“Those are all the tools we put together to give the patient the best plan of care that we can do,” he says.
“Having been in practice for almost five years, the information does change over time and a lot of what we learned in school is the foundation. Once you start to practice that’s when you start to learn the nuances and the art of chiropractic, which means learning how to interact with patients and how to provide good quality care, and how to give them the best experience they can and get them to do what they want to do on a daily basis.”
When starting his business, Dr. Garcia says finding a physical location was the easier part of setting up his own business and once he established that and set up all the systems, he needed to run his business, the part that is a consistent work in progress is marketing and branding.
“It’s about branding yourself and putting yourself in the community where you can be seen and heard. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but it does take a lot of time and effort to really get yourself going on your own feet.”
Dr. Garcia says, “I always value word of mouth being the most organic where you are talked about by one person who highly recommends you and it extrapolates from there. But given today's society, you have to be on social media in some way, enough to be seen and you have to balance both of those. I really enjoy the organic reach when I do well with one patient who is happy with the first treatment and then they recommend me to the next person and the next person.”
Dr. Garcia says when he looks back on his accomplishments, he’s proud of how far he has come.
“It feels amazing to help someone. There was a little bit of doubt from the outside world when I was going through treatments, given the amount of therapy and radiation. Doctors said I would likely struggle through school and the academics might not be the strongest thing. Knowing that, I felt like in the back of my mind, even as a little kid, I felt like I had to prove people wrong in some sort of way or stand my ground and show that I can do something.
"I’m proud of myself for where I’ve gotten and now, this is just the beginning of a new chapter in my life and I plan to be here for the long haul. If I could go back to my younger self, I would give myself a pat on the back for doing what I did and putting myself in positions that led to where I am today.”