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Parrsboro chiropractor receives Lifetime Achievement Award

Dr. Mary-Irene Parker accepts the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Chad Mykietuik, president of the council of the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors.
Dr. Mary-Irene Parker accepts the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Chad Mykietuik, president of the council of the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors. - Contributed

Dr. Mary-Irene Parker inaugural winner of award from N.S. College of Chiropractors

PARRSBORO, N.S. —

Dr. Mary-Irene Parker can honestly say she has accomplished something no one else before her has.

The 74-year-old Parrsboro chiropractor was recognized recently as the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award winner with the Nova Scotia College of Chiropractors.

“I sort of have mixed emotions in that I was on display, which was a little disconcerting, but at the same time you have to acknowledge to yourself the number of hours you have been away from home and family has been significant. Overall, it’s pleasing but it’s very humbling.”

Parker, who opened her first chiropractic office out of her Amherst home in 1983, never thought she would be recognized for her work in the profession, nor did she expect to. She entered the profession to help make a difference in people’s lives and it’s a motto – or goal – she still attempts to achieve with every patient, every day some 36 years later.

“I knew I was doing something good, but I never thought it would be acknowledged because there was really nothing there to recognize it,” she said. “It is pretty humbling to stand in front of a large group of your peers, including the president of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.”

A native of Advocate Harbour, Parker and her family moved to Ontario as her father was in the Royal Canadian Air Force. She spent all of her summers bouncing back and forth between Toronto and Cumberland County and some day dreamed of coming home full-time.

It wasn’t long after finishing at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and successfully completing her National Board of Chiropractic Examination in 1983 that she came back to Amherst.

“My goal was to move home by 1985 and it became a bit of a family joke, but I moved home to Willow Street in Amherst in 1983 and set up my practice,” she said. “Typical of parents, with me moving back to Nova Scotia where they had had such a difficult time in the 40s and 50s as a female chiropractor, their reaction was ‘whoa, are you ever going to make enough money. I remember my mom during my first Christmas in Amherst sending me a gift certificate from Sobeys for food.”

From one room in a house, her practice grew into Rainbow Chiropractic with an office before she sold her Amherst practice and moved to Parrsboro, where she still resides, in the late 1990s.

“I have to thank the people of Amherst because I appreciated them and they appreciated me. There is a pretty solid chiropractic base in Amherst and I think I was part of that,” Parker said. “The area I work in Nova Scotia is rewarding because the people are rewarding. There’s an opportunity for me to do what I’m trained to do and do a good job.”

She said it’s rewarding how patients, she only sees periodically, still send her Christmas cards or send birthday greetings through Facebook.

While many at her age would consider retirement, Parker said she has no plans to slow down as long as she continues to enjoy going to work every day.

“I’ve been told by several people that I’m probably going to do this til I die,” she quipped. “I love the people and the people I work with. I don’t like the paperwork part, but I still love doing what I do. As long as I believe I can be fulfilling to my patients I’ll keep doing what I do.”

While chiropractic medicine is something that hasn’t always been appreciated by others in the medical profession, Parker said she had an excellent relationship with several area physicians, including doctors Brian Ferguson and Celina White, whose son, Brad, is now a chiropractor in Enfield.

She is also thrilled with the number of young people entering the profession. When she started, chiropractors were few and far between in some communities. As she looked out across the room the night of the awards presentation, on Sept. 20, she was amazed at how many young faces there are in the profession.

“I find chiropractic today is much more dynamic and much more widely accepted. Today, very often, chiropractors are in multi-discipline centres with GPs, medical specialists, massage therapists and physical therapists,” she said. “You see it, not just in the big cities like Montreal and Toronto, but you see it in Halifax and Moncton. That’s the way of the future. The inter-professional relations are prized because people are understanding better what it is that chiropractic does and that it’s based on scientific based. You only have to visit the chiropractic college’s website to see the research that’s being done. There is a chiropractor at every major university in Canada doing research at this point. That was a dream when I graduated and now it’s a reality. That’s because the science of chiropractic has moved forward so fast.”

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