Adapting to changes, expected and unexpected
by Freelance Writer Beverly Knight
Nylsa Correa, D.C., began her road to chiropractic far from Spartanburg, SC. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, she always knew that she wanted a career in health care.
It was not until she was 16 and first experienced chiropractic as a patient that she became aware of the benefits of chiropractic care. “Everything just made sense, the philosophy, and the science behind it,” she says of the attraction that she felt instantly and which led to her decision to pursue a career in chiropractic. “I wanted to help kids and families, and I wanted to help them be healthy, not just avoid getting sick.”
Her first step was to attend Universidad de Puerto Rico where she earned a bachelor of arts in biology. After she graduated, the aspiring chiropractor knew that she wanted to study in the United States to complete her chiropractic training.
Though she was attracted to Sherman’s smaller size and “sense of community,” her parents were reluctant to let their oldest daughter study that far away from home without a support system.
They convinced her to enroll at Life Life University because the family had friends in Atlanta who could help her make the transition. But after one year, she convinced her parents to let her transfer to Sherman.
When she graduated from Sherman in 1999, she returned to Puerto Rico where she opened her first practice in a small space in her father’s dentist office. Her practice focused on families and particularly children. Then she faced her next transition. In 2001, she met and married her husband, Jean-Andre Figarella.
Figarella wanted to relocate to Virginia, where his family already lived, to attend Strayer University, headquartered in Arlington. They moved to Virginia in 2002 and she opened an office there in 2003. “He tricked me,” Correa says of her “computer geek” husband and their “temporary” move to Virginia. “The plan was to go back to Puerto Rico as soon as he was finished with school, but in his line of work, the opportunities were better here than in Puerto Rico so we have stayed here.”
That meant Correa’s transition to life in the United States had become more permanent. And she had to start her practice, Naturally Chiropractic in Stafford, Virginia, without the family support she’d had in her home country. Then the births of their children, Shanti and Gian Carlo, made it necessary for her to adjust her career plans once again to accommodate “mom time.”
But in many ways, she says, that transition has focused her practice in a way that she had always wanted. Knowing the demands that a family makes on her own life has made it easier for her to treat the babies and pregnant moms that make up much of her practice. And since she lives near Quantico, she says, “I might see a two- to three-week-old baby and then a 300-pound Marine.”
One of the things she loves best about her career is that it gives her the freedom to adapt her hours and days in the office so that she can spend quality time with her children. “During summer I can come home and have lunch with them,” Correa says of her practice, which she limits to three days a week. “And I have the freedom to take my kids with me to the office, something that has even made my patients more comfortable about bringing their own children when they come for an adjustment.
There have been so many changes in her life that she has become accustomed to them, so much so that when people comment on all she’s done, it always surprises her. “One thing I’ve learned is that with every transition, it’s good to have a plan, but you have to be able to adapt to changes, expected and unexpected,” the accomplished adapter says. “I did have a plan to have a career in chiropractic. But it’s also good to recognize that things change, that you have to find what works for you and for your family situation. “Finding that balance is the key.”
The key to success and happiness in any career is the ability to adapt to change, to navigate life transitions smoothly. And it’s clear that a career in chiropractic requires the ability to adapt to both planned and unplanned transitions.