Dr. Abby (Monnin) Heppner

Dr. Abby (Monnin) HeppnerFocused

Combining a love of science and a desire to help people with interest in owning her own business, Dr. Abby (Monnin) Heppner opened Heppner Chiropractic in Salem, Ore., less than four years after her Bluffton graduation in 2005.

In her new business was the fulfillment of a plan for the Fort Loramie, Ohio, native, who "knew that I would be a chiropractor," she says, after learning about the profession in high school and shadowing a practitioner for only a day or two. She was "impressed with the healing that happened in his office," she remembers, explaining that people who could barely walk in came out feeling better 10 minutes later.

Finding what she needed. Heppner says she chose Bluffton because it was close to home and featured a faith-based environment where she felt she could grow in that part of her life. She chose a major in biology, because it seemed to provide the best prerequisite background that she would need for chiropractic school.

"So many of the science professors were really helpful," she recalls, and the undergraduate courses she took in such areas as biochemistry and anatomy prepared her for similar classes at Logan College of Chiropractic in St. Louis. "It was just great to have such a solid foundation of knowledge to build on," says Heppner, who went on to earn awards during her Logan internship for both clinical excellence and leadership in teaching chiropractic technique.

Moving forward. In May 2008, seven months before graduating from Logan, she married Robb Heppner, also a 2005 Bluffton alumnus. Robb, a business administration graduate, was from Salem, the Oregon state capital, where Abby opened Heppner Chiropractic in March 2009, only three months after earning her Doctor of Chiropractic degree.

"Being a small-town Ohio girl, it was a little nerve-wracking moving that far away," she admits, but "it's working out really well." Overseeing an office of nine people—including another chiropractor, three massage therapists and support staff—she now treats 30-40 patients per day in her general family practice.

Treating patients. The primary ailments that patients come to Heppner with are headaches and low back pain, she says. Her patients receive thorough, full-spine examinations complete with orthopedic testing to determine the cause of their pain. If an exam shows the cause to be misalignment of the spine, she adjusts it either manually or with an instrument called an Activator. Heppner has received the highest possible proficiency rating in the Activator technique.

She also sees patients with wrist pain, knee pain and other joint issues, as well as older people with arthritis and babies with colic or ear infections. Regardless, she points out, the concept is the same—checking for spinal misalignment (adjustments with babies are "just much more gentle," she notes) but also discussing exercise, nutrition and other ways of treating health problems without medication.

Heppner says she feels the chiropractic profession is getting more respect than it once did. "In the past, there was so much skepticism, but now there's a lot more scientific research behind why what we do works as well as it does," she says.