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Dynamic Chiropractic – August 16, 2004, Vol. 22, Issue 17

The Road to Success: Terry Yochum, DC, DACBR

By Reed Phillips, DC, PhD
California University of Health Sciences Success is neither easy to define, nor is one definition likely to satisfy all queries. My favorite definition is:

Conduct that creates lasting joy in your life and others; and is measured by the number of people whose lives you change for the better.
- Sandra Phillips

By this definition, success is not a destination, but a journey. The life of Terry R. Yochum, DC, DACBR, is a journey that bumps into this definition frequently.

As a young kid on the south side of St. Louis, he thought lasting joy could be found in throwing a baseball, and set his goal to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals. He never achieved this goal in its fullest sense, because according to him, "I threw with the wrong arm [his right], always hoping I would have been left-handed." He never lost his love for baseball, however.

His father, Kenneth E. Yochum, DC, had a different plan for lasting joy in his life and his son's life. This plan included bringing the blessings of chiropractic care into the lives of their patients. Young Terry traded in pitching baseballs and resolved to attend chiropractic college in Missouri. Dr. Ken said, "If you want my support to get through school, you are going to attend National College in Chicago."

Terry agreed to go to National to meet and talk to one person. He entered the office of Dr. Joseph Janse while his father wandered about campus. Dr. Ken knew what was going to happen. On the trip home, after agreeing to attend National, Terry asked his father, "Who was that man?"

The time at National passed quickly, and Terry did well at throwing the baseball for local semipro teams, as well as his school work, graduating cum laude as president of his class in May 1972. The competitive edge bred on the baseball diamonds of south St. Louis never subsided in Chicago. In fact, competitiveness was the trademark of this young chiropractic aspirant.

While Dr. Ken had his designs on Terry returning to St. Louis to practice with him, others at National recognized his potential and began to lay their own career plans for his future. Radiology was one of the more challenging courses taught at National by Drs. James Winterstein (current president of National) and Don Tomkins. Young bucks in their own right, they delighted in challenging this young and aggressive student at the view box. Terry was hooked.

Soon, Dr. Joseph Howe appeared at National and the first on-campus, full-time, postgraduate residency program came into full swing. Terry, in typical fashion, dove in with both feet, determined to be the best resident in the program. At the same time, he managed to pitch in the local semipro league for the Naperville Cardinals.

The residency program was grueling. Dr. Howe was able to obtain a radiology teaching file from the University of California at San Francisco, which contained 10,000 documented cases with a description of radiographic findings and diagnoses. It was at this point that the now Dr. Terry Yochum concluded that he needed to develop his own teaching file. Countless hours were spent photographing these cases and others in the department. It was a day of great excitement when he learned about Kodak RP film that could be run through the automatic processor at the college and would produce black-and-white slides, compared to the expensive Kodak Ectachrome film that required expensive outside processing and produced X-ray slides with a blue hue. The hunger for more cases expanded, for Dr. Yochum sensed he would have a teaching career of some sort.

At the conclusion of the radiology residency program, one needed to pass the exam offered by the American Chiropractic Board of Radiology to achieve a Diplomate of the American Chiropractic College of Radiology (DACBR). Being the early product of a fledgling full-time residency program, Dr. Yochum was convinced he was going to pass the exam. The board, made up of diplomates from the 300-hour weekend postgraduate program, was of the persuasion that full-time residents were overly cocky and needed to be taught some humility. Dr. Yochum failed one exam out of 16 and had to return the next year to repeat what he had previously (supposedly) failed.

In retrospect, this was a blessing in disguise, for it gave Dr. Yochum an opportunity to put his shoulder to the wheel for a year in his father's office in St. Louis and fulfill Dr. Ken's dream of bringing lasting happiness to his patients. Terry also served as the chair of the radiology department at Logan College. This time in St. Louis also offered an opportunity to reignite old baseball relations and get back on the mound again at Heine Meine Field.

One year later, Dr. Terry Yochum passed the board exam and knew his destiny was teaching radiology. He accepted an invitation to assist Dr. Andy Kleyhans at the International College of Chiropractic in Melbourne, Australia (Jan. 1978). He followed the model at National College and established the department of radiology and a full-time residency program. It was this residency program that produced Dr. Lindsay Rowe (his co-author) and four other radiology residents, Drs. Gary Guebert, Jeffrey Thompson, Michael Montileone and Tom Molyneux. Terry was also instrumental in the establishment of chiropractic as a legitimate profession in Australia.

His hunger for new case material was never satiated, and soon, with camera in hand and a resident in tow, he dug into the pathological files (with permission) of every radiology department in the greater Melbourne area. It was through this relentless quest for teaching material that he became acquainted with medical radiologist Dr. Brian Hartley, another contributor of many cases to his textbook and the person to whom Terry dedicated his 1st edition. Dr. David Thomas, then head of the department of radiology of the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, was also a significant contributing author and graciously shared his voluminous pathology files with Dr. Yochum.

Perhaps because they didn't play baseball in Australia, but certainly because Dr. Ken and wife wanted their three grandchildren closer to home, Terry began planning a return to the United States. Thanks to Dr. Joseph Howe, Terry linked up with Dr. John Beckman at the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic (LACC). Together, they generated a postgraduate program on the "Seven Radiological Wonders of the Spine." It was an instant success for both Dr. Yochum and the college.

At the invitation of a friend and classmate from National, Dr. Donald Freuden, Dr. Yochum decided to move his family to Denver. Being on the national lecture circuit and developing a radiological reading service for doctors all over the United States, Denver was central and provided easy travel to almost anywhere. It was in the later years in Melbourne that he received an invitation from Ms. Toni Tracy, vice president of Williams and Wilkins Publishing House in Baltimore, to consider writing a radiology text for chiropractic.

At a time when personal computers were found at the fingertips of only those very adept at new technology (which Dr. Yochum was not and still is not), writing a new textbook was a monumental effort. The creation of the original edition of Essentials of Skeletal Radiology took six years to complete. Ten thousand handwritten legal-sized pages transformed into 5,000 computer pages. It took one year just to proofread and one secretary working 50 hours a week for four-and-a-half years to type, and filled 50 computer disks.

Writing this textbook provided vivid insight into the heart and soul of Dr. Terry Yochum. His baseball competitiveness, coupled with his love for teaching radiology, resulted not in just another book on radiology, but a textbook on skeletal radiology that has become the mainstay for teaching radiology in chiropractic educational institutions around the world for nearly two decades. While most medical texts sell less than 5,000 copies in a lifetime, Essentials sold out the first printing of 5,000 copies in three weeks - a record yet to be surpassed by any book published by now Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. It was printed six more times in the first year. All told, the 1st edition sold more than 45,000 copies and the 2nd edition has sold over 30,000 copies, making this one of the most widely sold textbooks ever to be published in chiropractic (and also in medicine).

Coupled with the success of his book sales, Dr. Yochum expanded his engagements in postgraduate lecturing. His drive to be the best took him to a level of exposure and travel that far exceeded any other lecturer. He crossed professional lines and hitched his wagon to a new technology called magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). This new technology was ideal for visualizing disc pathology in the spine and a boon to chiropractic practice, yet doctors of chiropractic had little knowledge and no access to this new procedure. Dr. Yochum bridged the gap by convincing MRI centers that doctors of chiropractic needed access to MRI technology, but were ignorant of its benefits. As a result of his tenacity, Medical Resources Incorporated began to employ the name and expertise of Dr. Yochum and hosted free seminars to practicing doctors of chiropractic throughout the nation. Almost single-handedly, Dr. Yochum opened yet another door of opportunity for his chiropractic colleagues.

Recognized as an outstanding teacher, Dr. Yochum was invited to lecture at the University of Colorado's School of Medicine, Department of Radiology. Dr. Michael Manco-Johnson put his reputation on the line and lobbied for Dr. Yochum to be appointed to a position on the staff at the medical school, teaching medical radiology residents skeletal radiology. The Yochum edge cut through the medical prejudices, and in his 13 years of teaching, the students have elected him "Outstanding Teacher of the Year" eight times.

This drive to be the best has carried Dr. Yochum into many avenues. He has used his energies and talents to help students and residents in chiropractic and medicine. He has helped support all of the educational programs within the chiropractic profession. He has worked to support the American Chiropractic College of Radiology by serving on the board of examiners for seven years, and then finding ways to increase its revenue stream through its annual workshop. He has given unselfishly to many that we never hear about. It is easy to get the impression that Dr. Yochum is all about making money and driving nice cars, because that is what one can readily see. What is not seen is his generosity toward those in need by one who is more concerned about the needs of a friend than money.

Did Dr. Yochum ever not succeed at anything he set his mind to accomplish? I don't think so! Follow him on what some might consider a vacation when he attends the Cardinals' spring training and plays in what is known as a "fantasy league." He suits up in a real Cardinals uniform, plays with many of the greats from the early years of the Cardinals organization, has a team picture and his own personal baseball trading card printed. Even though he is still throwing right-handed, he throws more strikes than balls to some of the world's greatest baseball players, including Lou Brock, Tommy Herr, Ken Reitz and others. He set his mind, early in his youth, to become one of the world's greatest at whatever he does - and he has set an example worthy of emulation in many ways.

Reed Phillips, DC, PhD
President, Southern California University of Health Sciences
Whittier, California

Click here for previous articles by Reed Phillips, DC, PhD.

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