My name is Dr. Kimberly Rodriguez and I’m a first-generation, Guatemalan-American born in Washington D.C. I’m a licensed DC (Doctor of Chiropractic) that focuses on pediatric, prenatal, and family care. I’m also the founder of a running community called Latinas Running. Growing up, I never saw doctors that looked like me or who didn’t have a prejudgment about my lifestyle because of the number on a weight scale. It wasn’t until I found a chiropractor, who was the first doctor to see beyond my size, and educated me about the incredible power my body has to heal on its own, when in proper alignment.
From white coat dreams to chiropractic choosing me
I always pictured myself in a white coat, but never thought my dream would change from wanting to become a pediatrician or a pediatric physical therapist, to a pediatric chiropractor. I was in the process of submitting my physical therapy school applications at Virginia Commonwealth University, when I met a chiropractor on campus. They educated me about the true meaning behind chiropractic. At that time, I didn’t even know chiropractors had doctorate degrees and I was very uneducated about their profession. After that talk, I started shadowing at Chester Family Chiropractic Center and my life changed for the better. I had never seen doctors be so gentle, loving, and compassionate with their patients. I started shadowing every week after school and immediately fell in love with their approach and mindset to health care. The doctors at the center also became my coaches and mentors in my own health journey. I saw my body heal and improve in so many ways. Training for my first half-marathon and receiving regular chiropractic care is what saved me from surgery, after falling rock bottom in my health that year.
Now I take pride in being one of the few Latinas who is a chiropractor. In the Latinx community, they constantly confuse us with sobaderos. The lack of knowledge and judgment to what we actually do is something we constantly get from our community and other healthcare professionals. My passion is to uplift my community through running and chiropractic, but also educate how chiropractors are also doctors who are clinically trained to help prevent, diagnose, and treat patients whose health problems are associated with the body's muscular, nervous, and skeletal system.
Failure is the backbone to my success
I grew up in a strict household and was always taught the value of gratitude, prioritizing responsibilities, and working hard towards my goals. Some people think that marking down Hispanic/Latino/Latina on a college application can give you an advantage when it comes to applying for colleges, but that isn’t the case. I graduated from a very competitive, white dominated high school, which had a surplus of students with high GPAs and superstar athletes. It’s known as one of the best high schools in the county. I didn’t receive a scholarship I worked so hard for, even though I had a 3.8 GPA, was a part of three national honor societies, was a devoted band student, and a full-time athlete. Not to mention, I was one out of the four Latinas that graduated that year from my entire class. It stings when other doctors who have that financial source, judge those who graduate with large student loan debts. Not all of us are able to receive that, even with high grades and hard work. Being a first-gen doctora, I always sacrificed my sleep just to accomplish my goals, sacrificed seeing my family, missed out on very important occasions, and I had to navigate life as a full-time student, while also being on “hustle” mode and working two jobs.
My journey is far from linear, and today I can proudly say that all those hardships and not quitting when experiencing my first F’s in some of my hardest science classes, is what ultimately became my driving source in all I do today. There was a point in chiropractic school, when I would really look around me and felt like I was constantly behind. I really struggled with my radiology courses, not because of the subject, but because I developed severe test anxiety when my lab grade would depend on two 20 question lab exams with a short time frame to answer. There was a point when I felt I wasn’t going to make it, because I struggled to pass some of those courses. I would sit with my professor each week and talk about radiology, and thanks to him I discovered therapy. I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and depression. He never questioned my knowledge and knew how hard I was working in his class. As I reflect back now, all those setbacks are what gave me the strength to have the courage to open my own practice without even associating first. I graduated December 2019 and had to deal with having to take multiple board exams during the pandemic. I couldn’t find an office that matched my values, and was even offered a salary of 40k as a doctor. I went from all of that, to now opening my own business and practice this summer. Although I always felt behind amongst my colleagues, now I made one of my dreams a reality. Once I started to own my journey and not let the success of others influence how I viewed my success, all my goals and dreams just started to fall into place. My motto throughout grad school was always si se puede!
Having a body positive mindset is important to my style of practice and promoting that in my running community
Fatphobia and medical fatphobia is a real thing. Medical fatphobia kills, because so many people have been misdiagnosed, since a lot of doctors' first solution to overweight patients' health issues is, “lose the weight and everything will be solved.” I personally was misdiagnosed a few times, before discovering I had polycystic ovarian syndrome. Not to mention that when I told my provider that I was eating healthy and working out, I was made to feel like I was lying. I never felt acknowledged, respected, or heard.
In the fitness industry, there is a lack of representation of all bodies working out, bodies of all colors, shapes, and sizes. As running became a part of who I am, I hardly saw women who looked like me when picking up my race packet. I just saw very slim, white women in running magazines. Mirna Valerio was the first woman in the running world who inspired me to own my running journey beyond my size. I finally saw someone famous who was shattering stereotypes, and who inspired me in this industry. In 2019, I decided to create Latinas Running to empower, promote diversity, and body positivity for runners, especially Latinas.My mission is to continue to show up as myself unapologetically in this world, inspire with my authenticity, and uplift people with running and chiropractic. It has not been an easy journey and sometimes I feel discouraged when people judge and underestimate my profession and as an athlete because of how I look. But whenever I stumble upon those emotional roadblocks, I look back and smile at all of my accomplishments and the courage I built up to pursue my dreams. I hope to continue my journey leading with passion, gratitude, persistence, and self-love. Here’s to all future Latinx doctors. May we always stand up for ourselves and our gente! Si se puede!