Enter to win raffle prizes while we celebrate A Step To Health's 20th anniversary under Dr. Jena Friedel's ownership, by subscribing to our newsletter and attending movement classes at The Studio!
More about Dr. Jena's journey throughout her career:
While I know I have not had the pleasure to meet each of you in person, I want to THANK YOU for trusting us at ASTH and The Studio! From those that do know me, I was asked to tell my own personal professional journey. I would like to start that out by saying THANK YOU to all of the practitioners, instructors and office assistants that have at one time been and those that currently are a team member of ASTH. Truly, the dream of owning an independent integrative health care center has come to fruition more than I ever expected, and only with the loyalty and trust of those that stood with me has this been possible.
Next, I specifically want to say THANK YOU to my patients! I recall my first five patients and they are still with me today. That level of confidence in my care humbles me more than you know. It is through patients that accepted my philosophies regarding their health, chiropractic care, and teamwork, that I credit my 20 years of success!
As mentioned, I grew up in small-town Nebraska, rodeo’d some, was a year-round athlete, and have been going to a chiropractor since I was 6 years old. I went to University of Nebraska-Lincoln (Go Huskers!) my freshman year of college, interested in business, yet something drew me to health and healing too. Thinking it would be awesome to be an ER doctor, I did a follow and immediately ruled that out. I have all the respect for ER physicians. The hours are brutal. I started thinking about how else I could help people. From high school I was originally offered to play softball at a D-2 college but just had to go to the U. Once I realized the big campus wasn’t for me, I talked to the D-2 softball coach and counselor and realized that chiropractic really had my interests. I transferred to the college under a pre-med degree, played D-2 collegiate softball, then upon receiving early acceptance into doctorate school, attended Northwestern Health Sciences University in Bloomington, MN. My sister, two years younger than me, went to college in South Carolina. Whenever I visited the southeast, I loved the weather. That is what landed me in Huntersville, NC, for my final internship. Graduating in April 2002 with my doctorate of chiropractic, found me mentally exhausted. I felt I needed some downtime so I worked for a chiropractor out of Cornelius, NC, as her front office assistant. This was quite possibly the smartest decision I had ever made. Not only did it give me a chance to do a little more rodeo’n, as that chiropractor barrel races, it allowed me to see how the insurance and political realm of North Carolina chiropractic was before I dipped my feet into getting a license in North Carolina.
I am not quite sure anymore how I happened upon A Step To Health as a potential option for my career starter. I was looking to buy or start my own private practice in a small town in North Carolina. I wasn’t even sure I wanted an integrative health care center in the beginning. However, when I saw this available, it immediately was “the one”! The Hillsborough Chamber of Commerce was so welcoming to me. I would attend events as Jena, not Dr. Jena. It was important to me that the public got to know me vs the stigma of being a new doctor in town. I actually worked as a server and bartender at a restaurant in the beginning of my career as I wanted all the money from the practice to go back into the practice. I had worked in the restaurant business since my freshman year of college and knew I could support my living expenses that way if I pushed myself to do so. I also started volunteering for
Orange County Rescue Squad and achieved getting my EMT, a side step to my ER doctor dream ;) I worked for Orange County EMS for several years, volunteered for the Orange County Rescue Squad and, once I moved into Orange County, joined Orange Rural Fire Dept. My father was a volunteer firefighter for over 30 years. I spent a lot of time with him at the fire station so it always interested me to help out that way. I can say that I do not think I knew one could be a firefighter as a career until I was an adult. Had I known, I may be on a very different journey. Thankfully that was not the case!
As many times a story has been told, I met my husband, Tim Ransom, in March 2007, a career firefighter. We married in September 2008. By that point we had already purchased land and were building our home, moving into it in December, 2008. My husband decided to make the switch from Durham Fire Dept. to Charlotte Fire Dept. in 2009. I told him this was his one chance for us to relocate. If I was going to start over, now was it. He stated he loves our home, loves the community, loves the practice that I built, can see how much joy and passion I had in life, he stated he would be willing to commute. Alright! Having gone through a 6-month academy in 2009/2010, only seeing each other on the weekends, he worked his way up the ranks and is now a Captain in the Charlotte Fire Dept. Since graduating academy he has made the 2-hour commute before and after his 24-hour shifts and has only complained once during a snowstorm as snow plows were blocking the interstate.
Being a part of watching him chase his desire to switch departments lit something in me to seek out being a career firefighter. In 2011, I applied for and was hired as a Greensboro firefighter. Already having my FF I & II, HazMat, EMT, through the various Orange County organizations I volunteered with, I was accepted into an accelerated firefighter academy of only 11 weeks. It was grueling, M-F, seeing patients on the weekends, but it was so much fun! I did the dual career for three years. It was quite intense and as my practice grew and my husband and I saw less and less of each other, I knew three years was enough. In June 2014 I resigned. I get asked if I miss it … I do not but I also have absolutely no regrets having done it!
Fast forward to October 2016, I had a major traumatic injury to my right ankle. Vacationing with my best friend from Nebraska on her honeymoon in Jamaica, I was climbing down the netting on a catamaran and misstepped with my left foot. My body fell downwards, ended up hanging upside down by my right ankle, foot not having moved, shearing the joint severely, fracturing my fibula in two places, and shredding the deltoid ligament in my arch. Took a trip to the Jamaican hospital to have it casted. I reached out to an orthopedic acquaintance who stated it would be fine to wait a few days before coming back to NC and having it further evaluated as long as I felt it was set properly. So we stayed a few more days ensuring I could be back by Friday to meet with the ortho. Two weeks later I was undergoing reconstructive ankle surgery and nine months after that, a second surgery to remove the hardware.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t able to work for a few weeks. Once I did start seeing patients again, it wasn’t the foot in a cast that slowed me down. It was the fatigue from the anesthesia limiting me like I have never been limited before. But I stuck it out, ensuring to get enough rest, do my physical therapy, and mentally accept the process (quite possibly the most difficult part for this workaholic that is so passionate about her practice) and here we are today! So many of you, my patients, stuck by my side during that time just as you continue to do now. I cannot believe that was nearly 7 years ago.
Spring of 2017 brought some breath-catching news … the suite we were renting for ASTH, had been in for over 13 years, was not offering us a lease renewal. Very exciting for the Montessori school as they had moved in and expanded quickly. Very scary for me! My husband and brother, three years older and a General in the Air Force, had been talking to me about purchasing a building for ASTH. I had no interest in this, and was quite comfortable at 109 Millstone Drive, until it was no longer an option. My husband and I started looking around. Did I want to downsize? Expand? I am certain it was a little scary for the practitioners with ASTH at that time too as they would be losing their office spaces as well. We had narrowed it down to two buildings. I couldn’t wrap my brain around expanding so much to fill an entire building as 410 Millstone Drive.
But Tim and I put our offer in and it was accepted. Having built our house pretty much on our own, and having a firefighter husband, jack of all trades ;) we actually gutted and rebuilt the interior of the building.The downstairs was four large suites and upstairs was unfinished. We designed an office to suit ASTH’s needs, started tearing down the walls, and with the assistance of family and friends (especially given I was still in a boot in the beginning), we completed what you see now for the move in November 2017. If you can believe it, we even moved the stairwell. And we added a balanced movement studio, so exciting!
Those that know me know I cannot go without mentioning my family. I have a very supportive family. My husband is my #1 supporter. My dad is one of my best friends, my husband’s, too, as dad and him share many similar likes. My mom pushed me to be the driven person I am today. My brother and his family are military and so I only occasionally have been able to see them, especially the past five years with him assigned to the Pacific, but it has been great to keep up with them via photos and texting. I have been so very fortunate that my sister has lived ~3-6 hours from me for the better part of my career. My nephew was born just shortly before I met my husband, and my niece in 2012. They are kids we love, and love to give back, if you know what I mean ;) In 2020 they moved to Florida, ~10 hours away but we still find time to visit them regularly.
I believe that is my story! Thank you for asking me to write it! As I mentioned, I have a very supportive family, and I consider ASTH family, too. Thank you to all of you for your part in my journey! Continue to stay healthy and positive in body, mind and energy! ~Dr. Jena