The Ever-present Lure of the North, and an Unfailing Desire to Help Bring Joy to this Earth: Juneau Alaska Chiropractor.

Written by Dr. Derek Larsen DC

Last Updated on February 15, 2024

This week I wanted to tell part of my story, I seem to be asked two questions quite a bit as I meet people in Juneau. The first question is “Why did you decide to become a chiropractor?” and the second is “Why did you decide to become a chiropractor in Juneau AK?” I typically give a short answer to each of those questions for time’s sake. My usual response is that I love to help people and I love Juneau Alaska. However there is a much longer answer to this question that I’d like to dive into today. 


After high school I knew I wanted to go to college to study biology but I didn’t know what I would end up doing with that degree. I was also lucky enough to work a wide variety of trade jobs that taught me many skill sets and a good work ethic. The more trades I worked, however, the more I realized I wanted to continue my education in order to make a living. I continued working through college trying to figure out what I would do, with time and a few events that altered the course of my life I finally ended up as a chiropractor in Juneau, AK

Figuring out what I love most

After my first year of college I decided that I would spend the next two years as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was called to serve in Costa Rica and shipped out on November 4th 2011. My time there was well spent, I learned how to love people unconditionally and I began to understand what I loved most about this life.  After living and serving in Costa Rica for 2 years I received some excellent advice, “Figure out what you love to do most, then figure out how to get paid to do it.” I took that advice to heart and went back to college to finish up. While in college I worked a slough of jobs that capitalized on what I learned growing up on a farm. I welded, framed houses, landscaped, drove commercially, wildland firefighting and I even transported porta potties for a while. All these jobs reminded me that I had to figure out what I loved most so I could get paid to do that. One day with that thought in mind I sat down with the intention to figure it out. Looking back at my life, I recognized that I was happiest when I was helping others become happier individuals. Once I grasped that the next part was figuring out how I could get paid to do that. At this point in my life chiropractic had never even crossed my mind. 

Alaska bound 

Growing up I heard stories of Alaska, met people who had traveled there and read and watched documentaries on the topic. I always figured I would make it up there but it was always a distant thought. One day my brother called me and told me he was headed to Southeast Alaska, near Juneau for the summer to work at a fishing lodge. I told him to work hard so he could refer me to the job. He did and I ended up at the same lodge he worked at the following summer as a deckhand. I worked at that lodge for the following 4 summers because I loved fishing in Alaska. This job also gave me a taste of helping other people be happier on a larger scale than what I was used to. I eventually became the head guide and had the opportunity to teach thousands of people how to improve their fishing, which improved catching, and therefore created happier fishermen. I spent my summers in and around the Juneau AK area as I slowly checked off the boxes to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in biology during the winters. 

Healer Heal thyself 

As graduation neared I still had no idea how I was going to capitalize on what I loved most, the fishing industry was a summer job and I wanted a career. Working a part time job during the winter I was tasked with moving about 10 large picnic tables. My coworker and I decided it would be a good idea to stack them on a trailer to make a single trip. As we were stacking them I leaned back a little too far. I felt a shift along with some immediate pain in my low back. As my father taught me I walked it off and didn’t think much of it. A week or two later I was still in pain. I went to the hospital, they shot an x-ray of my low back and concluded there was nothing wrong with the films and that I should go to physical therapy. I agreed and started a course of physical therapy. After 3 months of physical therapy I was doing better and so I shipped up to Nome Alaska on a research trip with some colleges in my undergraduate biology department. Halfway through my week-long stay I tripped slightly on some tundra and my back pain was back, worse than when it had started 3 months prior. The next day I couldn’t walk without extreme pain, nor could I stand up straight. That day was a Thursday, and the following Sunday I was supposed to fly into Juneau Alaska to start another season working as a deckhand and I could hardly walk. 

The miracle patient 

I flew from Nome Alaska to California where my parents picked me up late Friday night. They told me that they were going to bring me to a chiropractor the next day. Luckily we called a few chiropractors in our home town and one of them could take me in on Saturday. We headed over, and I received my first adjustment. On Sunday, I was sore, but I was back on a plane headed for Juneau AK. The next couple days at the fishing lodge I was careful, I babied my back so I didn’t reinjure myself but I felt my body healing. By the end of the summer I was back to throwing 50 lb. boxes of frozen fish into stacks and hauling out massive halibut without an issue. I couldn’t believe  the difference I experienced after one adjustment. That summer I started to consider becoming a chiropractor.

Decision was made 

I finally made the decision to go to chiropractic college about 3 months before undergraduate graduation. Luckily I had studied hard so I was accepted quickly and planned to start after one more season fishing in the Juneau Alaska area. 

The lure of the north is real, Juneau Alaska Chiropractor 

During chiropractic college I learned that I could work wherever I wanted. I just needed to figure out where I wanted to be. After living in Alaska for 4 summers the lure of the north had a strong hold on me but I wasn’t sure if I would like the winters so I checked out some of the less wild and rugged states but Alaska had me in her trance and I was always bound to head back up I just didn’t know. I eventually came to the conclusion that I needed to follow my dream and head back to Alaska to etch out a space for myself. I decided I would be the next chiropractor in Juneau, Alaska. After a lot of hard work and battling of naysayers who thought I wouldn’t survive I made it. I am now a chiropractor in Juneau Alaska and I love it. I love serving the community and giving back to it in a way I never would have if I didn’t decide to move here. Plus you can’t beat the views or the fishing. Juneau is my home. 

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