Lifelong learner finds fit as chiropractor and teacher

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By Sarah Berkshire

Getting to know Michael Owsley


Family: Wife, Kelly; stepdaughter, Isabella, 9; and son, Nolan, 2

Down time: He and his wife enjoy plays and discovering new restaurants. He enjoys books and currently is reading “Red Country,” by Joe Abercrombie. On television, his favorite shows include “Mad Men,” “How I Met Your Mother,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Voice” and “The Sing-Off.”

Ice breakers: To start a conversation with Owsley, mention University of Kentucky basketball, his children or chiropractic.

Abroad: Owsley spent two weeks in India while in chiropractic school. Students spent one week in a clinic where they could make about 50 of the 250 adjustments required for graduation.


Standing before about 20 anatomy and physiology students, Dr. Michael Owsley was at home as he presented a lecture on the body’s respiratory system at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College last week.

That should be a surprise considering that, as a child, the campus was like a second home to Owsley. His mother, Diane Owsley, now interim provost at the school, taught psychology and sociology in the mid ‘70s and Michael was a frequent visitor at the school. He remembers drawing dinosaurs on the chalk boards and playing pell-mell on the lawn near the science building.

His father taught English in Hardin County Schools, so he spent time in that environment, too.

Perhaps it was his parents influence, but Owsley, 35, has chained himself to learning. It’s become a theme in his life, whether he’s learning about a new patient at his chiropractic practice or teaching college students.

Learning is what the Elizabethtown resident finds most appealing about his profession. Someone recently asked his advice about entering the medical field and he told them it all depended on why they wanted to do it.

It’s noble to want to help people but the hurtful reality is you can’t help everyone. And if money is the motivation, know there is no amount of money to make up for what the field demands, he said. But a passion for learning is what makes a happy career in medicine.

“There are always more questions and more answers out there,” he said.

It’s gaining knowledge and sharing knowledge that keeps Owsley going, he said.

After graduating from Murray State University and Palmer College of Chiropractic in Iowa, Owsley, who grew up in the Cecilia area, returned to Hardin County. After a couple years as a chiropractor in another area practice, he decided to see if he could run his own practice.

Seven years ago, he opened Owsley Family Chiropractic in Elizabethtown.

A year later, he started teaching part-time at ECTC.

“I opened my practice and gave myself a year to make sure the bank didn’t shut me down and then I contacted the department chair,” he said. “I always knew if I could set my schedule, it would be something I’d love to do part-time.”

His wife, Kelly Owsley, agreed continuing to learn is important to her husband.

“Nothing is ever stale in his life. He always has to be striving for something else,” she said.

In addition to serving patients and students, Owsley serves the community as a Rotarian.

“I think it’s important to be involved in the community. I wanted a chance to be active and be plugged into the community,” he said.

He was the 2011-12 president of the Elizabethtown Rotary Club and is now in the second year of a three-year appointment as an assistant governor, helping seven area Rotary clubs.

He’s worked on scholarships, public relations and membership in the Elizabethtown club. He has most enjoyed being involved with scholarships and the club’s recognition of notable students, he said, noting how impressed he is with so many area youth.

“Kids now are much more involved and civically aware than I ever was,” he said.

Fellow Rotarian Kelly Emerine describes Owsley as a strong leader who his fair, organized and dedicated.

“Our club accomplished and exceeded all of our fundraising and philanthropic efforts under his leadership,” she said in an email.

Looking ahead, Owsley has some plans.

“Professionally, I want to continue helping as many people as I can,” he said. “Personally, I like seeing where my kids are going.”

He has a 2-year-old son, Nolan, and a 9-year-old stepdaughter, Isabella, and how fast they grow and change amazes him.

“The one I used to swing around the living room and dance with,” he said of Isabella, “now she’s too big to do that.”

The future might hold a different kind of service for Owsley, too. He is considering if elected office is something he should pursue.

Elected office or not, he’ll add something to his list, his wife predicted.

“He’s very young. He has a lot of years ahead of him, so I’m anxious to see what else he accomplishes,” she said.

Sarah Berkshire can be reached at (270) 505-1745 or sberkshire@thenewsenterprise.com.