Jacksonville Knight and Chiropractor Aligns Passions with Profession

By the time Dr. Vicki Zifteh ’17 was ready for college, she wanted to follow her two older sisters who had gone to the University of Florida. However, being the youngest of three girls, her loving father was not keen on sending her to a new city alone, as her sisters had gone together and long since graduated. At first, Zifteh honored her father’s wishes. She enrolled at nearby Jacksonville University but did not find it to her liking. One of her sisters was living and working in Orlando at the time and suggested she look into UCF, and when she did, she fell in love.

“It was a whole new experience for me,” Zifteh recalls. “I went from a small private school close to home to this whole new world that shaped my entire future.”

While at UCF, Zifteh continued pursuing a degree in health sciences. She thought she would become a pharmacist and learned about the retail world of the profession while working as a cashier at a national chain. Zifteh ascended through the ranks and became a certified technician and later assisted co-workers in doing the same. Later she worked behind the scenes in insurance for a time. It was important, she reasoned, to learn as much as possible about the field to prepare her for whatever path she chose. She also had a wide variety of interests that led her earning her degree in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on biotechnology and health sciences – and a minor in religious studies.

After graduation, Zifteh went back to Jacksonville, and began working at a pharmacy again, but she was still not convinced that it was what she wanted to do with her life. It would, however, present her with an opportunity to forge a new path.

“My boss asked me to go to a marketing event where there were a lot of healthcare professionals who, like me, were stationed at tables providing information to whomever needed it,” Zifteh says. “A lot of them seemed like they were there because they had to be.”

But as Zifteh was working at her own table, she noticed someone across the room. He was smiling at everyone and looked like he really wanted to be there, she says.

“There was a man in a wheelchair who was going from table to table,” Zifteh recalls. “Everyone was just giving him their pamphlets, but this tall gentleman I had noticed before knelt in front of him at eye level. I knew I had to find out what this man’s profession was, because he really cared about every person that he met.”

The caring man was a chiropractor, Zifteh noticed, and not knowing much about the chiropractic profession, she jokingly began a conversation with him by asking if he was giving away free massages. She took his card and didn’t think much of it until she had some back pain a few weeks later.

“It completely changed my life,” Zifteh recalls. “I went to his office on a Saturday – who likes their job enough to work on a Saturday, right?”

Zifteh saw that the office was hosting a workout class, and everyone seemed happy and excited. It was a completely different experience from her day-to-day work, where she saw that medicine saved lives, but did little in teaching people how to improve their quality of life. She always knew there was a better way to educate people about their health and healthy habits, but she had never known what it was – until that Saturday.

She became his patient, and after a while, told him that she, too, wanted to become a chiropractor. Zifteh had noticed such a profound change in her own personal health and well-being that she wanted to teach others that chiropractic is not just about neck and back pain, but improving health from the inside-out.

Not so fast, he said. He understood her interest but suggested that she work with him in the clinic before making any “rash decisions.”

two people at graduation ceremony
Dr. Zifteh at her graduation ceremony from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

“Working with him and seeing the ways that he helped his patients heal just fueled my passion even more,” Zifteh says. As a graduate student at Palmer College of Chiropractic, she became involved in different clubs, and even started a club to connect students with chiropractors for mentorship. She was awarded the Virgil V. Strang Philosophy Award for her contribution to the philosophy, passion, logic, and reasoning of the practice of chiropractic.

“I think I was a late bloomer,” Zifteh says. “I wasn’t as involved at UCF as I wanted to be, and I guess I was making up for lost time. I wanted to get as entrenched in the program as I could.”


Zifteh learned quickly that helping her smallest patients brought her the biggest joy.

Zifteh also began to develop a new vision for her future practice; she thought that she wanted to focus on geriatric care, because that population is what she had been familiar with when she was working in the pharmacy setting. But when she toured the student clinic with her mother, they visited the pediatric floor.

“My mom was convinced that pediatrics was going to be my thing, and I said no way,” Zifteh recalls. But watching the student clinicians with their young patients planted a seed. She later became involved with the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association and is now Certified by the Academy Council on Chiropractic Pediatrics and has a passion for helping children with learning, behavioral, and socialization challenges.

Zifteh and her business partner own Apex Chiropractic in Neptune Beach, where their primary focus is related to structural deviations in the spine and nervous system.

“Our practice is centered around families, and mostly pediatric patients,” Zifteh says.

Zifteh had kept up with UCF through email newsletters, and she was always interested in becoming more involved. When an email came through inviting her to serve on the council of the Jacksonville Alumni Community, she indicated that even though she wasn’t that involved as a student, she wanted to make up for lost time. She never thought that she would be selected.

“I got a call from the community chair,” Zifteh says. “And she told me that they were interested in having me serve as the National Networking Knight lead!”

Zifteh started going to the watch parties around the Jacksonville area, meeting many other Knights in the process.

“And then we started planning NNK, and it was so much fun,” Zifteh says. “The alumni community in Jacksonville has been phenomenal. I am so happy to have the opportunity to connect with my fellow Knights.”

Zifteh says there was a time commitment involved with planning the NNK event, but it didn’t feel like a burden to her at all.

“I love connecting with people, and sometimes it’s hard because I have a small child at home, but it was really a joy to become more involved. The time just flew by.”

What Zifteh wants other Knights to know is that it’s never too late to get involved with UCF, or to change your career path because you found something else that fuels your passion.

“When I wanted to make a change after graduation, it was really scary,” Zifteh says. “I was a little bit older and felt that maybe I should have been further along with my career, not starting something totally new. What I’ve learned is that everyone’s timeline is different.”

For Zifteh, that change in timeline included bringing her daughter to work so that she could watch her mother live out her dream by following her passion. It also includes exploring parts of Jacksonville through her daughter’s eyes. Zifteh and a few other professionals are now in the planning stages of creating a children’s museum, another new experience for which Zifteh says UCF prepared her.

professional head shot“When I was at UCF, I didn’t know that I was going to be a chiropractor or that I would be helping to build a children’s museum for my hometown to enjoy for generations to come,” Zifteh says. “But all my experiences there prepared me for any course correction or major change that would come later, and I am so grateful to UCF for giving me that foundation.”

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