What You Need to Know About Your Chiropractor
By Dr. Molly Casey
If you’re reading this space with any regularity, you already appreciate the value of chiropractic care. If you’ve ever wondered about your doctor -- or maybe if you’ve been inspired by chiropractic’s impact on your own health and you want to pursue such a career -- you may be interested in looking closer to what it takes to become such a life-changer.
So … how does one become a chiropractor? What does it take to become one? Where can you go to school and how are doctors licensed? How do I know they are qualified? These are all great questions.
Below is an outline of what it has taken for your chiropractor to become the doctor they are.
Prior to getting into chiropractic school, the applicant must complete minimally 90 credit hours of undergraduate studies at a college. Of those hours, 24 must be basic science courses such as anatomy and physiology, organic chemistry, physics, biochemistry and so forth. These classes must also have a lab with them.
Some chiropractic colleges require a full bachelor’s degree along with the completion of the basic science requirements, and most require a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average. The application and acceptance process can be helped by soft skills, such as communication skills and ability to interact with others.
There are 19 chiropractic colleges in the United States. They are either four classic academic years from August through May and run on quarters, or they run on trimesters full year-round and are completed in three full calendar years. During this time in school, the first two years are equivalent to the same basic sciences one would take in medical school. This includes anatomy and physiology with a full yearlong cadaver dissection lab, pathology and microbiology, neurology and so on. Science-wise, chiropractors study more X-ray/radiology, biochemistry, and anatomy/physiology than medical students do. Although chiropractic students do take pharmacology class, medical students study this in far greater depth because they utilize and prescribe medications whereas chiropractors do not.
Chiropractic students start immediately studying the history of chiropractic and the art and philosophy of its practice. Students also start hands-on chiropractic adjusting classes in the first semester of school so that by the time they finish, the amount of hands-on time is as extensive as possible. The students first observe in clinical settings seeing patients; as time progresses, they are seeing patients within school and outsourced clinics under the supervision of licensed doctors of chiropractic. Students are required to perform a certain number of patient exams, visits and evaluations, X-rays, as well as adjustments before being eligible for chiropractic licensure exams and graduation.
There are four sets of national boards that all students must take and pass to be eligible for a license to practice chiropractic. In order to graduate from school, the student must pass parts one through three. The fourth part must be passed only if the student wants to apply for a state licensure and practice in any of the 50 states. There is also a physiotherapy exam.
Having passed all four of these national boards, the graduate is then eligible to apply for a license to practice in any of the states. Most states require the applicant to take an ethics or jurisprudence exam to show they are of good moral standing and understand the laws of the state they are applying to practice in. Most states also require yearly that the licensed chiropractor take continuing education courses that will support the doctor throughout their career in furthering their education.
Your doctor of chiropractic is well schooled and has a long history of education. They have worked long and hard with extensive study on the nervous system as the master communication system and the spine’s role in your level of optimal health.
It’s a common misconception that chiropractors aren’t doctors, but it’s clear that they are. Know you are in good hands with well-educated professionals as you look to improve your health through regular chiropractic care. And know that pursuing your own chiropractic career will help you use your own hands for the benefit of others.
The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this page are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this post is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics, including but not limited to the benefits of chiropractic care, exercise and nutrition. It is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your chiropractor, physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this page.