How to Become a Chiropractor

How to Become a Chiropractor

Chiropractors are often thought of as not being “real” doctors.

Patients will see medical doctors and get involved in complicated medical procedures that they could have avoided by seeing a chiropractor first. Chiropractors use non-invasive, safe measures to improve your symptoms as opposed to medications or surgery that could have dangerous side effects. In addition, seeing a chiropractor over time saves money that you would spend on medication or surgical and rehabilitation costs. That being said, finding a chiropractor who is experienced and well-trained is an important aspect of care. There are a number of qualifications that your chiropractor must have to practice, and it is important to inform yourself of those qualifications so that your selection process is most effective.

Education

Some qualifications vary by state, but in general, chiropractors need to complete a four-year undergraduate degree as a prerequisite before they begin their formal chiropractic education. In the four years of undergraduate study, students should complete science courses including biology, organic chemistry, physics, psychology, and other lab work. For chiropractic education, students must be accepted to an accredited chiropractic college. This involves four to five years of professional study as the standard. A good portion of time is spent in clinical training, where students get hands-on experience in chiropractic techniques.

In total, the curriculum of chiropractic study includes 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience. Students typically complete a minimum of a one-year clinical-based program dealing specifically with patient care. Once this is completed, the student can continue training, if he or she wants a more specific sub-specialty like sports injuries or occupational health, among others. Students need further training before they can become licensed in the specific field.

Licensing

After the educational aspect is finished and before practice can begin, doctors of chiropractic must pass national board examinations and become state-licensed. Some states have their own unique exam, but most use the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners’ three part, sometimes four part, exam to ensure that the doctor is ready to begin practicing. Even after a chiropractor begins practicing, continuing education is required to pass annual licensing exams. Contrary to popular belief, the training regimen of a doctor of chiropractic is similar to the training of medical doctor. The difference is mainly in the residency years that come after medical school for a medical doctor.

Outlook

Employment outlook for chiropractors is good, with the number of jobs expected to grow 15% until 2022, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. When looking for a job in the field, as many chiropractors are self-employed, it is important to find a location where you will get business from people seeking chiropractic needs. Evaluating the surrounding areas and determining how many chiropractors are needed will ensure that you get plenty of patients. It is also important to build relationships with local doctors in case you need to refer your parents to spine specialists or surgeons.

If you are interested in becoming a chiropractor, the earlier you start planning your educational path, the better. To learn more about the different programs offered around the country and the profession in general please visit the American Chiropractic Association.