Chiropractic can be a rewarding career but also an intense training process. From earning your undergraduate degree to gaining your doctorate, it takes years to become a chiropractor and to build a successful practice.
During this time, you will learn the intangibles of being a chiropractor – like empathy, compassion, and patience. You will also take discipline-specific courses and participate in clinical internships.
Many healthcare professionals enter the field to help people, and chiropractic can be excellent. Curiosity, determination, and empathy are all traits that can contribute to success in this career, which primarily deals with helping patients overcome pain, illness, or injury. That’s why chiropractic training is essential.
It’s a drug-free, noninvasive treatment that treats the musculoskeletal system – particularly the spine. The chiropractor manipulates the spine and joints to treat various musculoskeletal conditions, helping patients maintain optimal health and well-being.
Students in chiropractic programs receive a rigorous education in anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, x-ray, and orthopedics. Depending on the program, this education may take three to five years. To save time, some schools offer a 3+3 program where students can earn their bachelor’s degree in biology and seamlessly transition into a chiropractic doctorate program. This approach helps students graduate more quickly and reduces their student loan debt. In addition, some chiropractic programs offer extensive clinical internships that allow students to gain hands-on experience and start their careers sooner.
There are a variety of ways to become a chiropractor. Many aspiring chiropractic students first earn an undergraduate degree that supports their career ambitions, with coursework including math, science, and health-related subjects such as anatomy and physiology.
Next, they enroll in an accredited chiropractic college to earn a doctorate of chiropractic (DC) degree. This requires years of study and hands-on experience.
In addition to the required academic coursework, chiropractic students are trained in various practical skills, from spinal manipulations to ordering and interpreting X-rays. They must also pass four parts of the National Board Examinations to practice as a licensed chiropractor.
Aspiring chiropractic students should choose a program that provides multiple clinical experiences and extensive on-site healthcare clinics.
While every Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) is trained to perform a wide range of standard manipulation and mobilization techniques, many choose to specialize. These specialties encompass specific conditions, patient populations, and clinical practice environments.
If the idea of a career where you help people through non-drug treatments appeals to you, chiropractic may be a perfect fit. The field is also more effective when students come from diverse backgrounds and experiences.
In addition, communication skills are essential to chiropractic work. A degree in communications or membership in an organization such as Toastmasters can help polish your verbal and interpersonal skills. Many DCs go on to launch their practices at some point, so courses in entrepreneurial studies and business management can also be helpful.
One of the most significant drawbacks to becoming a chiropractor is that many students must take out student loans. As a result, they may end up with a lot of debt that can affect their financial stability and ability to make other long-term goals.
Some states require additional, state-specific qualifications beyond passing the national exam to earn a license to practice chiropractic. You should check your prospective school’s website to find out if there are additional requirements besides the NBCE examination and licensing process.
When evaluating a school for your future chiropractic career, look for a program that offers a world-class education with real-world clinical experience. For example, some have on-campus healthcare clinics and technology-enhanced classrooms where students learn the science (and art) of chiropractic adjustments, such as basic technique, diversified, and flexion distraction. It also features a 1:12 faculty-to-student ratio, which allows students to receive individual instruction from expert faculty.