What You Need To Know About a Chiropractor’s Schooling

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What You Need To Know About a Chiropractor’s Schooling


Understanding a chiropractor’s schooling can help you gain trust in their abilities and expertise. Checking their credentials beforehand will also help you comprehend their path to becoming a doctor of chiropractic and decide if they'll be the right fit for you.


The single biggest concern people have about seeking chiropractic treatment is that chiropractors are not doctors and, therefore, are not trustworthy when it comes to providing health care. But while indeed chiropractors are not medical doctors, they have extensive medical education enabling them to provide high-quality care to their patients. 


Let's dive into the most important things you need to know about a chiropractor's schooling so you get a better idea of the vast range of knowledge behind this profession.


What Is a Chiropractor?


Let's start with the baseline question. A chiropractor is a medical professional — not a medical doctor as they do not have M.D. degrees — whose main focus is to realign the patient's spine and extremities to their physiological positions. The main principle behind this is that when the vertebrae are misaligned, they affect the full range of structures around and passing through them, such as nerves and blood vessels. When these are affected, so are the other structures connected to them, such as muscles and organs. 


When a professional chiropractor realigns the vertebrae and limbs into their physiological position, it positively affects the function of all the structures connected to them and greatly benefits the patient's health.


Realigning the spine and extremities is done via chiropractic manipulations, which require a special technique and extensive practice to perform. The goal of chiropractic manipulations can be to treat a specific issue, such as back or neck pain. They can also be performed as preventative treatment since chiropractic has a beneficial effect on the entire body.


What Are a Chiropractor’s Duties?


Chiropractic schooling prepares chiropractors for performing the following series of duties among their day-to-day activities:

  • Physical examination of the patient

  • Requesting and examining diagnostic imaging  

  • Providing patients with a diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan

  • Performing chiropractic adjustments and manipulations

  • Providing the patient with sleep hygiene techniques and a series of physical exercises they can perform at home

  • Referring patients to medical doctors for additional treatment


While chiropractors can request diagnostic imaging, they cannot prescribe medication to their patients, as this requires an M.D. degree. However, chiropractors aim to provide medication-free treatment. In some cases, they might recommend over-the-counter medication, but they will generally aim to treat their patient without using a pharmacological component.


Similarities And Differences Between a Chiropractor’s Schooling And Medical School


woman studying to become a chiropractic examiner


When graduating, chiropractors receive the title of Doctor of Chiropractic, while doctors receive the title of Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). One of the central similarities between the education both receive is that they have a similar number of hours spent in labs and classrooms — more than 4,200 hours of instruction, to be exact.


The main difference between these two degrees is the approach each takes when treating patients. While medical doctors use pharmacology and both invasive and non-invasive medical procedures, chiropractors solely apply a non-invasive, non-pharmacological care method.


This distinction shapes the course structure attached to these two degrees, with chiropractors receiving more extensive training in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and diagnostic imaging, and medical doctors focusing more on pharmacology — procedures such as surgery — and public health issues.


How Long Does It Take To Become a Chiropractor?


Wondering how long is schooling for a chiropractor? A chiropractor's schooling takes around five to six years to complete. 


The first step to becoming a chiropractor is completing three years of undergraduate study. After this, students may enroll in a Doctor of Chiropractic degree program, which features the minimum of 4,200 hours of instruction mentioned above. This can take between three and a half to five years to complete.


Aside from this, students must pass a series of examinations in front of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and, finally, get licensed in the state — or relevant jurisdiction — where they want to practice. Following that, professional chiropractors must continue to take education courses regularly to maintain their license.


What Are The Main Courses Included In a Chiropractor’s Schooling? 


The Doctor of Chiropractic degree program features three main phases of education:


1. Basic Sciences


This phase is focused on understanding the human body and how it functions. It includes courses like anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, biophysics, nutrition, and many others.


2. Clinical And Chiropractic Sciences


This phase focuses on the etiology of disease, physical examination, diagnostics, treatment, and physician-patient interaction. It features extensive lab training and a hands-on approach to education.


3. Clinical Internships


This is the final phase of the degree program, where students become chiropractic interns and get to practice in real-world clinical settings alongside experienced chiropractors. This typically takes place in clinics, where students can gain experience while working with a wide range of patients while being supervised and guided by professional chiropractors. 


As you can see, becoming a chiropractor is not as simple as it may seem. There are several requirements to be met, and much study and learning is involved before becoming a fully-fledged chiropractor.


We hope this guide was helpful to you! If you want to learn more about a chiropractor’s education or how chiropractic can benefit you, reach out to us. Our doctors will provide the best care and guidance for you.


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