How To Become a Chiropractor

If you pay close attention to details, have empathy for people in pain and are willing to work with your hands to manually adjust spinal problems, you might be wondering how to become a chiropractor. Chiropractic is a health care specialty that focuses on conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractors most commonly assist patients with spine or back pain, but may view health holistically and offer additional services to improve overall wellbeing. Many chiropractors are self-employed and are responsible for management and administrative duties required for running their own private practices.

Most patients seek out a chiropractor to assist with back or neck pain, but these healthcare professionals also work with the human musculoskeletal system as a whole. The musculoskeletal system includes the body’s muscles, bones, tendons and ligaments. Chiropractors begin their work with a patient by listening to the patient’s account of the problem and familiarizing themselves with the patient’s medical history. They examine the spine to begin determining the diagnosis. If necessary, chiropractors will order X-rays or other tests to assist in their diagnoses. Chiropractic care may involve the use of heat or cold to help ease patients’ pain. Often, chiropractic treatment involves techniques used to manipulate the spinal column and adjust joints by hand.

Some chiropractors are advocates of holistic medicine. In addition to practicing spinal manipulation, these healthcare professionals may also perform massages and acupuncture or acupressure. Chiropractors are often of the opinion that ailments of the spine affect the body as a whole, including the nervous system. They may adjust the spine in an attempt to improve overall health, such as strengthening the body’s immunity to diseases by altering the position of joints to avoid harming the nervous system.

To begin preparing for a career as a chiropractor, candidates should first enroll in a four-year undergraduate program at a college or university. Coursework in biology, physics and chemistry can help aspiring chiropractors develop an educational background that will benefit them in later schooling. Upon completing at least three years of undergraduate education, students can begin applying to Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) programs accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. These four-year programs require two years of classroom instruction in the sciences, such as anatomy and physiology, as well as another two years of hands-on clinical experience under the guidance of experienced, licensed chiropractors. Upon completing a Doctor of Chiropractic program, graduates must obtain a license in the state in which they intend to work.

Chiropractors earn a median salary of $67,200 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The job outlook for this occupation is positive, with the BLS estimating a 28 percent rise in career opportunities for chiropractors during the 2010 to 2020 decade. If you have the physical dexterity to work with your hands and the compassion to care for injured patients, knowing how to become a chiropractor could be your first step toward a rewarding new career in the healthcare industry.

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