How Do I Become a Chiropractor?

If you are interested in working in the healthcare field, you may be wondering, “How do I become a chiropractor?” This type of work is a good fit for someone with good people skills who wants to provide hands-on care and who likes science. Chiropractors must be good listeners who can identify with their patients’ health concerns.

Chiropractors are trained to diagnose and treat ailments of the musculoskeletal system and their effects on the nervous system. This branch of medicine focuses on the premise that spinal misalignments lead to health issues with the nerves, resulting in pain and discomfort, as well as lower resistance to disease. While chiropractors diagnose medical conditions, they do not prescribe medications or perform surgery. They may use manual manipulation techniques, acupuncture, massage, ultrasound, heat, light, water and other methods to treat patients.

Undergraduate Study

In the United States, a person who wants to become a chiropractor must complete at least 90 semester hours (two years) of a Bachelor’s degree program, including courses in:

• Biology
• Chemistry (Organic and Inorganic)
• English
• Humanities/Social Sciences
• Physics
• Psychology

Chiropractic Program

Next, the future chiropractor will need to attend an accredited chiropractic program. As of the spring of 2012, 15 schools in the U.S. have been accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. Students enrolled in this degree program are required to complete at least 4,200 hours of instruction, which includes laboratory, classroom and clinical experience.

In the first two years of the chiropractic degree program, students take a number of science courses, including the following:

• Anatomy
• Biochemistry
• Dermatology
• Ethics
• Geriatrics
• Microbiology
• Nutrition
• Obstetrics/Gynecology
• Pathology
• Physiology
• Psychiatry
• Public Health
• Radiology
• Toxicology

During the final two years of the program, students focus on learning about joint manipulation and adjustment. This is the part of the program where chiropractic students get clinical experience in diagnosing and treating patients. Students graduating from the program are awarded a Doctor of Chiropractic degree.

Obtaining a License

All states require chiropractors to obtain a license before they will be allowed to practice. Some states will allow a Doctor of Chiropractic who has been licensed in a certain state to obtain one in another state without having to complete further training or write a state licensing exam if his or her education and examination results meet state standards.

In most states, a graduate from a chiropractic program will write one or more components of the four-part test developed by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. State examinations may also be required to supplement the National Board test.

Except for New Jersey, licensed chiropractors must complete a minimum number of hours of continuing education programs each year to maintain their standing. Continuing education credits are offered by institutions, chiropractic associations and accredited educational programs.

The answer to the question, “How do I become a chiropractor?” is that it takes several years of post-secondary education and writing a state and/or national licensing exam to get qualified to work in this field.

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