The education received by chiropractors is extremely thorough and demanding. Aspiring doctors of chiropractic receive extensive teachings in the structure and functioning of the human body, the disease processes, and how health is achieved and maintained. There is an emphasis placed on the management of spinal disorders and their role in the overall health and wellness of the individual.
The undergraduate education
Similar to the requirements of medical schools, prior to entering chiropractic college students must first complete 2-4 years of premed undergraduate studies – depending on the chiropractic college and state one wishes to practice in. During this time there is an emphasis on basic sciences including organic chemistry, general chemistry, physics, biology, and psychology.
The chiropractic education
Upon successful completion of the undergraduate studies, those students who are accepted to a chiropractic college enter a 4-5 year academic program, which is similar in content to medical school. Course work includes an in-depth study of anatomy, physiology, pathology, neurology, radiology, biomechanics, spinal adjustive techniques, including a variety of other health-related areas.
The primary focus of the chiropractic education is to teach the student how to recognize and effectively treat a wide variety of soft tissue disorders in order to reduce pain and discomfort, allow for effective and proper healing, restore normal body biomechanics and improve overall health. In order to treat such conditions, students are taught a number of different techniques and methods including chiropractic spinal adjustive techniques. Through chiropractic spinal adjustments, the students are taught how they can positively influence the body through the nervous system using specific spinal adjustive techniques. An emphasis is also placed on other aspects of health including diet, exercise, nutrition and wellness. Moreover, students receive thorough training aimed at identifying those conditions which are beyond the chiropractor’s scope of practice and which require outside medical referral.
During the academic 4-5 year program, students must successfully complete a number of national board examinations which are required for licensure. In addition, students must spend several hundred hours of internship in which they treat patients suffering from true health ailments while under professional supervision. Some schools actually begin introducing and training students to the clinical setting in just their second year of studies. This ensures that the graduating doctors of chiropractic will have all the necessary education, skills and clinical experience to provide exceptionally safe and effective chiropractic health care. Many colleges have additionally employed externship programs in which student interns assist field doctors in their private practices prior to graduation.
Upon graduation and the passing of all national board exams, students undergo state board examination for the state which they wish to practice in. If successful, the new doctor of chiropractic will receive his or her license for the practice of chiropractic in that state.
Once licensed, most states require the doctor of chiropractic to attend annual seminars in order to maintain a high level of competency and keep technical skills sharp and as current as possible. Failure to do so will result in the revocation of the doctor’s license.
Many doctors further their knowledge and skills by completing additional studies after graduation. These one to three year programs provide the information to place the doctors at the top of the health care field in specific areas. Some of the areas of study include orthopedics, neurology, radiology, sports, rehabilitation, nutrition, pediatrics and research.