How to Become A Chiropractor

Chiropractic is the field that focuses on the relationship between the spine and its functioning.  Since more and more people tend to get services from chiropractors, demand for these healthcare experts is expected to grow in the coming years. Chiropractors are in demand because they provide holistic treatment rather than focusing on a particular health condition. Besides, chiropractors are gaining popularity as they use natural methods to treat instead of using medicines or surgery. Forbes has placed chiropractor in its list of the Best Jobs in Healthcare (2012).

What do Chiropractors Do?

Chiropractors treat patients having problems of the tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones and nerves - neuromusculoskeletal system.  Using a number of techniques such as spinal adjustments and more, they help patients' neck and back pain. Besides, chiropractors may also advise patients on health and lifestyle issues including nutrition and experience. Some chiropractors concentrate in areas such as pediatrics, sports, neurology, and nutrition.

Unlike doctors who focus on treating a specific condition, chiropractors focus on patients' overall health. They believe that misalignments of the spinal joints get in the way of a patient’s neuromuscular system and may result in lower resistance to disease, as well as other health conditions.

How Do I Become a Chiropractor?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to become a chiropractor, it is essential to earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree and be licensed in a state where a chiropractor intends to practice.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Chiropractor?

Doctor of Chiropractic degree generally takes 4 years of full-time study to complete and also requires at least 3 years of undergraduate college education for admission.

How to Enroll in the D.C. Program?

To get into the D.C. programs, students must complete 90 semester hours. They must also have completed courses in sciences and liberal arts. Courses taken in biology, physics and chemistry are preferred. Most students complete a bachelor’s degree prior to enrolling in a chiropractic program, the BLS notes.

Chiropractic Education Overview

Students in the chiropractic doctoral program receive classroom instruction and also get opportunities to complete supervised clinical experience. The curriculum may include subjects such as biology, anatomy, physiology, and related courses while the practical component trains students in diagnosis, spinal assessment, and spinal adjustment techniques.

After completing the degree, some students go on to complete postgraduate programs that lead to diploma and certification credentials. Enrolling in these advanced programs can be suitable for students who want to specialize in a particular field such as pediatrics or orthopedics. The option of dual-degree is also available at the doctoral level.

Do I Need to Be Licensed?

Chiropractors must hold a license to practice. The requirements for the license will differ from state to state but generally require completion of the D.C. program from an accredited institute. In some states  chiropractors must hold an undergraduate degree as well. Besides, students need to pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam that includes clinical and basic sciences, clinical case studies, and a practical exam. Chiropractors must also participate in continuing education programs in order to maintain their license.

Desirable Qualities for Chiropractors

There are some skills that chiropractors must possess in order to carry out their duties in an effective manner.

  • Physical fitness – As chiropractors need to work with their hands in order to manually adjust the spine and other joints, it is important for them to be physically fit.
  • Decision making skills – Chiropractors must also have decision making skills as they need to decide which course of action is the most suitable for a patient.
  • Interpersonal skills – Since chiropractors need to deal with patients from all backgrounds, they should have strong interpersonal skills.
  • Eye for details – It is essential for these professionals to be keen observers as well. They need to give attention to detail as it is essential for right diagnoses.
  • Empathy – Empathy is another attribute that chiropractors must possess since they need to work with patients who are suffering from pain.

Where Do Chiropractors Work?

According to the BLS, in 2012, chiropractors held about 44,400 jobs. Most of them worked in solo or group practices while others were self-employed. Some chiropractors also worked in physicians' offices and hospitals.

Career Outlook for Chiropractors

The BLS predicts a job growth at the rate of 15% between 2012 and 2022, which is faster than the average for all other occupations. People nowadays prefer to get treatments from chiropractors as opposed to using prescribed drugs or surgery. The growing number of aging population will also lead to new opportunities for these professionals since older adults generally need the services of these professionals more than the young.

How Much Do Chiropractors Earn?

While the lowest 10% earned less than $31,030, and the top 10% earned over $142,950, the median annual pay for chiropractors in 2012 was $66,160. (BLS)

Financial aid

Students who wish to enroll in chiropractic programs but do not have the financial means to afford their education can apply for financial aid. Federal, state as well as institution based awards are available only to those who qualify. A financial aid package can help the students pay for their tuition, fee and related expenses. Some organizations and groups also offer financial aid programs for aspiring chiropractors. Some of them include:

  • American Specialty Health
  • The American Chiropractic Association
  • Blair Chiropractic Society

To maximize your chances of getting a financial aid award, contact your school’s financial aid office.

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