Chiropractic is an alternative method of medical practice that focuses on the musculoskeletal system. Chiropractors emphasis the bodies natural healing properties and take a holistic approach in their care of patients. The patients overall health and lifestyle are considered during diagnosis and treatment. Chiropractors use hands on methods to treat patients. These methods include spinal adjustment and soft tissue therapy.
The chiropractic profession follows three different schools of thought. First, straight chiropractors focus on the traditional practice of vertebral sublaxation. The belief is that the spine falls out of alignment affecting the nervous system thus causing disease. Straight chiropractors will mostly use spinal adjustment methods for treatment and prefer to remain separate from mainstream healthcare. Second, mixer chiropractors combine some of the traditional beliefs of the straight chiropractors, but mix in mainstream medical philosophies. Mixers will use spinal adjustment to treat some problems, but will also treat problems in the extremities such as hands, ankles, etc. Third, reform chiropractors reject the majority of beliefs from straight chiropractors and focus on evidence-based methods of treatment. They emphasize neuromusculoskeletal disorders. Reform chiropractors favor expanding the scope of practice and allowing chiropractors limited authorization to write prescriptions.
Chiropractors spend 4 years in chiropractic school after completing 90 semester hours or a bachelor's degree at an undergraduate institution.
The job outlook for chiropractors is good with the profession expected to grow at a faster than average rate. More and more Americans look to alternative and natural methods of healthcare, including chiropractic. Many chiropractors are in private practice, but more chiropractors are being incorporated into healthcare teams that include physicians, physical therapists, etc. In 2006, chiropractors earned an average of $65,220 a year with most chiropractors making from $45,710 to $96,500 a year.*
*Yearly income information taken from U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook.
At least 90 completed semester hours are required before matriculation into chiropractic school; however, many chiropractic schools prefer a bachelor's degree. Because of this, it is recommended that all pre-chiropractic students plan on completing a bachelor's degree. Although many pre-health students select biology as a major, chiropractic schools do not consider one major as better than another. Your major should be chosen based on your interests and strengths and can be in any discipline, science or non-science. It is important to select a major that suits you. Keep in mind that you may use your undergraduate degree to fall back on if you are if you choose to pursue alternate options.
NOTE: Chiropractic schools determine their own individual requirements. The courses listed below are a general guideline to help you prepare for chiropractic school application. Refer to the individual school's website to determine the specific requirements for that institution. A list of chiropractic schools may be found at www.cce-usa.org.
Required by most chiropractic schools:
- Intro to English: ENGL 1010
- Intermediate English: ENGL 2020
- College Biology I with lab: BIOL 1610/1615
- Human Anatomy or College Biology II with lab: ZOOL 2320 or BIOL 1620/1625
- Principles of Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 1210/1215 and 1220/1225
- Organic Chemistry I and II with labs: CHEM 2310/2315 and 2320/2325
- College Physics I and II with labs: PHYS 2010/2015 and 2020/2025
- General Psychology: PSY 1010
- 15 credit hours of additional Humanities and Social Science credits that may include Anthropology, English, Philosophy, Economics, Political Science, Communications, Foreign Languages, History and Psychology. (This requirement is waived if student has completed a bachelor's degree.)
Students should gain exposure to the field of chiropractic and have a clear understanding of what life as a chiropractor entails. Shadowing is an opportunity to observe chiropractors as they go through a routine day seeing patients, completing paperwork, etc. Many chiropractic schools will require a letter of recommendation from a chiropractor, so it is in your best interest to shadow at least one for a minimum of 8 hours.
CHOOSING A CHIROPRACTIC SCHOOL
There are 15 different chiropractic schools in the United States with approximately 18 different campuses. A list of the chiropractic schools can be obtained by going to www.cce-usa.org.
The same philosophies of chiropractic methods that are used by practicing chiropractors are also reflected in the different chiropractic schools. Some schools will follow the traditional thinking of straight chiropractors, some will follow the evidence-based methods embraced by reform chiropractors and some will land in the middle like the mixer chiropractors. It is very important that you do plenty of research on the individual schools so that you attend a school that matches your individual beliefs in chiropractic medicine.