How do I Become a Chiropractic Doctor?

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  • Written By: Hillary Flynn
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 May 2020
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Chiropractic doctors treat patients who have health problems relating to the musculoskeletal system. This typically means that an issue with the spine is affecting the nervous system, causing pain and discomfort. To become a chiropractic doctor, one must receive extensive training to acquire the knowledge needed to properly realign the joints of the spine. Chiropractic care is considered a holistic medicine, meaning the approach is geared toward the individual as a whole and not just focused on the symptom. That means a chiropractor must have knowledge of the entire body.

Someone who wishes to become a chiropractic doctor should first look at the different schools of chiropractic medicine and check the admissions requirements. Most schools require at least 90 hours of undergraduate education covering the basic courses as well as courses in chemistry, biology, physiology, physics, and psychology. Many candidates complete a bachelor's degree first, but this is not always required, and some schools of chiropractic medicine offer bachelor's degrees as well.

Once the undergraduate portion of study is completed and a candidate is admitted to a college of chiropractic medicine, the student must then complete approximately four years of study. To become a chiropractic doctor, those four years will be spent completing 4200 hours of classroom, lab, and clinical experience. The first two years are generally spent in the classroom and lab, and the last two years provide an extensive level of experience actually working on clinical patients, learning how to properly manipulate the spine, diagnose patients, and prepare treatment plans.

After completing school, a candidate must then become licensed to become a chiropractic doctor. Licensing is handled on the state level, and a chiropractor must be licensed in the state where that doctor will practice. This usually involves passing a state exam after school is completed. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners created a four-part test that is used in part or in all by most states, though many states supplement the exam with their own questions.

After completing all the requirements to become a chiropractic doctor, many decide to continue their education and specialize in specific areas. Options include orthopedics, neurology, sports injuries, nutrition, family practice, pediatrics, and many others. Special certification is granted for individual specializations. Regardless of the choice to specialize, all chiropractic doctors must obtain a certain number of continuing education credits each year to retain a license, with the number of hours required depending on the state in which the doctor practices.


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