Chiropractor education begins with two to four years of undergraduate study followed by an additional four years of specialized chiropractic training. In addition to their educational training, chiropractors must also pass licensing exams as dictated by their country or state. Individuals with less than a bachelor’s degree typically find it extremely difficult to enter chiropractic programs.
Although no specific undergraduate degree major is required for admittance to most chiropractic programs, it is generally recommended that a focus be placed on science and psychology. Specific courses that are suggested include both organic and inorganic chemistry, physics, and medical terminology. Some programs now also require additional coursework in quantitative sciences, such as biomechanics.
The first two years of chiropractor education encompasses many laboratory sciences. Anatomy, physiology, public health, microbiology, and biochemistry are required classes in the United States, Britain, and Canada. Other guidelines also require chiropractor education programs to better prepare chiropractors for working with their patients on general health concerns such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.
The second two years of chiropractor education focuses on the manual dexterity required to perform spinal manipulations and adjustments. Additional training is also provided for laboratory diagnosis, neurology, orthopedics, and physiotherapy. Once this phase of education is complete, individuals become candidates to sit for their certification exams or to continue in a specialty area of chiropractics.
Three of the fastest growing areas of chiropractics are the treatment of sports-related injuries, nutrition, and physical rehabilitation. Some chiropractors also continue to study the application of chiropractic sciences and may participate in ongoing research. It is important to note, however, that these areas of specialty will require candidates to pass additional specialty exams for certification as well as additional university coursework.
Additional coursework and certification in a chiropractic specialty is not without benefit. As chiropractic practice continues to gain popularity, many chiropractors have found it advantageous to work with physical therapists or medical doctors, especially orthopedic specialists. Some sports teams also employ chiropractors to help treat their players. In order to qualify for positions such as these, additional training in orthopedics, physical therapy, and case management are often suggested.
Despite the growing acceptance of chiropractics as a valid medical specialty, many chiropractors continue to work alone in a private practice or in a small group of chiropractors. As a result, many chiropractor education programs now include business management classes in addition to the core curriculum. This has helped prepare them to become small business owners and to stay in practice longer.