Chiropractors are healthcare specialists who employ manipulation techniques to treat musculoskeletal and nervous system conditions. They adhere to the chiropractic principles that a healthy nervous system can bring about proper functions in the entire body and will result to the general well being of the person.
The chiropractors’ key responsibilities include:
- conducting patient examinations
- taking patients’ medical history, taking note of the effects of the hereditary, dietary and environmental factors in the patients’ health
- conducting diagnostic and medical tests including x-ray analysis and direct observation and using chiropractic principles in diagnosing ailments
- performing neuromusculoskeletal treatments like adjustments to the spine and limbs and other therapies
- making medical referrals to other professional practitioners, when needed
- providing patient advice on lifestyle and other health issues, which may include changes in nutrition, exercise, and rest habits to address these issues.
How to Become a Chiropractor
What goes with chiropractic’s phenomenal growth as a healthcare option is the popularity of the chiropractic profession as well. Data from the National Bureau of Labor Statistics show that in 2012, there were 44,400 practicing chiropractors in the U.S. What does one who aspires to be a chiropractic doctor have to do to be among them? There are five steps:
- Earn a High School diploma. You can prepare for your future chiropractic studies with high school courses in science, mathematics, English and social studies. Your knowledge of physics, chemistry, and biology will be useful in providing the foundation for advanced science knowledge. Your communication and research skills will be developed by taking courses in English and social studies.
- Earn an undergraduate degree. The undergraduate degree required is either a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree. To qualify for a chiropractic doctoral program, however, you should have earned at least 90 units in general education and completed courses in biology, physics and organic and inorganic chemistry.
- Earn a doctorate in chiropractic. Most programs for Doctor of Chiropractic last four years. Some schools though, offer a five-year doctorate program for chiropractic while others offer a six-year program combining three years of bachelor’s degree with three years for the doctorate degree. You wil need to complete 4,200 hours or more of clinical classroom and lab study to earn the doctorate of chiropractic degree. The first two years in a four-year program focus on anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology and public health courses. The final two years emphasize more lab work time and clinical experiences in manipulations and spinal adjustments. You will also undergo training in other areas of study such as nutrition, physical diagnosis, neurology and orthopedics.
- Obtain a license. License is required in all US states for you to be able to practice your profession. You have to complete two years or more of postsecondary education and four years of chiropractic education and training from an accredited school to be eligible to take the licensure exam. The National Board of Chiropractic Examiners offers the licensure examinations.
- Practice your chiropractic profession. Most of the practicing chiropractic professionals have solo practice. You can also seek employment at a hospital, college or chiropractic research institution.
The outlook for the chiropractic profession is very bright. Employment of chiropractors is projected to grow 15 percent in a ten-year period starting 2012. The general increased interest in non-invasive healthcare services is the primary driver for the projected growth in chiropractors.