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Program Description

Just the Facts

Chiropractic. A program that prepares individuals for the independent professional practice of chiropractic, a health care and healing system based on the application of non-invasive treatments and spinal adjustments to alleviate health problems caused by vertebral misalignments affecting bodily function as derived from the philosophy of Daniel Palmer. Includes instruction in the basic medical sciences, chiropractic theory and science, postural and spinal analysis, diagnostic radiology and ultrasound, adjustment technique, patient counseling, professional standards and ethics, and practice management.

This program is available in these options:

  • Master's degree
  • Doctoral degree

High School Courses

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Additional Information

In many ways, chiropractic students' training resembles what medical doctors receive. But chiropractors can't use the title MD (doctor of medicine). The degree chiropractors earn is a DC, or doctor of chiropractic.

The word "chiropractic" originates from Greek. It means "done by hand." Chiropractic students learn a system of restoring the body's health by manipulating its parts with their hands.

Daniel Driscoll is the dean of student affairs at the National University of Health Sciences. He says that the training for medical doctors and chiropractic physicians appears quite similar, at least in the beginning.

"There's almost an identical amount of everything from human dissection to biochemistry, microbiology, bacteriology, and the like," he says.

Driscoll says that the two fields begin to diverge slightly after the first couple of years. They emphasize different types of health care delivery.

Chiropractic focuses more on understanding human physiology (how we function biologically). Conventional medicine, on the other hand, concerns itself more with pathology (the study of diseases).

Chiropractic programs take four to five years to complete. However, that's followed by another two or three years of residency. Students specialize in areas like clinical sciences, radiology, sports sciences, orthopedics or rehabilitation.

Most students who enter chiropractic programs have a bachelor's degree. A strong biological science background is the best foundation. But Driscoll says there are other requirements as well.

"Our institution, and most health care institutions, are not just concerned with students' GPAs [grade point averages] and whether they spent all their time concentrating on just the biological sciences," he says.

"We're interested in attracting well-rounded students who are capable of delivering the kind of interactive, empathetic and sensitive health care that consumers are expecting and demanding."

Kelly Mills works with a chiropractic training school. "It is strongly recommended that applicants have completed courses in organic chemistry, biology, psychology, the humanities or the social sciences," she says.

In addition to being interviewed by an admissions team, applicants to Mills' program must submit two essays, an autobiographical sketch, and three references. There's a lot of competition for places in the program.

"Each year, the college receives between four and five applications for each available space in the program," says Mills.

You'll need to take and pass licensing exams upon completion of your education.

How do you know if this is the field for you? Driscoll suggests you visit chiropractic colleges. His university has a program where high school students from different states take a tour of the institution, usually with their biology instructor.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Chiropractors

Heaps of info for students, patients and chiropractors

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