How do you become a chiropractor?

According to the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners, Practice Analysis of Chiropractic 2015, “Government inquiries, as well as independent investigations by medical practitioners, have affirmed that today’s chiropractic training is [equivalent to] medical training in all pre-clinical subjects.”

A Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree is one of only three doctorate-level healthcare professions that require more than 4,000 hours of coursework — the others being Medical Doctor (M.D.) and Doct
or of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.). And in most states, as well as the federal Medicare program, chiropractors are designated as physician-level providers.

For undergraduate students interested in pursuing a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, it helps to have a background in sciences as they serve as a solid foundation for success in the D.C. program. Although not always the case, students often have bachelor’s degrees in biology, exercise physiology, kinesiology and psychology.

Steps to becoming a chiropractor

For admission into the Doctor of Chiropractic program at New York Chiropractic College, candidates must have completed the equivalent of 90 semester hours at an institution accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. These 90 hours will consist of a minimum of 24 hours in life and physical science courses, including at least one course in general biology (or anatomy, physiology, cell biology, microbiology, human biology, zoology), general chemistry, organic chemistry, and physics. The Admissions Office at NYCC also provides free transcript evaluations to help a candidate determine their preparedness.

In the typical chiropractic program, students can expect to study the following courses, among others, as outlined by the Association of Chiropractic Colleges:

  • Anatomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Pathology
  • Public health
  • Physical, clinical and laboratory diagnosis
  • Dermatology
  • Otolaryngology
  • Diagnostic imaging procedures
  • Biomechanics
  • Orthopedics
  • Neurology
  • Spinal analysis
  • Clinical decision making
  • Adjustive techniques
  • Research methods and procedures
  • Professional practice ethics

After graduation, D.C.s must pass a certification board exam governed by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), and then obtain a license in the state in which they wish to practice. Chiropractors must meet yearly continuing education requirements to maintain their licensure.

Many chiropractors also go on to pursue post-doctorate study in areas of specialization. For example, the Master of Science in Applied Clinical Nutrition at NYCC is a popular second/supplemental degree for chiropractors or chiropractic students interested in providing a nutritional component to their practice.

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