By Michael Dorausch, D.C.
A Biological Sciences student at Marquette University asks questions about choosing chiropractic colleges to attend. Questions are important to get answered before enrolling in any long-term educational program. The more knowledge and understanding one goes in with, the better suited they will be for success upon graduation.
The question I received via email is as follows...
Hi Dr. Dorausch, I am a Biological Sciences student at Marquette University. I read your article on PlanetChiropractic.com and I was wondering if you could help me clarify some doubts that I am having pertaining to how to go about beginning a chiropractic career. I'm in the middle of researching Chiropractic Universities in order to decide where to apply, the question is if there are certain schools that are more recognized or respected than others.
As to what I have found so far, what I mostly see is Palmer, Palmer Florida, Palmer West and also Life University. I have been researching these schools and Palmer seems like the best bet, Life also gets great reviews but I am more inclined towards the Southern California Institute of Health Sciences dual degree program in DC and master of acupuncture and oriental medicine.
I was wondering if you, being successful in this field and obviously knowing how this all works, could advise me or give me any recommendations as to which universities to pursue with a major interest. This is of great importance to me due to the fact that through my research I have seen that where one studies chiropractic influences a great deal in the type of chiropractor one becomes and the quality of service one would be able to provide.
This career perfectly balances my two passions, which are service to others, especially the ability to provide people with better health and quality of life, and also my own quality of life and I would like to give myself the best opportunity that I can to be the best that I can be in this field.
My reply... This is a great series of questions. Here is someone seriously researching chiropractic programs and not just choosing one because it's down the street from their house.
I think that any of the Palmer Schools or Life Schools would be a good choice for most seeking to become chiropractors. You mention Southern California Institute of Health Sciences (SCUHS) and an interest in the acupuncture program. If dual degrees are important to you I'd lean towards attending SCUHS. I normally would recommend another school, but you may have very different interests in practice than I do, and I don't want to ignore that.
Living in Southern California is typically more costly than living in Davenport, Iowa (or living in Atlanta or Florida). Not that any of these cities are bad places to live, but California weather rocks! Atlanta, Davenport, and Florida get very hot and humid in summer months, go visit Iowa in August if you don't believe me. SoCal has traffic, and lot's of it, so that's not a plus. Finding apartments and roommates nearby the school in SoCal should not be an issue, as it's situated in a residential area.
If you can afford it I would suggest this... Visit California (choose either North or South) and check out the two schools in the area. Palmer West and Life West are Northern, CCCLA and SCUHS are Southern. You can drive from LifeWest to Palmer (or vice versa) in less than an hour (depending on traffic). You can drive from CCCLA (Los Angeles) to SCUHS in less than 2 hours (25 miles apart but expect LA traffic). This way you've visited at least 2 campuses in the state.
Besides that, plan to visit either Palmer in Iowa or Life in Marietta. Everybody thinking about a career in chiropractic should visit at least one of these 2 schools, if even to learn more about the history of chiropractic. Life University has a beautiful campus, and I believe housing nearby is affordable, I'm not certain on rental rates near other schools.
If you choose a school like SCUHS remember this, while you may get education in acupuncture, you may have to train on your own to get a specific education in chiropractic adjustive technique. Inquire regarding the curriculum, there's no Upper Cervical taught, no Gonstead, no Sacral Occipital Technique, as I believe the school focuses on a single method of diversified style hands on adjusting. While it's extra work, if you choose any school that only offers 1 or 2 techniques, get yourself signed up for "adjusting clubs" like Gonstead or others. From what I recall, the Gonstead club in SoCal is terrific, and in participating, you'll be exposed to many exceptionally talented individuals in the field.
That being said, I know great chiropractors that have graduated from SCUHS (formerly LACC), one of them being Stew Bittman. The reality on adjusting in chiropractic is that you'll have to practice far more than what hours are taught while in school. All the colleges are more concerned about students passing state and national board exams, skills to get people well will be on you.
Visit schools, talk to chiropractors (that are successful), ask about curriculums, meet students, and get your questions answered. Build a plan to be successful and work that plan, the rewards can be extremely gratifying (but you have to work to get there). Most importantly, get adjusted and experience someones office from the perspective of a patient.
Be sure to check out these somewhat related posts...
Question Regarding Chiropractic Colleges
Can You offer Advice about Chiropractic Schools?
Questions About Practicing Chiropractic
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