BLS: Job prospects should be good; employment is expected to increase faster
than average as consumer demand for alternative health care grows.
Thoughts: I have met, spoken on
the phone, or communicated via email with far too many students, potential
students or recent graduates that I believe are in some sort of "fantasy land."
A DC degree does not entitle anyone to a salary anywhere. Job prospects should
be good, but expect to go to work.
BLS: Chiropractors must be licensed, requiring 2 to 4 years of undergraduate
education, the completion of a 4-year chiropractic college course, and passing
scores on national and State examinations.
Thoughts: Focus on your
education, pass your exams, get your license. You won't do anyone any good in
the U.S. without it.
BLS: About 58 percent of chiropractors are self-employed.
Thoughts: I am self employed so
you can count me in the majority. I love having my own office but it may not be
right for you.
BLS: Earnings are relatively low in the beginning, but increase as the practice
Thoughts: Earnings may be
relatively low to non-existent in the beginning. Just like in starting any
business. A successful chiropractor has some sort of business plan to allow them
to continue living within their means while they grow their practice.
In the United States
Qualifications, and Advancement
BLS: All States and the District of Columbia regulate the
practice of chiropractic and grant licenses to chiropractors who meet the
educational and examination requirements established by the State. Chiropractors
can practice only in States where they are licensed. Some States have agreements
permitting chiropractors licensed in one State to obtain a license in another
without further examination, provided that their educational, examination, and
practice credentials meet State specifications.
Thoughts: Take your exams and prepare to get your license as
early as possible. Upon graduation from college is not the time to go on
permanent vacation. You may have to continue working at your part time job (if
you had one) or remain living at home with parents, roommates, friends, or
whatever it was you were doing. While you are in school (or even before) give
some serious thought as to where you may want to practice. Take exams and create
a plan to become licensed in all your preferred states.
It's not uncommon for example to be licensed in New York and Florida, or New
Jersey and Florida, or Nevada, California and Arizona. If I was a chiropractic
student in Texas I'd consider getting licensed in that state and would then get
licensed in the state I planned to live and practice in.
BLS: Most State boards require at least 2 years of undergraduate education; an
increasing number are requiring a 4-year bachelor's degree. All boards require
the completion of a 4-year program at an accredited chiropractic college leading
to the Doctor of Chiropractic degree.
Thoughts: The idea is that there will be more schooling
instead of less. 4+4=8
BLS: For licensure, most State boards recognize either all or part of the
four-part test administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
State examinations may supplement the National Board tests, depending on State
requirements. All States except New Jersey require the completion of a specified
number of hours of continuing education each year in order to maintain
licensure. Chiropractic associations and accredited chiropractic programs and
institutions offer continuing education programs.
Thoughts: New Jersey is DEFINITELY a state I would consider
getting licensed in. I say this because there are some fine chiropractors there
and the state has probably the best professional mentoring network I know of.
Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas have strong groups of
doctors that work together. This is one of those things you typically don't
think about while in school. My experience has taught me that fellowship is
EVERYTHING in becoming and maintaining success as a doctor of chiropractic.
There is no better way to learn something than to teach it to others. Similarly,
the cooperation in working together to accomplish shared goals results in
outcomes that are beneficial to ones self and beneficial to all other group
BLS: In 2005, 15 chiropractic programs and 2 chiropractic institutions in the
United States were accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education.
Applicants are required to have at least 90 semester hours of undergraduate
study leading toward a bachelor's degree, including courses in English, the
social sciences or humanities, organic and inorganic chemistry, biology,
physics, and psychology. Many applicants have a bachelor's degree, which may
eventually become the minimum entry requirement. Several chiropractic colleges
offer prechiropractic study, as well as a bachelor's degree program. Recognition
of prechiropractic education offered by chiropractic colleges varies among the
Thoughts: 10 years ago I may have said much of the
prerequisite education was nonsense, I don't feel that way today. Notice that
BLS talks of "prechiropractic study" and not "premedicine study." I still
believe most medical study taught to chiropractic students is a waste of
valuable education. Medicine as health care is a completely different system
from chiropractic and should be taught to those planning to practice medicine. I
believe we run into problems and create confusion when we do otherwise. That
being said, psychology, social sciences and humanities are very valuable studies
to the DC. The sciences such as physics and chemistry are equally important.
Today, I am thankful for the very solid prechiropractic education that I had.
Like many others, at the time I thought "what does this have to do with being a
BLS: Chiropractic programs require a minimum of 4,200 hours of
combined classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience. During the first 2
years, most chiropractic programs emphasize classroom and laboratory work in
basic science subjects such as anatomy, physiology, public health, microbiology,
pathology, and biochemistry. The last 2 years stress courses in manipulation and
spinal adjustment and provide clinical experience in physical and laboratory
diagnosis, neurology, orthopedics, geriatrics, physiotherapy, and nutrition.
Chiropractic programs and institutions grant the degree of Doctor of
Thoughts: Nice to see that BLS lists manipulation and spinal
adjustment individually and recognizes they are two separate things. Coursework
may involve classes teaching manipulation of a shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, or
ankle which differs from spinal adjustment work. It is also important to take
note of the fact that BLS recognizes chiropractic programs and institutions
exclusively as granting the degree of Doctor of Chiropractic. The result is a
separate and distinctly different educational, professional, licensing, and
regulatory, experience from that of a doctor of medicine. The study of things
medical does not a chiropractor make. As I read it, in no state in the US is a
medical doctor qualified or licensed to determine the need for chiropractic care
for any being, whether that being be human or animal. Common sense tells us the
only exception would be a doctor who has a degree from a recognized chiropractic
program or institution. In that case, they would have a DC degree.
BLS: Chiropractic colleges also offer Postdoctoral training in orthopedics,
neurology, sports injuries, nutrition, rehabilitation, radiology, industrial
consulting, family practice, pediatrics, and applied chiropractic sciences. Once
such training is complete, chiropractors may take specialty exams leading to
"diplomate" status in a given specialty. Exams are administered by specialty
Thoughts: You can spend the rest of your life in postdoctoral
training. It is not necessary for anyone to do so but if you are passionate
about being a chiropractor, chances are you'll want to hang out with others and
continue learning for as long as you can. After eight years, I still continue to
go for monthly training in postdoctoral work. I believe doing so keeps you fresh
and connected to what is going on in the world. Not mentioned above is
postdoctoral study in philosophy. For example, the Palmer University system has
a Diplomate in Philosophical Chiropractic Standards (DPhCS) program.
BLS: Chiropractic requires keen observation to detect physical abnormalities. It
also takes considerable manual dexterity, but not unusual strength or endurance,
to perform adjustments. Chiropractors should be able to work independently and
handle responsibility. As in other health-related occupations, empathy,
understanding, and the desire to help others are good qualities for dealing
effectively with patients.
Thoughts: Well stated. Big chiropractors don't make them
better adjusters, nor are men better suited for chiropractic work than women.
Empathy, understanding, and the desire to help others, in my opinion, are
essential to a successful practice and life experience.
BLS: Newly licensed chiropractors can set up a new practice, purchase an
established one, or enter into partnership with an established practitioner.
They also may take a salaried position with an established chiropractor, a group
practice, or a health care facility.
Thoughts: Success stories abound but failure and misery loves
company. Before doing anything, newly licensed chiropractors had better have a
plan of action and must act on that plan in order to succeed.