|Chiropractic as a Mid Life Career Change
By Michael Dorausch, DC
E-mails related to student loans, chiropractic schools, and general questions regarding practicing the field of chiropractic have been hitting my inbox with greater frequency lately. My apologies to those that I have not had a chance to e-mail replies to. As I've done before, I prefer to address many of the questions as posts so that I can link to them when others ask questions in the future. Far more efficient on my part than to e-mail each person individually, since I too have a practice to maintain. Here's one selected from a group of e-mails I've been meaning to reply to.
Dear Dr. Dorausch
I am looking into a mid-life career change and am considering chiropractic. I have been an avid participant in chiropractic care, so I come by this interest from personal experience. My background is Registered Nurse, BSN, although I haven't practiced in 25 years, My most recent career, as a single parent, has been Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. An empty nester at 53, I'm feeling the urge for change. I wondered if you could send some ideas/suggestions my way about such a career change at this "(st)age" in my life!
For instance, do you know of any programs where my BSN could reduce the time and course work needed for DC?
Is it crazy to change careers at this point, with more education (and cost) involved?
Do I have enough recoup years left, barring any unexpected illness or tragedy, to make the financial commitment worthwhile, advantageous?
Thank you for your consideration and time.
First of all, I don't think that considering chiropractic as a career for empty-nesters is out of the ordinary, especially when one has a history with chiropractic care. While I believe the majority of chiropractic students that were in my graduating class were in their early to late 20s, there were several in their 30s, a few in their 40s, those in their 50s, and at least one in their 60s.
I honestly don't know what kind of experience it would be since I went to school in my late 20s and chiropractic was pretty much my first real career choice (excluding things like becoming a rock star and touring the United States). I don't personally know of any programs where coursework can be reduced but that's something best handled by talking to people in chiropractic school admissions departments. I would contact at least four different chiropractic schools and speak to someone in admissions to answer that question. Ask them if coursework you took to become a registered nurse can be used towards getting your chiropractic degree. I'd like to know the answer to that as well. (For those of you reading this; I would do the same if you had veterinary training, medical training, or other training in the field of healthcare).
Crazy to change careers at this point? Nobody will ultimately have the answer to that question but you. I imagine an overwhelming number of people saying that it would be crazy to consider chiropractic school at this point, since you already have a degree in something else, and the cost associated with getting a DC education can easily increase one's financial burdens. But I'm a pie-in-the-sky kind of guy, and I usually do the opposite of what the masses suggest.
We have situations like my first chiropractor, who chose chiropractic as a second career, after being a musician, and was not in practice until he was in his mid-50s. He's an excellent chiropractor that is still in practice today and he was part of the motivation that got me moving on the path towards chiropractic school for myself. It's not the norm, but he apparently pulled it off, and prospered financially and emotionally as a result.
Before making an investment in chiropractic as a secondary career I would strongly recommend doing two things at minimum (especially for those of you that don't have existing experience in chiropractic). Attend a New Beginnings Chiropractic Weekend in New Jersey (call Dr. Jim Dubel 732-571-4000 and tell him you're thinking about becoming a chiropractor) and/or make plans to attend a LIFforce weekend in Atlanta Georgia (tell them the same), and that you are considering chiropractic as a career.
I have met nurses that have become chiropractors (I know a few in California) and they have done spectacular work in the field. In my experience, nurses tend to have a realistic view of how the healthcare world actually works. They are less caught up in the polarized medicine versus holism arguments and are typically more focused on serving their patients, rather than their egos.
You won't have more answers unless you make some calls, and I honestly can't give you the ultimate answer, I only have my experience. Perhaps make a list for your brain, whether it be positive or negative, and make a list for your heart. Write everything down on that list in columns and move the things that are most important to you at the top.
Chiropractic school is not inexpensive and it's not easy. The coursework is difficult, the hours are long, and while you're in school it may seem like a lifetime before you'll be out as a graduate and practicing in the field. In my personal experience it's a journey that's well worth it.
If you missed it, here is a list of chiropractic schools in the United States, pick one that might be near you and visit the campus. Talk to students, talk to faculty, and talk to administration. If you approach the field as if you would when buying a first house, and you do solid research, you'll have a far greater understanding and will more likely make rational choices.
Regardless of what you choose, I'm wishing you all the best!