There is a myth among the general population that the education obtained by a Doctor of Chiropractic is not on the same level as that of their Medical Doctor counterparts. The truth to this common question is yes, a Doctor of Chiropractic undergoes a rigorous and demanding professional education which is equivalent to any other healthcare providers. Chiropractic is recognized by a number of sources as the second largest health profession. As chiropractic continues its growth and continues to lose the “alternative” label as it becomes more and more mainstream, still many portions of the population are unaware of what it takes to become a Doctor of Chiropractic.
Before acceptance into an accredited college, a student must meet all necessary prerequisite requirements. A student must obtain nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate studies, focusing on biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, psychology and all associated lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, a chiropractic student completes 4-5 academic and professional years of study. Within these years, there are over 4200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical learning experiences. There is a focus on human anatomy and physiology, as well as many dedicated hours towards mastering the art of the hands-on chiropractic spinal adjustment. During the last year of schooling, chiropractic students must complete an internship seeing over 200 patients and working through many hours of clinical experience.
The main difference between a Chiropractic physician and their Medical Doctor counterparts is the focus of study while in their 3rd academic year. While a M.D. focuses on pharmacology and surgery, a D.C. partakes in a higher education of anatomy, physiology, nutrition, diagnosis, physical palpation, x-ray and manual adjusting techniques. Also, a Doctor of Chiropractic learns rehabilitative techniques at an in depth level. Other educational experiences include diagnosis, treatment within the scope of chiropractic care, and referrals to other health care practitioners when deemed necessary.
A significant portion of the chiropractic student’s curriculum focuses on clinical subjects relating to caring for and evaluating patients. There is a minimum of one year designated for the clinical based internship a chiropractic student must complete where they work with actual patients in a clinic located on the college’s campus.
Before being able to practice chiropractic, the future Doctor of Chiropractic must pass 4 National Board examinations and also pass any necessary examinations given by the individual state they wish to practice in. Once in practice, Doctors of Chiropractic are held to the same standards as all other healthcare professionals. They must adhere to strict state laws, scope of practices, and undergo the same types of testing, licensing, and monitoring by state and national peer reviewed boards. Every year, Doctors of Chiropractic must participate in a strict Continuing Education program in order to continue practicing.
Medical doctors treat patients using medicines and surgeries. When the disorder is a chemical problem, i.e. diabetes, hypothyroidism or infection, then medicines are the correct course of treatment. But most disorders can be linked back to the nervous system and are physical in nature. Doctors of Chiropractic provide physical solutions. Through adjustments, exercises, stretches, muscle therapies and lifestyle changes. Is there a spinal misalignment? Is there soft tissue damage? If so, there is no medicine that can correct those problems; they can only hide them, masking the true source of the problem. A Doctor of Chiropractic treats the cause, not the symptoms.