How to Become a Chiropractor: A Comprehensive Approach

how to become a chiropractorHave you ever wondered what causes the sudden stabbing pain that occurs in the back or neck region when you stretch a certain way? Or perhaps you’ve been curious as to why you may experience acute neck pain after a bad night’s sleep? Well, these questions and many more fall under the expertise of medical professionals referred to as chiropractors. In the sections to follow, we will discuss what it is that a chiropractor does, the educational requirements that go into attaining a degree in this field, licensing requirements, and the chiropractor career path.

If you’re currently experiencing pain in the shoulder, neck or back pain and would like to learn about ways in which you can stop this discomfort from occurring, check out this course on five steps to prevent back pain.

What Does a Chiropractor Do?

Chiropractors are medical professionals who specialize in dealing with patients who have either mild or extensive pain in the neck, back, and muscle regions. The treatment method is often short term, ranging from one month at the shortest to three months at the longest. However, depending on the issue that the patient is dealing with, treatment may have to be lengthened. The goal of the chiropractor is to assist the patient in regaining control over his or her muscles and eliminating the pain that they have been feeling in each area. The most prominent cause of pain in the neck, back, and muscles is musculoskeletal issues, which can usually be resolved with a bit of effort on the part of both the physician and the patient.

Chiropractors make use of a variety of different tools and materials in order to relieve the pain felt by their patients. These include machinery designed to massage the muscles and joints, as well as technologies that aid in realignment of muscles. Appointments are often preceded by an x-ray given to the individual so that the physician can analyze the progress that has been made through the treatment method. These x-rays also allow chiropractors to determine if the patient would benefit more from a different treatment method.

This career path has experiences a considerable growth in job availability and is expected to continue its steady incline over the next few years. Careers in this field are often open to recent college graduates as well, which means that there is no waiting period for aspiring chiropractors; they can enter straight into their field of choice as soon as they receive their diploma.

To learn more about the reasons why pain occurs in the back, neck, and muscles, take a look at this course on understanding the mechanisms of pain.

It’s very important that a chiropractor possess high levels of interpersonal communication skills, since they will be working with patients on a daily basis. Also, bilingualism and business skills will be highly beneficial to any medical professional in this field.

Occupational Stigma

Over the past decade or so, the chiropractor career path has gained quite a bit of respect and authority. In previous generations, the general public’s view of the discipline was tinted with skepticism since the treatment options and processes were less medical in nature and appeared to align more accurately with pseudosciences, such as Astrology. Admittedly, there are still a few lingering chiropractors who operate under false pretenses, but the majority of the field is filled with legitimate medical professionals. As of recent, the medical community has begun to acknowledge that certain muscular disorders and pains of the back can, in fact, be treated through the use of non-surgical procedures. Nowadays, physicians often actually recommend patients see a chiropractor as opposed to seeking out surgical means of resolving an issue.

The reasoning behind this sudden emerging legitimacy can be traced to the increasingly advanced educational requirements and optimal effort that are now required in order to enter this field. Many laws and licensing requirements have been put in place over the past century to ensure that chiropractors are doing their jobs efficiently and correctly, as well as bringing about a decrease in pain in their patients. Many laws regarding chiropractors now demand that they attend school for as long as individuals entering doctoral and dentist career paths. The heavy emphasis placed on the medical aspects of the chiropractor’s work have forced professionals to eliminate their non-medically backed methods and focus on those that have been studied, researched, tested, and found to provide efficient results.

Education Requirements

Aspiring chiropractors must attain a high school diploma and bachelor’s degree before entering into a chiropractic program. However, the requirements of admittance to one of these exclusive programs ranges from school to school, so it is imperative that students start thinking about which school they’d like to attend while they are still striving for a bachelor’s degree. For example, some schools may require a certain extent of occupational experience before admittance.

  • Length of Schooling

The typical length of a chiropractic program is four years in addition to the four years required to attain a bachelor’s degree. However, depending on what school the student is planning on attending, how many credit hours per semester the school allows, and whether or not the student is willing to engage in summer semesters, the program may be either lengthened or shortened. One way to reduce the length of this program is by attaining either your bachelor’s degree or chiropractic degree online.

  • Cost of Degree

Depending on where you live and the level of prestige the school you’d like to attend holds, the cost of a chiropractic degree can vary dramatically. The most influential school prices often fall in the range of $90,000 to $100,000 for the entirety of the program, while the less prominent schools usually charge anywhere from $70,000 to $80,000 on average. Financial aid and student loans are often offered to all students in need, so if the schooling seems out of your price range, there is still a possibility that you could attend.

  • Choosing a School

School choice is perhaps the most important decision you will have to make once you’ve set out on your pursuit of a chiropractic degree. The best approach to this decision is making a list of schools that fall in your financial range and ranking them by your desire to attend. You should also research and take into account quality of professors and rate of post-graduation employment of former students before choosing.

  • Online vs. Campus

Though the general public may assume that there is a stigma associated with earning a degree online, employers tend to disagree with this assumption. For the most part, as long as you attended an accredited online university and earned a degree, employers will have no qualms in offering you a job.

State Licensing Requirements

In the chiropractic field, like many other medical and academic disciplines, a degree will not suffice when it comes to entering into a career in this field. In addition to your diploma, the state in which you are practicing will also require that you become gain licensure to be a chiropractor. This is attained through the successful completion of an examination given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. The exam includes four parts and results in the permission to practice in almost all of the states in the country. Part one focuses on general anatomy, spinal anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pathology, and microbiology. Part two concerns the diagnostic aspect of the field, such as general diagnosis, neuromusculoskeletal diagnosis, and diagnostic imaging. Part three concerns areas such as case history, physical examination, and supportive interventions. And finally, part four assesses knowledge in x-ray interpretation, chiropractic technique, and case management.

The Chiropractor Career Path

The majority of chiropractors work as self-employed and own their own clinics. Naturally, they typically hire a few others to work in their office as secretaries, nurses, or assistants. However, a few chiropractors can also be found in highly medical settings, such as hospitals, clinics, or private physician offices. These professionals often attain their patients from doctors with whom they work who recommend patients with back, neck, or muscle pains to see the chiropractor.

Salary

The salary of a chiropractor can vary quite a bit depending on factors such as location of the individual’s practice and length of time working in the field, but the typical annual salary falls between $40,000 and $67,000. The $40,000 mark refers to the typical salary of an entry-level chiropractor, while the latter number references the average profit gain that can be expected throughout the years working in this field. If you find this salary unacceptable and would like to find out more about ways in which you can persuade your employer to raise your earnings, check out this course on how to negotiate your salary. If you’d like to learn more about the methods recommended by medical professionals for muscular pain, take a look at this blog post on exercises for neck pain or this course on how you can heal your lower back pain.