A Chiropractor’s Education Never Ends!


[originally published in KCN, September 1997]

Ever wonder what sort of educational training your local chiropractor had to complete to hang his or her shingle out?  Every once in while I’ll get this inquiry; however, I know more of my patients probably are just as curious.

Many people are surprised to find out that chiropractic education is every bit as comprehensive as is medical education.

Like other types of doctors, our education begins with a rigorous course of undergraduate studies with a heavy emphasis on tchiropractic-education-2he basic sciences.    The fledgling chiropractic student-to-be then chooses among the 26 chiropractic colleges [18 chiropractic colleges in the United States and 8 in six foreign countries] and embarks upon a 4 year post-graduate curriculum.  In addition to the extensive classroom and lab work, each chiropractic student must complete a period of internship (approximately 900 hours)  during which the student cares for patients under the close supervision of instructors.  Following graduation, as the new doctor awaits licensing tests, he or she will often be involved in an externship in which a practicing chiropractor is assisted and observed.

To better illustrate just how closely chiropractic and medical educations compare in the classroom’s basic science arena, refer to the table.  This particular table was taken out of the Parker Chiropractic College Admissions Directory.  The class hours for basic science comparisons were compiled and averaged following a review of curricula of 18 chiropractic colleges and 22 medical schools, based on the 1988-89 Association of American Medical Colleges Curriculum.



Don’t let this table fool you,  the two educations do have their differences.  While medical students are busy studying pharmacology and surgery, chiropractic students are learning to adjust the spine.  Chiropractic students are also given additional training in anatomy, nutrition, diagnosis, palpation, and  X-ray.   Once outside of the classroom  medical students will endure an additional two to three thousand hospital hours (considerably more if they choose to specialize).  Chiropractors, by contrast, will log in 900 hours in the out-patient college clinics and a variable amount in outside practice externships.

After all that, the chiropractic student is granted the Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Before beginning practice, however, a chiropractor must  pass a rigorous battery of National Board Examinations.  In addition, he or she must then pass an even more difficult State Board Examination consisting of practicals, interviews, and jurisprudence in the state he or she is seeking a license.  Providing that all these tests are passed with proficiency, then and only then, can the chiropractor commence practicing the science, art, and philosophy of chiropractic.

But wait!  It doesn’t stop there.  As with all health professions, a chiropractic education never ends!  Continuing education on specific topics is required for annual license renewal.   Virtually every doctor attends seminars, scientific symposia, and reads professional journals to keep up with the latest research and to provide his or her patients with the best care possible.

I encourage you to learn more about chiropractic.  Seek out your local chiropractor.  Ask questions.  He or she is well-trained and ready to help.

Explore posts in the same categories: chiropractic 101, education

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