As news of the opioid epidemic spreads, so does interest in chiropractic care and the natural, drug-free relief it offers those suffering from chronic pain. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we’re up to the task; the number of doctors of chiropractic is expected to grow 10 percent by 2026. With this growth comes questions, including exactly what qualifies a doctor of chiropractic to perform manipulations and adjustments of the musculoskeletal system.
While most doctors of chiropractic are not medical doctors – though some family physicians, realizing the benefit of chiropractic care, also receive a chiropractic degree – their road to a degree takes a similar path. Like M.D.s, they begin with an undergraduate pre-med curriculum that includes science courses such as biology, chemistry, and physics. A minimum of 90 semester hours are required, with many chiropractic programs now requiring a bachelor’s degree.
From there, the undergraduates apply to one of several four-year post-graduate programs offered in campuses around the country, most accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education. A minimum of 4,200 hours of study includes classwork and lab time in everything from anatomy, physiology and biochemistry to pediatric and geriatric care, and 1,000 hours of clinical internships. It is not unusual for many to pursue a dual degree with studies in business management as well.
Once finished, the students must pass all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exams and receive certification from their state licensing agency before going into practice. And it doesn’t stop there; states require proof of continuing education to maintain their license.
Many pursue post-doctoral coursework as well, earning diplomate credentials in specialties such as veterinary and sports chiropractic care.
The stringent evaluation of chiropractic care candidates has led to increased consumer confidence and higher usage rates than years past. It also means that most insurance policies and a growing number of employers also cover chiropractic care today.
So, how do you find a qualified doctor of chiropractic? Asking friends and family for referrals is a start; also available are Find-A-Doctor directories such as the one offered by the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. And now that you know the education behind the title, you know you’re in good hands!