Have you ever heard of the specialist doctor, Chiropractor? We bet most of you generally refer them as physiotherapist or muscular doctors. But in reality, they play a very important role in many individuals’ lives. Chiropractors are doctors who treat muscular and skeletal problems, especially those surrounding the spine, i.e. neck and back. They emphasize the treatment of neuromuscular disorders through manual adjustment and/or manipulation of the spine. Chiropractors’ treatments are considered an alternative to medicines. They use a very unique medical procedure to cure and relieve pains without causing any side-effects. This is why they are currently in-demand and are one of the highest paying professionals in the medical realm.
If you wish to pursue a career in chiropractic medicine, read this post and find out how to become a chiropractor doctor.
Who is a Chiropractor
Chiropractors relieve and cure pain for people suffering from back pain who seek alternatives to medication. Back pain can cause due to various reasons, such as accidents, sports injury, exercise, muscle strains,etc. Chiropractors also provide treatment for other types of pains, including neck pain, leg pain, and shoulder pain.
Chiropractors focus on treating muscular problems caused by the spine and nervous system. They manipulate the spine through a manual adjustment to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients. These doctors also instruct patients how to live a healthier life via exercise, ergonomics, and other therapies to prevent and treat back pains. Their treatment works on two beliefs, namely:
- Chiropractic treatment can restore the spine structure and reduce pressure on sensitive neurological tissues, both of which can consequently improve the health of individuals.
- Structural and biomechanical derangement of the spine can affect the human nervous system.
As a Chiropractic doctor, you will use your hands to manipulate the spinal cord, along with providing other alternative treatments to align patients’ bodies’ musculoskeletal structure, such as the spine. Natural alignment of spine promotes healing of the body without medication and surgery. You will manipulate the musculoskeletal structure to restore the mobility of joints that are restricted due to tissue damage caused by trauma, including sitting without support.
Your primary duty would be to relieve pain caused in muscles, joints, bones, and connective tissues. Patients who do not want conventional medical treatments will seek your help. If you truly believe that the body has the ability to heal itself without any invasive treatments, you definitely should consider becoming a chiropractor doctor.
Job Duties of Chiropractors
You will be focusing on the patient’s overall health and work on the belief that misalignment of spinal joints can damage the patient’s neuromuscular system and consequently lower resistance to diseases.
- Assess the patient’s medical condition by reviewing their medical records
- Listen to the patients’ complaints carefully and perform physical examinations on them
- Observe and analyze patients’ posture, reflexes, and body language
- Order for tests, such as blood tests and x-rays to evaluate patients’ spinal posture
- Review tests to identify a specific health problem
- Provide neuro-musculoskeletal therapy by adjusting or manipulating patients’ spinal column using bare hands
- Provide allied treatments, including acupuncture, physiotherapy, and hot and cold press depending upon the patients’ injured areas
- Refer patients to other doctors, such as reflexologist, physiotherapist, neurologist,etc. for further treatment if needed
- Instruct patients on the prevention of illnesses and maintaining good health, such as exercises, sleep postures, diet, etc.
- Use other procedures to accelerate healing, including massage therapy, rehabilitative exercise, and ultrasound
- In addition to the usual treatment, apply support to promote comfort movement in patients, such as braces, shoe inserts, support bands, etc.
Most Chiropractors practice general chiropractic. However, if you wish to accelerate your growth and gain additional certification in the field, you can choose to specialize in a specific area like neurology, pediatric, sports, orthopedics, trauma, geriatric, and nutrition. You can either work in hospitals and physician’ offices or start your own private practice.
You will be on your feet for long periods to examine and treat patients. Therefore, you must also take care of your muscles. You can work full-time or part-time based on your convenience.
Steps to Become a Chiropractor
Step 1: Earn a GED or Graduate from High School
The basic educational requirement to become a chiropractor is passing high school or equivalent General Education Development (GED). You will be qualified for the four-year institution thereafter.
In your junior year, you must start preparing for the SAT, the required standardized test for medical colleges. You should apply to more than one college or university to keep your options open. The SAT is a kind of entrance exam that makes you a suitable candidate for higher studies. The requirement for SAT varies from state to state and country to country. The name of the standard test may also differ.
Step 2: Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
You must first complete at least three years of undergraduate education or 90 credits of undergraduate coursework in order to apply to a Doctoral degree program. While there are states that do not require a bachelor’s degree to become a licensed chirographer, having an undergraduate degree will open ways to many other careers optionsrelated to the field. You must study both arts and science courses in your bachelor’s years, including biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Additional education in communication, sociology, and interpersonal skills will help you in this profession for a long period.
Step 3: Complete your Doctoral Degree Program
Once you finish your bachelor’s degree, you must prepare yourself for earning the important Doctor of Chiropractic Degree (D.C.). You must see that you apply to a college that is accredited by the Council of Chiropractic Education (CCE). This is going to be a 4-year degree course which is given out only by a very few colleges in the USA. In the first two years, you will study subjects related to medical science, such as physiology, anatomy, microbiology, biology, pharmacology, and other subjects in the classroom.
In the final two years, you will study specific subjects related to chiropractic in detail, including diagnoses, chiropractic physiology,etc. You will also receive clinical training in spinal manipulation and diagnosis. Specific courses that are taught on chiropractic technique include chiropractic biophysics, spinal biomechanics, extremity adjustment techniques, and instrument-assisted systems.
In the final year, you must complete an internship at a chiropractic practice or clinic to develop manipulation and diagnosis skills in real-time. You will also be allowed to implement your skills in practice under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor.
We recommend you to complete a residency program in a hospital or clinic or shadow a licensed chiropractor if you wish to gain relevant experience in a particular specialty, such as neurology.
Step 4: Obtain Your Practicing License
The standard requirement to obtain a practice license for chiropractic in all states is passing a certification examination. However, the specific requirements to licensure differ from state to state. The series of certification examination can be both national and regional. Contact your state’s education administrative center and find out what is required to obtain the license to chiropractic. However, make sure you obtain the license in the state you wish to practice your knowledge. Moving to a new state may require recertification. You may also have to go through residency and earn continuing education credits after graduating from a chiropractic university before you can take the licensure examination.
The NBCE Test
The examination is a four-part test, where the fourth part is optional. The test is administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. The test provides both written and practical questions and is designed to evaluate your comprehensive knowledge in the field.
Each part examination is taken during different phases of the student’s respective program. There is no need to complete all four parts together. Part one and part two cover six basic science and six clinical subjects respectively. Partone has to be taken in the middle of students’ respective program, while the part two exam has to be taken around the time when students intern in a clinic or hospital.
Partthree covers case history, physical examination,and special studies, and can be taken only after you clear the part one successfully.
The part four exam tests candidates’ ability in chiropractic technique and case management skills. You can take this examination when you are just six months away from graduation and are in the clinical phase. You can only take the examination if you clear the part one successfully.
In most states, candidates must score a minimum of46% in respective part examinations to qualify for the next test. The test parts one and two are together considered as one whole part. So, you must clear 4 out of 6 sectional tests to pass the examination as a whole. However, to be licensed, you must clear all the sections on all the parts and rank among the top scorers. The passing score differs from state to stare. For instance, in North Carolina, the passing score for licensure is 60% on part four examination.
The NBCE also administers tests for candidates who want to specialize in two electives in chiropractic – physiotherapy (PT) and acupuncture.
However, the physiotherapy test can be taken only after you complete 120 hours of PT course and the acupuncture test can be taken upon completion of 100 hours of course work through a chiropractic college or any other accredited program.
Step 5: Find Jobs
You can work full-time, part-time, start your own practice, or work for healthcare facilities. Just like physiotherapists and psychiatrists, you can set your own hours of practice and treatment. Chiropractors are rarely ushered for medical urgencies or treating critical patients. So, you can fix your working hours on your own terms.
That being said, remember that a career in the medical realm is a career devoted to patients and the public. You have to work for the welfare of your patients primarily and keep everything second in line, including your comfort.
You must be physically in shape to practice on feet for hours together. However, the demand for chiropractic treatment largely depends upon the patients’ ability to pay for the treatment. Thanks to the Affordable Care Law, the number of chiropractic jobs is supposedly to increase by almost 28% by 2020 end. This means the profession has one of the fastest growth rates for jobs.
Step 5: Choose to Specialize
Once you obtain your licensure, consider specializing in a particular area to increase the number of your job prospects. You can specialize in sports, geriatrics, pediatrics, and trauma. By this way, you can combine two specialties, such as neuropathy with chiropractic procedure to treat patients seeking to undergo treatments for nervous system issues and back pain conditions without surgery or invasive medicine.
You can also participate in community outreach programs to increase public awareness about chiropractic treatments and benefits.
Step 6: Continue Your Education and Practice
You must continue your education and clinical practice to maintain your licensure and renew it annually. In order to continue education, many chiropractors attend workshops and events and participate in various programs to learn about the developments in chiropractic medicine. You could follow their footsteps and enhance your knowledge base. To add more to your practice, you can also study naturopathy, massage, and other alternative medicines.
In addition to medical practice, you must hone additional skills and qualities to become successful in this field. They include decision making skills to determine best treatment course for a particular disorder; empathy skills to understand people in pain and respond to their complaints with sympathy and care; interpersonal skills to network with clients and communicate with them effectively; eye for details to pay attention to minute details so to avoid mistakes while diagnosing problems and developing plans.
You must show dexterity for you will be using your bare hands to treat people by adjusting their spinal column. Therefore, good reflexes, and great hand and eye coordination are very important skills for this profession’s success.
For more information regarding this career, join our discussion in comments below.