How much education is needed to be licensed as a Doctor of Chiropractic?
Although the specific entrance requirements vary for each of the 17 U.S. and 16 International Chiropractic Colleges, most entering students already have an undergraduate degree in pre-med or the biological sciences. The curriculum is set by the Council on Chiropractic Education, an accrediting agency associated with the U.S. Department of Education. It includes about 4820 hours of study over a period of 4 years, roughly equivalent to medical schools which average 4670 hours. The chiropractic education has an emphasis on anatomy, physiology, diagnosis, nutrition, neurology, orthopedics and physical rehabilitation, along with manual adjusting techniques. Chiropractors become proficient in laboratory work, and must have a basic knowledge of pharmacology in order to spot problems caused by inappropriate prescription drug use. (Chiropractors are not yet licensed to either prescribe or take a person off their drugs, but can advise patients on how to speak with their medical doctor about viable alternatives.) Some chiropractors study for an additional two years to become certified in post graduate specialties such as neurology, radiology, internal diagnostics and sports medicine to name a few.
The chiropractic education includes significant clinical time to practice diagnostic and adjusting skills. As a junior, my first patients were from the freshman class. After “practicing” on those poor souls, we were unleashed on the general public in the Senior Outpatient Clinics where we further refined our skills and gained the confidence to “go forth and heal”. As a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) we are required to attend at least 20 hours of continuing education each year. Many chiropractors like myself attend many more hours than that, and passionately follow a personal curriculum for skill development throughout their career.