The process of becoming a chiropractor begins with an undergraduate education. Some chiropractic schools require a Bachelor’s degree before matriculation, while others require a minimum of three years’ worth of college credits. Either way, it is important that a future applicant to chiropractic school maintains a high GPA and demonstrates proficiency in a number of courses relevant to the health sciences. Courses that utilize both a lecture and lab component such as general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biology are all prerequisite classes for chiropractic school admission.
The next step may seem obvious—in order to obtain a doctorate of chiropractic degree, one must graduate from an accredited chiropractic college. There are eighteen chiropractic programs in the United States alone, enrolling a total of ten thousand students, according to the American Chiropractic Association. Four years of education at a chiropractic school include a minimum of 4,200 hours of instruction and training, very similar to the amount of training received at allopathic and osteopathic medical schools. Chiropractic students also spend a significant amount of time (at least one year) gaining hands-on clinical experience.
Certification and Licensure
In order to practice as a chiropractor in the United States, one must pass a series of examinations throughout their educational years. These exams, designed and provided by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), ensure that a student has gained adequate knowledge and sufficient practical skill in order to succeed in the practice of caring for patients. Since exam scores from all four parts of the certification process are made available to licensing authorities, these NBCE exams uphold a standard of care and maintain accountability within the field. After obtaining a degree, new graduates must obtain a license in the state in which they choose to practice.
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Even after obtaining a doctorate of chiropractic degree, a chiropractor’s education never truly stops. With new medical advances always on the horizon, continuing education requirements ensure that chiropractors are kept up to date on the best ways to treat their patients. From start to finish, the road to becoming a practicing chiropractor is rigorous but also rewarding.
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