You’d be right to be excited about becoming a chiropractor. The ongoing opioid crisis has provided many lessons about depending too much on pharmaceutical-based pain management. Plus, evidence-based research and changing healthcare guidelines point to first using conservative care whenever appropriate.
Did you know the 160,000-member American College of Physicians (ACP), in its clinical practice guideline, recommends physicians and patients seek first to treat acute or subacute low back pain with non-drug therapies? These options include superficial heat, massage, acupuncture, or spinal manipulative therapy.
More than 90% of spinal manipulation in the U.S. is conducted by doctors of chiropractic in the form of a spinal manual adjustment. In simple terms, when a D.C. adjusts dysfunctional segments and restores appropriate spinal movement patterns, this contributes to more appropriate sensory input to the brain and spinal cord.
The dangers of opioids and increased awareness of care options by specialists are among the reasons the Bureau of Labor Studies anticipates a 10% growth for the chiropractic profession over the next 10 years.
Getting into and through chiropractic college, however, isn’t easy. That’s why having a plan for success is essential.
The chiropractic college curriculum is fast-paced and intense. The challenges of that 3.5-year journey to a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree sometimes surprise students who flew through undergraduate school with relatively little trouble. Packed into the curriculum are 4,200 clock hours of classes, instruction, lab time, and internship experiences.
Chiropractic students, in addition to their supervised patient care experience through senior internships, have the opportunity to provide care in community outreach clinics, and in Veterans Care facilities.
Item #1: Be Prepared
According to the Council of Chiropractic Education (CCE), the minimum entry requirement for admission to chiropractic college is at least 90 hours of undergraduate study, typically focused on human biology, biology, pre-med, kinesiology, or exercise science/physiology.
Many chiropractic students already have an undergraduate degree; others take advantage of a degree plan where they complete science prerequisites and earn a B.S. degree concurrently with their D.C. degree. (Here’s one example of a concurrent B.S./D.C. degree plan.)
Of the 90 minimum hours to apply, the CCE expects at least 24 semester hours in life and physical science courses, and different chiropractic colleges may have specific course requirements. The science courses fulfilling the 24 semester hours will provide an adequate background for success in the DCP, with at least half of these courses having a substantive laboratory component.
Another standard the CCE sets is that students have a 3.00 cumulative GPA in their college courses. One chiropractic and health sciences university whose graduates continually score in the top tier of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) exams has an incoming student GPA average of 3.27.
Becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic will require your best academic efforts in addition to achieving clinical competency in patient care.
Item #2: Realize the Comprehensiveness of Chiropractic Care
Such rigorous expectations can be intimidating. Still, those who’ve always dreamed of helping people live a healthier life can, and do, succeed in chiropractic college. You do, however, need to have the right attitude and plenty of determination.
Many doctors of chiropractic chose the profession after benefiting from the care of a DC. Frustrated by traditional treatments, they found the answers to pain or injury they were looking for through chiropractic. (Read the story of Dr. Jon Petrick, for example.)
The chiropractic perspective sees health and well-being as an expression of biological, psychological, and social factors. Chiropractic philosophy emphasizes a non-pharmaceutical approach to patient care, which can be a combination of
Like any other healthcare practitioner, a doctor of chiropractic will refer patients to medical doctors or other specialists when in the patient’s best interest.
Item #3: Start Preparing Early
Of course, academic preparation is always the best plan. While in high school, take Advanced Placement (AP) classes and summer science courses. Seek a shadowing experience with a chiropractor in your area and see their approach to patient care.
Some students interested in chiropractic begin conversations with an admissions advisor and apply to chiropractic college as early as their first or second year of undergraduate study. Making this decision as early as possible, and working directly with an advisor, will be helpful in choosing prerequisite courses that will best prepare you for the rigors of the chiropractic curriculum.
Are you unsure if you’ve had the necessary prerequisite science courses…or if your college GPA is sufficient to apply? You should know that some chiropractic colleges have alternative admissions plans that allow determined, talented students to succeed.
Checklist Item #4: Find an Expert to Lead the Way
Motivated students who desire a chiropractic education should schedule time with an admissions advisor. Let them be your guide to success.
And if you’re curious about how to choose a chiropractic college? Here’s a blog that outlines what you should look for.
The CUKC campus, now including our College of Health Sciences and our College of Chiropractic, is in Overland Park, Kansas, within the 15-county Kansas City metro area. Overland Park is a vibrant city of more than 195,000 residents that continues to receive awards for livability, family friendliness, and affordability.
Points of Distinction for CUKC
Find out why becoming a chiropractor is an excellent choice in today’s healthcare environment. When you connect with our academic advisors, you’ll get our free, newly updated eBook: Your Complete Guide to the Chiropractic Profession.