Most of us are no strangers to neck and back pain. And if you work in healthcare and are on your feet all day, it often feels (unfortunately) inevitable.
To make matters even sorer, stress can exacerbate your back pain while your back pain exacerbates your stress.
Enter chiropractors, who take non-invasive stances on bodily aches and an approach that they can fix most problems via spinal manipulation.
If you’re looking to know what a chiropractor is and how to become one yourself, read on. We’ll cover all the schooling, skills and tools you’ll need for a successful career.
What is a chiropractor?
Chiropractors are a popular alternative for any patient who’s nervous about prescription medication or undergoing surgery to fix a healthcare ailment. A doctor of chiropractic medicine helps their patients by adjusting their spines to treat back and neck pain and focusing on problems stemming from a misaligned musculoskeletal system. They often run their own private practice but can pair up with other qualified individuals to create a chiropractic treatment center.
Are chiropractors doctors? Not in the traditional sense. Chiropractic care focuses elsewhere than their medical counterparts but specialize in similar healthcare niches, including sports rehabilitation or orthopedic assistance.
A chiropractor’s daily tasks include:
- Meeting with patients to discuss their health concerns
- Assessing spinal posture, diagnosing issues and performing chiropractic adjustments
- Developing treatment plans for the musculoskeletal system, including home-based exercises
- Giving referrals to medical doctors for further treatment, if required
Can chiropractors prescribe medication?
Although chiropractors act in concert with doctors and perform tests like X-rays to help you diagnose your issues, they can’t prescribe pain medication. Some avoid over-the-counter recommendations altogether, too. Physical therapy and adjusting your range of motion to improve your overall health, however? That’s just what the chiropractor ordered.
A chiropractor’s salary isn’t usually as hefty as other health care providers, but they still earn a national average of $70,720 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
How to become a chiropractor
Choosing chiropractic health care as a medical career isn’t for everyone. Chiropractors aren’t physicians, and if you have your heart set on earning your stripes as a “capital D” hospital doctor, you’ll want to opt for the traditional route.
However, if you’re interested in alternative medicine, chiropractic education has its benefits.
You’ll learn everything you ever needed to know about spinal health and then some. You’ll learn about activators, how back pain can cause migraines and the all-important sciatica nerve. Despite their lack of “traditional” doctor qualities, chiropractors complete a similar length of schooling.
Here are the steps to becoming a chiropractor:
Complete your undergraduate studies
As is with any healthcare career, you’ll first need a bachelor’s degree. An undergraduate certification in the natural sciences or kinesiology will make a great foundation, alongside any electives useful to any healthcare professional, like math and chemistry.
Make sure to keep those grades on point—they’ll make your chiropractic school application all the more attractive—and don’t forget about our student discounts to help you with the cost of supplies, including scrubs.
Finish your certification at a chiropractic college
Are chiropractors physicians? Not exactly, but they study about the same amount of time. Overall, the educational process takes seven to eight years—roughly the same as a doctor.
After you apply to and are accepted into an accredited program, you must complete your training to gain your licensure from the American Chiropractic Association.
The amount of time you’ll spend in school can vary depending on electives or the acceleration courses you may take. However, a college education for chiropractic therapy takes an average of three to four years. While studying, you’ll need to choose an area of patient care to specialize in. You’ll have to pass several exams through the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners—some during your period of study and other afterward.
After passing those exams, you can use your license to practice chiropractic medicine. Luckily, you won’t need to complete a residency program like an MD, meaning you can jump right in.
The benefits of being a chiropractor
After you complete your final tests and receive your chiropractic license, you can begin to search for jobs at already-existing practices or start your own.
While some of us love the idea of working for ourselves, you should keep in mind that running a business is a job of its own. It involves a lot of planning and paperwork (not to mention the occasional headache when tax season rolls around). Also, an ample amount of supplies is always on the corporate shopping list, including premium but affordable scrubs for you and your staff.
Be sure you’re well-versed in entrepreneurship before putting your new company into practice, and if you don’t want to run your own business, you can find alternative career callings for those interested in chiropractic healthcare. For similar jobs, you might consider a career in:
- Physical therapy
- Athletic training
- Medical massage therapy
Choosing a healthcare career in chiropractic medicine
The alternative world of spine articulation is a unique field. Focusing on the sciatica nerve over surgery and musculoskeletal remedies over medicine may be a nontraditional approach to working in healthcare. Even so, these two sides of the proverbial coin of health have more in common than you might expect (like wearing scrubs).
Keep that appearance looking presentable and your posture posed!