What is Chiropractic?

The Chiropractic Profession Today

In the past 30 years, recognition of chiropractic for spinal and musculoskeletal disorders is now firmly established worldwide. Chiropractic is the third largest primary health care profession after medicine and dentistry. There are about 50,000 registered chiropractors in the US, 850 in Japan, 5,000 in Canada, 2,500 in Australia, 1,000 in the UK, and 100-500 in each of the following countries – Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, New Zealand, and south Africa. We are also established in smaller numbers in virtually every other country.

It is commonly accepted that when governments have to make an important decision and generally don’t know what to do, they hold an inquiry. Government inquiries are long, and expensive, but they serve to collect the latest knowledge and ascertain the state and condition of whatever question is before them. There have been 8 formal government inquiries worldwide into the chiropractic profession in the past 28 years. All of these agencies reported several common findings.

  1. They found chiropractic health care to be safe, effective, efficient in what it does, and cost-effective for its results.
  2. They recommended complete licensure in their jurisdiction, recommended government funding in their respective national health care programs.
  3. They criticized the level of antagonism, which exists between chiropractic and medical care as being due to misinformation, prejudice and antipathy.
  4. They called for complete inter-professional cooperation in order to better to serve the public.

Education Requirements

What are the current educational requirements to be a doctor of chiropractic?  Educational requirements for doctors of chiropractic are among the most stringent of any of the health care professions.

The typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.

Doctors of chiropractic — who are licensed to practice in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and in many nations around the world — undergo a rigorous education in the healing sciences, similar to that of medical doctors. In some areas, such as anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition and public health, they receive more intensive education than their MD counterparts.

Like other primary health care doctors, chiropractic students spend a significant portion of their curriculum studying clinical subjects related to evaluating and caring for patients. Typically, as part of their professional training, they must complete a minimum of a one-year clinical-based program dealing with actual patient care. In total, the curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience. The course of study is approved by an accrediting agency which is fully recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. This has been the case for more than 25 years.

This extensive education prepares doctors of chiropractic to diagnose health care problems, treat the problems when they are within their scope of practice and refer patients to other health care practitioners when appropriate.

The chiropractic profession is growing and becoming more established with every passing year. The profession is now considered by many to be part of the mainstream of health care and no longer “an alternative therapy”. Indeed, to thousands of people, chiropractic is both a necessary and indispensable part of their lives.