Being a student at a chiropractic college can seem like a juggling act on its own. When you mix in family, work, social activities, eating, sleeping and other commitments, completing years of postgraduate education might look like a feat for an organizational guru. The truth is that it’s possible to receive an education and have a life. When you understand the time commitment required of you at chiropractic school, you’ll be better prepared to make the necessary adjustments to your routine.
Sample Chiropractic College Schedule
To earn a Doctorate of Chiropractic degree, you’ll complete about eight months of classroom work per year for almost three and a half years as a full-time student. Examples of classes that you’ll complete cover topics such as:
One of the most important decisions that a chiropractic graduate may face is whether to open a private practice or work as an associate in a clinic. While there isn’t a simple one-size-fits-all solution, there is good news. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2014 and 2024, employment for chiropractors will grow by 17 percent, which is much faster than average thanks to the growing number of patients seeking complementary health care. This means that whichever route you choose, you’ll likely be successful. By knowing what to consider when making this important decision, you’ll pursue your professional objectives with greater confidence.
Career Options for Doctor of Chiropractic Graduates
Working as an Associate
When you work as an associate in a health-care setting, you’re a non-owner employee. Today, chiropractors have the opportunity to associate in a chiropractic practice, a multi-disciplinary clinic, a hospital, or a corporate clinic. While you have some autonomy in regards to patient treatment, you’re not your own boss, nor do you bear the responsibilities of ownership. However, you may gain the opportunity to purchase an ownership interest in the practice.
In 2011, the National Institutes of Health reported that 76 million individuals in the United States live with chronic pain. Of the adults who have pain, over 60 percent have had it for over a year. The most common types of pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are neck pain, lower back pain, and severe headaches or migraines. When patients visit traditional physicians about their pain, there is a good chance they’ll receive a prescription for non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or opioids, or triptans for headaches. While these solutions might bring some relief, they’re not the only option available. Many find that chiropractic care, paired with exercise and other lifestyle adjustments, help treat the underlying cause of pain and allow the body to heal.
Possible Effects of Prescription Painkillers
Exploring natural options for pain management, such as chiropractic techniques, is a worthwhile pursuit, as prescription drugs pose the risk of dangerous side effects. The Cleveland Clinic, for example, states that painkillers decrease pain perception. This is troublesome because the body depends on pain signals to alert you to ailments and injuries. Other side effects related to pain medication include:
Every healing encounter hinges on trust. Patients must believe their doctor will do what’s best for them.
To preserve that trust, most medical fields have developed a code of ethics to guide practitioners’ behavior and preserve the profession’s reputation.
“The two most basic and important features of every profession are control over a specialized body of knowledge and a commitment to use this knowledge for good,” says chiropractic author David Byfield, D.C “This matters because our patients, and their loved ones, trust us to meet their healthcare needs in a caring, competent and safe environment. We do this for the greater good of society.”
Chiropractic is no exception. Researchers within the profession have labored to conduct cutting-edge studies that demonstrate chiropractic’s value to the medical community as well as to the public—and they’ve made great strides. A recent study conducted by Palmer and Gallup found that more than half of U.S. adults feel positively toward chiropractors, while 52 percent find chiropractors trustworthy and 63 percent agree they have patients’ best interests in mind.
When we’re seeking relief from persistent back pain, most of us start with a visit to a primary care doctor, who might prescribe painkillers or muscle relaxers before referring us to a chiropractor or other specialist.
Each year, between 12 and 14 percent of U.S. adults will visit a physician for back pain. All in all, musculoskeletal complaints account for 10 to 15 percent of all visits to primary care physicians—and they’re only expected to grow as an increasing percentage of the population becomes elderly and more prone to back or joint problems.
As a result, “the United States faces a growing shortage of primary care providers,” says the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care. To help relieve the burden on primary care physicians, it recommends more patients rely on their chiropractors (among other alternative health-care providers) for primary care.
In fact, chiropractors are “already frequently accessed by significant numbers of people as their first-choice, primary provider of care,” the consortium said.
Of all patients in need of chiropractic treatment, U.S. military veterans might need it the most.
Simply walking around in heavy combat gear gives rise to all kinds of musculoskeletal injuries, and chronic pain afflicts 44 percent of military personnel who have been deployed for combat, compared to just 26 percent of the general population. Veterans also use prescription painkillers at a much higher rate—15 percent, compared to 4 percent of the general public.
Chiropractic care can be a lifesaver for ailing veterans, treating the root cause of chronic pain by providing a safer, non-drug alternative.. In addition to easing back pain, a chiropractor can help alleviate neck pain, pain from accidents or injuries, muscle spasms, headaches, sciatica, pinched nerves, PTSD, traumatic brain injury and more.
Although federal policy requires veterans to have access to chiropractic care, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) hasn’t yet made the services widely available. In fact, although the VA provides chiropractic care at roughly 40 of its major treatment centers throughout the nation, it still has failed to provide chiropractic treatment at 120 of its other major medical facilities. As a result, veterans, like those profiled in this article from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, report waiting up to two months to see their VA’s only chiropractor.
Chiropractors wear many hats within their communities.
As healers, they treat patients and collaborate with other healthcare practitioners. As business owners, they help support their local economies. And as advocates for their profession, they have a responsibility to educate the public about the benefits of chiropractic care.
Traditional doctors believe the body needs outside help to heal—usually in the form of drugs or surgery.
Holistic healers, on the other hand, believe in the body’s ability to heal itself. They seek to support this process through natural means, such as removing blockages and restoring balance to create optimal healing conditions. They strive to treat the underlying causes of illness, rather than the symptoms.
In today’s world it’s easy to find things to stress about.
Pressure on the job, money difficulties, health crises, relationship troubles, media overload and many other environmental factors can weigh on us. We also generate stress internally, with poor nutrition and sleep deprivation.
Every chiropractor sees patients who’ve been ravaged by chronic stress. More than three-fourths of Americans regularly endure its physical symptoms, and one third characterize their stress levels as “extreme.”
Military service takes a heavy toll on the body.
U.S. veterans experience chronic pain at a much higher rate than the rest of the population—44 percent complain of recurring pain, compared to 26 percent of the general public. Their rate of opioid use is nearly four times as high.
“Many of them are at risk for a lifetime progression of increasing disability unless the quality, variety and accessibility of evidenced-based ‘self-management’ skills are improved,” reports JAMA Internal Medicine. “Without more effective and less costly approaches to pain management, the estimated costs of care and disability to the country will approach $5 trillion.”