Chiropractors focus on a patients’ overall health and care for patients with health problems of the neuromusculoskeletal system, which includes nerves, bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. They use spinal adjustments and manipulation, as well as other clinical interventions, to manage patients’ health concerns, such as back and neck pain. Beyond operating a general chiropractic practice, some chiropractors specialize in areas such as sports, neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, or nutrition, among others. Chiropractors in private practice are responsible for marketing their businesses, hiring staff, and keeping records. To become a chiropractor, you must earn a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree by completing an accredited four-year chiropractic college program, pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners and/or other state-required examinations and complete any additional state-specific licensing requirements.
Chiropractors typically do the following:
- Assess a patient’s medical condition by reviewing the patient’s medical history and concerns, and by performing a physical examination
- Analyze the patient’s posture, spine, and reflexes
- Conduct tests, including evaluating a patient’s posture and taking x rays
- Provide neuromusculoskeletal therapy, which often involves adjusting a patient’s spinal column and other joints
- Give additional treatments, such as applying heat or cold to a patient’s injured areas
- Advise patients on health and lifestyle issues, such as exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits
- Refer patients to other healthcare professionals if needed
- Decision making skills: Chiropractors must determine the best course of action when treating a patient. They must also decide when to refer patients to other healthcare professionals.
- Dexterity: Because they use their hands to perform manual adjustments to the spine and other joints, chiropractors should have good coordination to perform therapy effectively.
- Detail oriented: Chiropractors must be observant and pay attention to details so that they can make proper diagnoses and avoid mistakes that could harm patients.
- Empathy: Chiropractors often care for people who are in pain. They must be understanding and sympathetic to their patients’ problems and needs.
- Interpersonal skills: Chiropractors must be personable in order to keep clients coming to their practice. Also, because chiropractors frequently touch patients in performing therapy, they should be able to put their patients at ease.
- Organizational skills: Self-employed chiropractors may need to schedule appointments, manage employees, bill insurance companies, and maintain patients’ files. Good recordkeeping and other organizational skills are critical in running a successful business.
Learn more about Chiropractic Medicine:
Most chiropractic programs require that applicants have at least 3 years of undergraduate education, and an increasing number require a bachelor’s degree. Chiropractor programs typically requires a minimum of 24 credits in the life and physical sciences, half of which must have a substantive lab component. This is a list of common Chiropractor program prerequisites and the Kalamazoo College course equivalents. The course prerequisites vary across programs. This list does not include all courses that may be required by Chiropractic programs. Additionally, schools have differing policies for accepting AP/IB credits to fulfill prerequisites. Students are responsible for verifying the prerequisite coursework and policies of the schools to which they plan to apply.
Helpful resources include the Association of Chiropractic College’s information for prospective students and individual school websites.
* BIOL 123 while this course is not a chiropractic school requirement, we strongly recommend BIOL 123 to first-year students, as it includes physiology and is required for the Biology major.
** BIOL 222 and *** BIOL 376 may not meet the admissions criteria of your intended program. If the program you are preparing for has prerequisites that K College doesn’t offer, most commonly human anatomy and physiology, you may take them at Western Michigan University under our inter-institutional enrollment arrangement. Please contact the Registrar’s office a K College for the policy, procedure, and forms. This is done on a space-available basis so plan ahead and make your arrangements early. The cost is included in your K tuition and the grades will appear on your K transcript and be calculated into your K GPA.
GPA and Extracurricular Experience
Most chiropractic schools require a minimum GPA of 3.0 and no grade below a C in the prerequisite courses. Apart from meeting GPA and prerequisite requirements, some chiropractic schools may require letters of recommendation, a personal statement and/or an in-person interview. Experience in the form of job shadowing and/or volunteering is always a plus. As with other health professions, chiropractor programs are looking for well-rounded applicants.
Most chiropractic schools do not require an entrance exam, but you should check with each individual school of interest to confirm specific policies.
Chiropractic programs generally award a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Accredited programs are traditionally four years in length.
Factors to consider:
- Admission requirements: The prerequisite coursework and clinical experience requirements vary widely between each program. Determine where you’re eligible to apply based on the coursework you’ve completed or will complete before matriculation and the number of clinical hours required.
- Location: Urban vs. rural setting, proximity to family, recreational opportunities, cost of living, etc.
- Mission Statements: You should look for schools with mission statements that fit with your own goals.
- Curriculum: Seek out information about the curriculum and consider how it fits with your learning style.
- Cost: Consider tuition and type of financial aid available
Most Chiropractic programs have rolling deadlines, though students are encouraged to apply between six months and one year before their desired start term. There is no central application service, most chiropractic school applications are found on individual school websites. If you are applying to multiple schools, you will have to fill out separate applications.
After submitting the application, students may receive interview offers any time in the year preceding matriculation. Not all Chiropractic programs require an interview as part of the application process, but for the ones that do, the interview is a very important element in the application process. When a school invites you to an interview, they are indicating an interest in selecting you. The interview gives both of you the opportunity to exchange information to determine if you are a good “fit” for each other.
Schools use personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as self-confidence, interpersonal skills, and ability to overcome challenges. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in Chiropractic Medicine and the experiences that have motivated you.