Chiropractic is a holistic health care discipline that focuses on promoting correct physical
alignment to maintain health. Chiropractors believe that structural problems can cause dysfunction
in the nervous system, leading to a host of aches, pains, and other conditions. Their
objective is to realign the body in a way that restores and preserves health, and to accomplish
this without drugs or surgery.
Much of a day in the life of a chiropractor is spent seeing patients and completing the
accompanying paperwork. Doctors check the functioning of
the neuromusculoskeletal system and analyze the spine using
the unique system of chiropractic diagnosis. Chiropractors use
“manipulations”to correct spinal alignment, and they treat their
patients with massage, heat therapy, and ultrasound to restore balance to the system. They may
prescribe changes in diet, exercises, or supports to aid the process. “Compassion is the greatest
asset a chiropractor can have,” noted one practitioner. Good listening skills help chiropractors
detect hidden factors that contribute to their patients’ maladies. Strong communication skills
also help establish rapport with patients; this in turn helps build the practice. Chiropractors
need to continue educating people about the field as the public becomes more interested in
To be admitted to pursue a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) degree, applicants must have at
least two years of college with courses in organic and inorganic chemistry, biology, and
physics as well as a grounding in the social sciences and humanities. There are 21 chiropractic
colleges accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE). A handful of these
grant baccalaureate degrees in conjunction with liberal arts colleges. This reciprocal agreement
allows candidates to combine their courses of study and achieve the DC degree a year
earlier than usual. The last year of school is spent seeing patients under the supervision of a
clinic director. The DC hopeful must see a certain number of patients to graduate.
New graduates must pass the National Board exams. There are also board exams required
to practice in some states. In addition, most states require a certain amount of continuing education
per year to maintain a chiropractic license.
Chiropractors work with nutritionists, exercise physiologists, physical therapists, acupuncturists,
neurologists, podiatrists, and other specialists, such as those in ergonomics. A chiropractor
may cross over into one of these fields if his or her interests change, but the majority of people
with a DC opt to practice or teach.