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Grad Program: Chiropractic (D.C.)

Basic Information

Doctors of Chiropractic (D.C.), or chiropractors, are alternative, primary care physicians who diagnose and treat health problems that are related to the body's muscular, skeletal, and nervous systems. In particular, chiropractic medicine is based on the concept that interference with the spinal cord and vertebrae impairs normal bodily functions and lowers resistance to disease. Therefore, chiropractors focus on the spine in promoting overall physical health. A fundamental aspect of their practice is manipulating or adjusting the spinal column to alleviate problems from misaligned vertebrae.

While they are best known for their back and spine manipulation, chiropractors incorporate a range of therapies and techniques into their treatment of patients. Like most generalists, chiropractors diagnose patients based on their medical history, a physical exam, data from testing, and diagnostic imaging. In recommending therapies, chiropractors often incorporate a number of alternative remedies into their general patient care, including nutrition advice, acupuncture, or herbal medicine.

Obtaining a D.C. degree is similar to pursuing an M.D. in that the programs are usually four years long and traditionally incorporate clinical training in the second two years of study in an affiliated facility. While some of the core coursework also mimics a typical M.D. curriculum (including topics such as genetics, microbiology, and radiology), the chiropractic curriculum differs from traditional health related coursework in two ways. First, due the profession's basic tenets as well as the restrictions on a D.C.'s scope of practice, chiropractic doctors are not trained in pharmacology, surgery, or other invasive or specialty techniques. D.C. programs focus entirely on noninvasive, primary care medicine. Secondly, D.C. programs have an increased focus on alternative therapies, such as nutrition, hygiene, acupuncture, exercise, botanical medicine, and stress management.

Degree Information

The only degree offered is the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • What type and how diverse are the manipulation techniques taught?
  • Will you only learn core spinal adjustment techniques or will you also have exposure to other, lower impact techniques?
  • Does the curriculum give you the opportunity to learn complimentary therapies, such as soft tissue manipulation or acupuncture?
  • What are the elective choices? Are there any special programs or classes?
  • What is the range of medical specialties offered?
  • Where will you do your clinical training? What are the clinical facilities like and where is the clinic located?
  • As a student, what will be your involvement in the clinic?
  • How many patients does the clinic treat on a regular basis?

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