How Educated Is Your Chiropractor?

How long does it take to become a chiropractor?

I have a lot of patients ask me how long it takes to be a chiropractor, so I thought I would write this to let you know exactly how long it takes to become a chiropractor (hint: It is not a weekend seminar). So to be able to get into a doctor of chiropractic program you must first complete a Bachelors degree with the traditional pre-med courses, like chemistry, biology, and physics.

Once accepted into the program it takes 3 and a half years of year round school (No summer break?!) with a course load of around 20 hours a semester.

During the program courses like anatomy, physiology, histology, pathology, microbiology and biochemistry are taken in the first few semesters, followed by more clinical sciences like neurology, orthopedics, physical examination, rehabilitation and adjusting courses. There are then built-in clinical rotations at the clinic on campus and treating patients in other scenarios (I had the privilege of doing rotations with the Rice University athletics department and at the University of Houston in Clear Lake).

All chiropractic colleges must be accredited through a national accrediting agency.

A chiropractic degree is actual a doctorate level degree and as such there are strict requirements for a school to remain accredited and many of the classes taught in the program are taught by PhD and MD faculty. This helps ensure that your chiropractor has received a quality education and is able to treat you confidently and expertly.

During this whole process there are also what are know as national board exams and there are four parts.

Part one consists of six tests over the basic sciences (general and spinal anatomy, physiology, chemistry, pathology and microbiology). Part two consists of six more tests over clinical sciences (general diagnosis, neuromusculoskeletal diagnosis, diagnostic imaging, principles of chiropractic, chiropractic practice, and associated clinical sciences). Part three consists of case history, physical examination, neuromusculoskeletal examination, diagnostic imaging examination, clinical laboratory and special studies, diagnosis or clinical impression, chiropractic techniques, supportive techniques and case management. Part four is a practical exam where x-ray interpretation and diagnosis, chiropractic technique, and case management skills are all tested. There is also an additional physiotherapy examination that must be taken.

So all together your chiropractor first has a Bachelor’s degree to even begin the chiropractic program then after three and a half years of intense year round schooling they still must pass the four national board exams. So it takes just a little longer than a weekend seminar.