Many first-time patients trying out chiropractic care have a common question: are chiropractors doctors? This, of course, is an important question to consider. After all, when it comes to your health, you only want the most educated and highly-trained professionals working with you.
To become a chiropractor, you do not need to receive your M.D. (which makes you a Doctor of Medicine). Instead, chiropractors receive their D.C. to become a Doctor of Chiropractic. So, yes, chiropractors are doctors—just not quite the same as a medical doctor.
It’s no easy feat to become a doctor in any field. But what exactly do chiropractic students undergo to ensure that they receive the best possible training and resources available? In this blog, we’re taking a closer look at just what makes a chiropractor a doctor and how these qualifications are earned.
What Makes Chiropractors Doctors?
Chiropractors are recognized as doctors because they hold a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree from an accredited institution. These schools of chiropractic are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which also works to accredit public universities, private universities, and medical schools.
In essence, these schools of chiropractic, such as Life University, the Palmer College of Chiropractic, and Cleveland University, undergo the same rigorous qualifications as many of the top medical schools in the country.
To earn their DC, chiropractic students will need to undergo and excel at several steps along the way, including:
- Earn an undergraduate degree from an accredited university. Generally, these students are expected to major in the sciences or follow a track similar to that of a pre-med student. Common undergraduate degrees for those interested in chiropractic care include biology, exercise science, or kinesiology. It’s also worth noting that some chiropractic schools have combined B.S./D.C. programs to reduce the time the student needs to spend in school.
- Assist or apprentice a practicing chiropractor and work directly with patients—similar to a residency program for medical students.
- Pass any tests required by the state to earn their license to practice.
- Fulfill any continuing education requirements.
Why Don’t Chiropractors Earn Their M.Ds?
Essentially, they don’t have a need to. Chiropractors focus solely on medical issues afflicting the musculoskeletal system, which means a much more focused degree serves them (and their patients) much better.
When earning a Doctor of Chiropractic degree, students will learn how to identify, diagnose, and treat disorders of the spine and other parts of the overall musculoskeletal system. Those training to become a Doctor of Chiropractic take an in-depth approach to studying spinal anatomy and conditions that may affect the musculoskeletal system and the nervous system.
Like many advanced degrees, earning a D.C. means your coursework and training will become much more specific and focused as you advance. For comparison, consider a student training to become a historian or history professor. While earning their Bachelor’s degree, they’ll cover a wide amount of terrain in the field of history, covering general topics and themes like American History and European History.
However, by the time they begin pursuing their graduate degrees, they’ll narrow their focus on specific historical events and topics, such as the Vietnam War or pre-revolutionary Russia. By narrowing and specifying the focus, students in all fields of academics can better become experts and leaders in their chosen fields. Some chiropractors may even go on to specialize even further and focus on injury relief chiropractic or specialize in treating sports-related injuries.
What are the Educational Requirements to Become a Chiropractor?
Like any other doctoral degree, there’s a lot of coursework that goes into earning your D.C. These extensive requirements and years of training and learning are necessary to ensure that patients receive quality chiropractic care.
To even apply to a chiropractic college, students will first need to complete an undergraduate degree, generally in a healthcare-related field such as biology or kinesiology. They will need to accumulate at least 90 semester hours of college courses.
The majority of this undergraduate coursework will include:
- Courses in English or Communications
- Courses in Psychology
- Courses in Humanities or Social Sciences
- Courses in Physical Sciences
- Courses in Anatomy, Biology, and Physiology
Generally, students are expected to graduate with a GPA of at least 3.00 to be considered for a chiropractic college. Of course, many of these top programs are highly competitive. Therefore, the higher the GPA the student has, the better.
How Long Does it Take to Graduate from Chiropractic College?
Following the 90 hours of undergraduate coursework, students will then transition to their advanced studies at a chiropractic college. While each college and program may vary slightly, most students in chiropractic schools will graduate in just over three years.
During their education, chiropractic students will study a number of different healthcare-related subjects, including:
- Clinical Orthopedics
- Imaging interpretation
- Medical ethics
By covering a wide range of subjects, these programs can ensure that their students graduate as well-rounded and skilled Doctors of Chiropractic. As part of this coursework, students will often work in labs, engage in group study projects to collaborate with other students, and perform advanced research. In addition to this coursework, chiropractic students also engage in a variety of patient care experiences so that they will receive hands-on training and experience.
Conclusion – Are Chiropractors Doctors?
While your chiropractor may not have the letters M.D. following their name, this doesn’t mean that they aren’t a doctor. Instead of entering medical school, chiropractors attend chiropractic school to earn their Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.). Lasting roughly 3 years, these schools of chiropractic incorporate advanced coursework, lab experience, and hands-on training to ensure their students succeed well beyond the classroom.
All of the chiropractors at Governor’s Park have received their Doctors of Chiropractic from prestigious colleges and are looking forward to helping you improve your health. If you’re experiencing chronic pain, limited mobility, or you’re recovering from a personal injury or sports-related injury, our team can help. Our experienced and friendly chiropractic staff understands that each recovery is personal—that’s why we develop personalized treatment plans for each patient.
Whether you’re in need of personal injury recovery, spinal decompression, general chiropractic adjustments, massage therapy, or custom orthotics, our treatments can accelerate your recovery, help you achieve optimal health, and get you back to the lifestyle you love.
Contact us today at Governor’s Park Chiropractic to schedule your initial consultation and discover what our full-service Colorado chiropractic office can do for you.
Simply call (720) 743-3915 for our Denver and Lone Tree Chiropractic offices or (720) 740-1467 for our Wheat Ridge chiropractic center.