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Chiropractor training | How long to become a chiropractor?

The journey to become a chiropractor is a challenge, but don’t worry, by the end of this article you will have a much better idea of the path ahead. If you work with determination you’ll be set for a rewarding profession.

It generally takes about seven years of higher education to become a chiropractor. This includes four years of undergraduate studies, followed by four to five years of doctor of chiropractic studies.

In this blog post, you will learn about how long it takes to become a D.C. – “Doctor of Chiropractic” or “Master of Chiropractic” (MChiro). Here we will provide you with all the information you need to take the first steps towards a career, so you’ll know what you’re getting yourself into.

Chiropractic Programs &  Steps To Becoming a Chiropractor

Bachelors

So before you step into a career in chiropractic, you may need to gain a bachelor’s degree, or complete the required courses at the bachelors level.  It’s often seen that many chiro’s recommend studying a science-related subject like biology, microbiology, exercise science, or kinesiology. This is because when you study such subjects, it demonstrates to the admissions officers that you have a solid foundation of scientific knowledge.

Chiro’s in general are expected to know a lot about the anatomy of the human body and other related aspects. Therefore, while you choose a school for your undergraduate studies, make sure you check the requirements of the college of chiropractic that you wish to attend later.

Although an undergraduate degree in an unrelated field will not seriously harm you, it is always better to be on the safer side of things. You may also be able to transfer some of your credits to your new major.

Additionally, some chiropractic schools have different entry requirements. They might admit students who haven’t graduated yet, so long as they’ve taken all the necessary prerequisite classes.

Masters

To enter a chiropractic school, at a masters level you need to complete several years of undergraduate program which in total must amount to at least 90 hours of undergraduate training. Once you have the numbers, you can begin with your first steps to becoming a chiropractor.

The master’s course is a high-intensity program where you will learn from hundreds of hours of classes and clinical training. Generally, students will take around four years to complete their chiropractic masters. Some students may apply for the next stages of their journey in as less as three and a half years if they meet the requirements. This is somewhat dependant on the country, and school specifically so it’s worth researching the individual requirements for the program you wish to attend.

As already said, the time required to complete the doctor of chiropractic degree is not uniform, and there are various factors at play. It depends on an individual’s educational & academic background.

Doctorate

Some accredited programs are doctorate level programs. In North America all programs are required to be at this level to produce certified practitioners. Other places in the world will vary, many being at the masters level.

Certification

Alright, so you’re done with your health sciences degree and you’re wondering what’s next. Well, chiropractors must pass a series of exams conducted by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) to get certified. This is a requirement for chiropractors in the United States (U.S), in other countries their chiropractic association can empower specially constituted bodies for this purpose. In the Netherlands, there are two associations, Dutch Chiropractic Federation (DCF), and National Chiropractic Association (NCA).

After qualifying for the exams, you can apply for a chiropractic license. This licensure is important for you to practice. You can take this exam while attending chiropractic school. That way, you can save some time and start your career as soon as possible.

Apart from these exams, there are other certification programs. It’s very important that you go to an accredited degree program, because only then you can apply for advanced certifications. All good certification programs will let you choose a specialty like pediatrics, orthopedics, acupuncture, sports management, etc and earn a doctor of chiropractic.

How Long Does it Take to Become a Chiropractor in the Netherlands?

At the moment there is no direct study to become a doctor of chiropractic in the Netherlands. Currently there is one program based in Germany, which allows for students to take some distance classes based in the Netherlands, but most actual course time will be taken in Germany.

After completing years of study for the master’s and bachelor’s programs,  there is one more step to you start your chiropractic career.  Before you earn a license to practice and open your own practice, a student completes a training program.

The Netherlands’ Chiropractic Association hosts a year-long mandatory Graduate Education Programme. Under this program, new graduates work under the guidance of experienced chiropractors. They have to attend seminars on different techniques, the Dutch healthcare system, laws, and regulations, as well as write a case study and take a practical exam with real patients.

Chiropractors in the Netherlands have diverse educational backgrounds, which means they have various titles, such as BSc(Hons) – Bachelor of Science Honours, MSc of MChiro – Master of Chiropractic, or DC – Doctor of Chiropractic. But one thing’s for sure: their educational standard is high and regulated by the European Council on Chiropractic Education (ECCE).

How long is chiropractic school? Each of these levels requires different amounts of time to complete.

Bachelors – Four years

Masters – Five Years

Doctorate – Can be completed in six but usually students complete in seven or eight years. 

If you’re considering chiropractic training in the Netherlands, you will need to travel for your study. Some students do this by distance learning, and are able to work full time during this process, but most will move abroad for few years. In the end, you will get to work with many types of patients, gain experience and build a plan to practice independently.

Different Types of Chiropractic Schools

Chiropractic schools can generally be divided into two main categories: Biomechanical and Philosophical.

Biomechanical Schools

If you want to compare it with the other schools, you can think of this school in terms of modern healthcare education.

Students take courses to diagnose and treat musculoskeletal conditions, with an emphasis on the spine and nervous system. Instead of focusing completely on, what is called the human body’s ‘innate abilities’, in biomechanical school, the approach to chiropractic is research-based.

Much like a medical school, students deal with real patients. They learn to use chiropractic techniques such as spinal adjustments, chiropractic adjustments through mobilization, soft tissue therapies and exercise rehabilitation to improve patient outcomes.

Philosophical Schools

Philosophical schools are quite different from biomechanical schools, in as much they place a greater emphasis on the holistic, non-medical aspects of chiropractic care. They will usually teach a different approach to healthcare. This approach focuses more on the metaphysical aspects and the body’s innate ability to heal itself through the correction of spinal subluxations.

 

First year of Chiro Studies

Prepare to take classes on chiropractic philosophy, chiropractic history, basic anatomy and spinal anatomy, as well as histology (the study of the microscopic anatomy of biological tissues), cell physiology, and biochemistry. Moreover, chiropractic procedures are introduced to students.

You will investigate all facets of anatomy, in addition to cardiovascular/pulmonary physiology and immunology. You will most likely take a biochemistry course that focuses on digestion and intermediate metabolism as well as the healthcare system.

Some programs will begin fundamentals of radiography (taking x-rays) in this year.

Second year of Chiro Studies

These trimesters contain courses in clinical laboratory diagnosis, soft-tissue procedures, neuromusculoskeletal diagnostics, skeletal radiography, and advanced chiropractic techniques. Additional areas include nutrition, microbiology/bacteriology, and a deeper dig into chiropractors’ hands-on practices.

In the seventh trimester, students begin their chiropractic internships in student clinics. In addition, they study more X-ray techniques, radiography of soft tissues, and patient-centered case management.

Third year of Chiro Studies

In addition to focusing on pediatric care and development, women’s care, nutrition, and extra adjusting approaches, certain programs will also emphasize pediatric care and development, women’s care, and nutrition.

Advanced imaging is explored more, with additional courses on reading MRI, ultrasound, CT-Scans, and clinical diagnosis. Also Radiography lab, where students will be operating x-ray machines is essential before clinic begins.

At the end of this year, a clinic entrance exam will take place where students must present competence in the areas studied up to this point to meet and begin care with actual patients.

Fourth year of Chiro Studies

At this stage, students begin their outpatient clinic experience under the supervision of a faculty clinician who is a licensed chiropractor. In addition to pediatrics, geriatrics, and other areas, the course will include clinical nutrition, differential diagnosis, and advanced imaging techniques. During this time, students in some programs will also have to go to blood analysis and urine analysis labs.

The ninth trimester primarily consists of learning how to run a chiropractic practice, studying the ethics of working in healthcare, and learning how to successfully communicate with the public and other healthcare professionals.

The requisite number of practice sessions with patients in the outpatient clinic at the chiropractic college, usually 200 adjustments, must be completed by chiropractic students in order to finish their internship, although some will have up to 400.

Licensing exams

This will vary depending on the country – As students advance through chiropractic college, they take several components of what are known as “Board examinations.” The four components of a test given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners are referred to by this phrase (NBCE). What is covered includes:

Part I: Examines six concepts from elementary science, including general and spinal anatomy and physiology.
Part II: Examines six clinical scientific disciplines, such as neuromuscular diagnostics, diagnostic imaging, and chiropractic concepts and methods.
Section III: Emphasises patient case management and diagnostic tests
Part IV: This section covers case management themes, chiropractic procedures, and the interpretation and diagnosis of X-rays.

 

Career Path to Becoming a Chiropractor

Now that you’ve understood the degree programs, let’s recap the education requirements that you require:

  • Need at least 90 hours of undergraduate training
  • Master’s degree (alternatively known as Doctor of chiropractic in some countries such as South Korea)
  • Meet the academic requirements for graduation
  • Complete three or four stage licensing exam (depending on the country)
  • If you complete these prerequisites, you can start your own chiropractic practice and move towards a rewarding career.

Cost of Chiropractic Education

Chiropractic studies like any other form of education have expenses that can be broadly divided into the following categories.

  • Tuition
  • Living expenses
  • Travel
  • Student costs

Most chiropractic schools will cost $15,000 – $20,000 per year for tuition. 

These costs are country-specific, so while living might be cheaper in a European country, it might not be so in the US. Similarly, you will find some variation in costs from one university to other.

 

Additional Post Graduation Designations

Many chiropractors are interested in becoming a fellow or specialist after completing their study, to differentiate themselves even further. Some of the popular programs include:

  • Veterinary chiropractic
  • Chiropractic neurology
  • Chiropractic radiology
  • Chiropractic sports fellow

Where does a chiropractor work?

In your career as a chiropractor you’ll have opportunities to work in different scenarios. Most will start as an associate in clinical practice working for an established business. Some will start off as an entrepreneur themselves, this will require an initial investment of anywhere from $5000-50,000 to build a new space for yourself.

As a chiropractor, numerous career opportunities are available, including joining an institute as a chiropractor, working with sports teams, opening your own clinic, and gaining experience with real clinical opportunities.

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