Preparing For A Career As A Chiropractor
Chiropractors, otherwise known as chiropractic physicians, examine and treat patients who are afflicted with various musculoskeletal problems. Through their diagnosis and treatment, they help patients alleviate problems of the general nervous system and improve their general health. Many chiropractors deal exclusively with ailments of the spine and manipulate the patient’s spine in order to achieve the prescribed benefit. Chiropractic physicians work based on the principle that spinal misalignments interfere with the normal functioning of the nervous system and lowers the patients resistance to disease.
Chiropractors provide patients with a holistic, natural and nonsurgical approach to the maintenance of their general health. They are also perceptive of the factors that have a direct influence on their patient’s health such as heredity, exercise, diet and rest. Based on their diagnosis chiropractors may make recommendations to the patient on changing their lifestyle to take these factors into consideration to improve overall health.
Chiropractic Career Outlook
Thanks to projected job growth in alternative healthcare services, and the increased consumer demand for these services, the need for chiropractors is rising at a higher than average level. Because chiropractors use clinical methods that are non-surgical and drug-free, more and more consumers whom are concerned with the general health are seeking their services. Employment in this field is expected to rise at a rate of more than twenty percent, which is dramatically higher than the projected average job growth in many health related industries.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Employment prospects for beginning chiropractors are good, especially if the chiropractor enters a medical practice that contains a number of different sub-specialties. These multi-specialty offices will usually contain other health care professionals such as family practitioners and physical therapists.
Chiropractor Work Environment
Chiropractors work in medical offices and may be required to work on their feet for long periods of time. The majority of chiropractors that are in the workforce today are self employed and work around forty hours per week. Though the majority of their work time may be spent in their office, many chiropractors working in a group practice environment may be called in to treat patients of other health care professionals in the group.
In order to enter the medical profession as a chiropractor, students must complete a minimum of 90 hours of undergraduate study. However, most chiropractors in the work force today have a bachelor’s degree, which is the minimum standard for many states. Students studying the chiropractic arts must complete courses in biology, psychology, social sciences, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry and physics.
The majority of chiropractic programs require a minimum combined total of 4200 hours in clinical, laboratory and classroom experience. During the initial two years of most chiropractic programs, students must take courses in anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry and physiology. During the next two years of the program, students are usually required to focus on courses that are specialized to the field. These courses include spinal manipulation, physical diagnosis, neurology, nutrition, and physiotherapy.
Many chiropractic colleges also offer their students an opportunity to receive postdoctoral training. This postdoctoral training is usually in the specialties of family practice, orthopedics, rehabilitation, pediatrics and neurology.
Chiropractors are only allowed to practice in states where they are certified. The majority of the State certification boards require that the chiropractor has at least two years of undergraduate education. However, an ever increasing number of states are beginning to require chiropractors to have a bachelor’s degree.
In order for a chiropractor to be licensed by the State, they must complete a test given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. Depending on the requirements of the state in which the chiropractor intends to work, he/she may be required to also complete additional State Board tests. States also require students to complete a specified number of continuing education hours per year in order to maintain their license.
Experienced chiropractors enjoy a great deal of job security and have many employment opportunities available to them. Chiropractors also enjoy a higher than average income level as compared to similar professions. The median annual wages for licensed chiropractors are around $66,410 per year. The average annual wages for chiropractors is between $45, 540 per year and $96,700 per year.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
While beginning chiropractors have relatively low earnings at the start of their career, their income usually rises in direct proportion to their experience and the size of their practice. The particular qualifications and characteristics of the chiropractor also has a direct influence on their earnings, as does their geographic location.
Whether or not chiropractors receive benefits, such as retirement or health insurance benefits, depends on the type of practice they are working in. If they work for a clinic or family care practice, then they will generally receive these benefits as an addition to their normal salary. If the chiropractor is unemployed however, then he/she will have to secure their own retirement and health insurance provisions.