That’s a question I’ve been asked a handful of times in the ten years I’ve been a chiropractor.
By asking “Is a chiropractor a doctor?”, I believe that many people mean to ask whether our training is the same as a medical doctor’s training.
There is quite a bit of overlap in the classroom and laboratory coursework that both chiropractors and medical doctors must complete.
However, medical doctors obviously don’t learn about chiropractic analysis and chiropractic care in medical school, and chiropractors don’t take courses in pharmacology and surgical procedures in chiropractic college.
Regarding use of the title of Doctor, chiropractors use the title following completion of a Doctor of Chiropractic program just as medical doctors use the title of Doctor upon completion of medical school.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, Doctors of Chiropractic are “designated as physician-level providers in the vast majority of states.”
Now that you know the technical answer to the question “Is a chiropractor a doctor?”, let’s talk more about the requirements to get into chiropractic college and the program itself.
While chiropractors historically have not been required to have a bachelor’s degree prior to licensure, several states require Doctors of Chiropractic to also have a bachelor’s degree. For this reason, most of my classmates in chiropractic college earned a bachelor’s degree prior to attending.
Regardless, all chiropractic college applicants must have completed at least 90 hours of undergraduate coursework. This includes a minimum of 24 semester hours of biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, and physics.
To sum up the Doctor of Chiropractic program, I’ll just say that it was an intense few years!
The Council on Chiropractic Education governs and accredits chiropractic colleges and is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The Doctor of Chiropractic curriculum is a rigorous four to five academic year program consisting of a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience.
The majority of students choose to attend chiropractic college year-round, which means that one can complete the program in three years and one quarter.
At Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida (where I attended), the curriculum blended hands-on laboratory and clinical courses with in-depth coursework in health and life sciences, radiology, diagnosis, (of course) chiropractic, and more. Students earned the privilege of treating patients in the clinic the last four quarters of the program.
This program prepares chiropractors to diagnose health conditions, treat conditions within their scope of practice, and refer patients to other healthcare providers when indicated.
Becoming a chiropractor involves so much more than learning how to “pop” patients’ backs and necks. Our education teaches us (in depth) the structure of the body, how the body functions, how to identify and diagnose musculoskeletal conditions, and how to treat those conditions or how to know when NOT to treat and instead refer the patient to another health care professional.