This is an excerpt from Chapter Three of Dr. Troy Dreiling’s book.
Time to Define
As more and more individuals seek alternatives to potentially harmful drugs or surgery, chiropractic has been gaining a lot of momentum. It is true that chiropractors do not prescribe medication, as this is not part of our model of health. The chiropractic wellness model is all about nervous system health. When the brain and spine have no communication barriers, no subluxations, then the body is working at its optimum level and many health issues can be eliminated or prevented.
The same is true concerning surgery. Chiropractors do not perform surgery as this is considered a last resort within our proactive model of healthcare. So, in this respect, a doctor of chiropractic is not a physician that works within the reactive “sickness” model but chooses to help patients within a “wellness” model or paradigm.
Both a medical doctor (MD) and a doctor of chiropractic (DC) are indeed well educated with degrees from government accredited schools. The difference is in the way we look at health and healing.
Doctors of Chiropractic deal with people, not diseases. We work to help each patient experience greater levels of health, vitality and improved bodily functions through maintaining or correcting nervous system integrity. Medical doctors have a completely different model and, therefore, have a completely different education to complement that model.
Both of these models have a place in our society. The medical doctor model is one of emergency and reactive situations. If you have a broken bone, are experiencing a heart attack, or are bleeding, then a medical doctor is the professional for you. However, if you are suffering from many types of chronic health issues or non-emergency aches or pains, then the chiropractic model may work best for you.
Thousands of Hours of Proof
A chiropractor is well educated, with an educational emphasis on science. In fact, the requirements to become a chiropractor are extremely rigorous and are as or more intense than many other healthcare professions.
Being accepted to chiropractic school is no easy feat. To do so, a prospective chiropractor must have completed two to four years of undergraduate classes with an emphasis in science. This depends on the chiropractic college and the state where the student wishes to practice. This is similar to the requirements of medical students before entering medical school. Once accepted to the school, another four years of schooling is required and the focus on science continues.
The first two years of chiropractic school consists of courses similar to the following:
- Public health
The later years are more specialized including such courses as:
- Chiropractic philosophy and practice
- Chiropractic diagnosis
- Adjusting methods
Additionally, there is deeper training in anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition, diagnosis, x-ray and a variety of therapeutic techniques that aren’t taught in other health care fields.
The purpose of the chiropractic education is to teach students to recognize and care for patients that are experiencing the effects of vertebral subluxations and disorders that are related to the neuromusculoskeletal system of the body. Students also learn how to adjust the spine so that the nervous system functions at its optimal level. Some Chiropractors specialize in correcting the upper cervical subluxations which is a precise and accurate adjustment to the top 3 neck vertebrae. There is a tremendous amount of research coming out now on the amazing benefits that upper cervical chiropractic care has to offer.
Chiropractic promotes the wellness model of health. The essence of chiropractic is that the body has the innate ability to heal itself and resist disease processes as long as it is functioning properly with no interference. Therefore, in addition to adjustment techniques, students learn a variety of other wellness ideals such as diet, exercise, and nutrition.
It is true that the coursework is rigorous, but the student’s education does not end in the classroom. Students must spend hundreds of hours as an intern under professional supervision. The purpose of an internship is to ensure that those graduating with a doctor of chiropractic degree will have all the experience needed to provide safe and effective care to their patients.
Although some of the classes are different, DCs and MDs spend nearly the same number of hours in the classroom. Both MDs and DCs cannot practice without passing a licensing exam. And finally, to continue to practice, a chiropractor must take clinical continuing education classes.
Let’s Talk About Accreditation
In the United States, there are 18 chiropractic colleges:
- Cleveland Chiropractic College
- Life Chiropractic College West
- Palmer College of Chiropractic West
- Southern California University of Health Sciences
- University of Bridgeport, College of Chiropractic
- Palmer College of Chiropractic Florida
- Life University, College of Chiropractic, College of Arts and Sciences
- National University of Health Sciences
- Palmer Chiropractic University Iowa
- Northwestern Health Sciences University
- Cleveland Chiropractic College
- Logan College of Chiropractic
- D’Youville College, Chiropractic Program
- New York Chiropractic College
- Western States Chiropractic College
- Sherman College for Straight Chiropractic
- Parker College of Chiropractic
- Texas Chiropractic College
More than 14,000 students attend these colleges each year.
Having 18 schools with a great enrollment does not, however, say anything about the quality of the education found inside the walls of the colleges.
That is where accreditation comes in.
The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE), a nonprofit organization and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the accrediting agency for chiropractic, has been setting the standards since 1974. The CCE sets standards not only for curriculum but also for faculty, facilities, patient care, and research. Additionally, admissions requirements of chiropractic colleges, as well as licensing board requirements are highly influenced by the CCE standards.
- Undergraduate courses must include biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, psychology, English and the humanities. All science courses must also have associated labs.
- More and more states require a Bachelor’s degree in addition to a DC to practice.