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Training requires a minimum of six years of college and a clinic internship before licensure. Areas of scientific study include anatomy, neurology, bacteriology, pathology, physiology, biochemistry, pediatrics, geriatrics, spinal biomechanics, orthopedics, X-ray, cardiology, nutrition, acupuncture, physiotherapy, gastrointestinal and genitourinary systems, and infectious diseases. Every chiropractic graduate must pass a national examination and then a provincial exam to be licensed by the province of Alberta.

Doctors of Chiropractic are not only trained in problems dealing with the spine, but are formally educated in clinical examination and diagnosis of the entire human body. Doctors of Chiropractic have training comparable to medical or osteopathic doctors in the basic sciences, including anatomy, physiology, pathology, etc. A report by Meredith Gonyea, Ph.D., President of the Center for Studies in Health Policy, Inc., found that among all health care professions, "only D.C.s [Doctor of Chiropractic], M.D.s [Medical Doctors], and D.O.s [Doctors of Osteopathy] focus on health care interventions for the well being of the whole person." Dr. Gonyea concluded that "the D.C. can be considered a generalist in the provision of primary health care services and a specialist in the use of chiropractic treatment methods. The method of practice is similar to the M.D. or D.O. who provides generalist primary care services and is a specialist in internal medicine".

Over the past century, chiropractic education has developed to the point where government studies in the US, Sweden and New Zealand consider it equivalent in the basic sciences to a medical education.

Much of this development stems from the establishment of the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) in 1974, which the US Department of Education recognizes as the accrediting agency for chiropractic schools. The CCE, a nonprofit organization located in Scottsdale, Ariz., sets standards for schools' curriculum, faculty, facilities, patient care and research.

Chiropractic college programs are rigorous and thorough. To attend, applicants must have a minimum two years undergraduate study at a university. Their chiropractic college education lasts four years, meaning they graduate with at least six years of full-time university-level education. In their fourth year, students must also do a clinical internship of approximately 1,000 hours.

When that's done, graduates face one more trial. To practice in the US or Canada, they must pass comprehensive national and state or provincial licensing exams, similar to those for other professionals like lawyers and doctors.

The chiropractic curriculum

A typical four-year chiropractic college program may consist of the following:

  • First year
    • Chiropractic procedures
    • Clinical applied chiropractic
    • Functional anatomy and biomechanics
    • Fundamentals of nutrition
    • General anatomy
    • Histology
    • Human biomechanics
    • Human physiology
    • Introduction to physical examination skills
    • Neuroscience
    • Normal radiological anatomy
    • Palpation
  • Second year
    • Chiropractic principles
    • Chiropractic procedures
    • Clinical applied chiropractic
    • Clinical microbiology
    • Clinical nutrition
    • Clinical orthopedics and neurology
    • Community health
    • Differential diagnosis
    • Imaging interpretation
    • Jurisprudence
    • Nutritional assessment
    • Pathology
    • Pharmacotoxicology
    • Physics and clinical imaging
    • Physiological therapeutics
    • Practice management
    • Research methods
  • Third year
    • Chiropractic principles
    • Clinical application of manual procedures
    • Clinical internship
    • Clinical laboratory clerkship
    • Clinical psychology
    • Dermatology
    • Differential diagnosis
    • Geriatrics
    • Imaging interpretation
    • Integrated chiropractic clinical application
    • Jurisprudence
    • Obstetrics and gynecology
    • Pediatrics
    • Physiological therapeutics
    • Practice management
    • Radiological position and technique
  • Fourth year
    • Clinical internship of approximately 1,000 hours

Chapman-Smith, D. The Chiropractic Profession. West Des Moines: NCMIC Group Inc., 2000.


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