This is actually a question we get a lot! And the answer is YES!
Doctors of Chiropractic (DC’s) are considered primary care providers in the United States just like MD’s and DO’s. Of course, the scope of practice and licensure is different for DC’s, who focus on improving the function of the nervous system utilizing non-invasive and holistic means. However, that does not mean that Chiropractor’s do not go through extensive education and are not held to the same professional standards as other PCP’s.
Let’s start with education. Before you can enroll in Chiropractic school, you must obtain a 4 year Bachelor's degree - typical majors include biology, chemistry, and physics. Chiropractic school is a 3.5 year, full-time program with upwards of 20-30 credits per trimester or quarter, depending on the school. All Chiropractic schools have to be accredited and adhere to a standardized curriculum. The early years of the program are heavily focused on anatomy, physiology, neuroanatomy, biochemistry, pathology, and microbiology.
As the schooling progresses the students begin to focus on chiropractic techniques, physical exam skills, and diagnostic work. While the bulk of the education focuses on the nervous system and x-ray diagnostics, courses cover an entire array of categories including EENT, OBGYN, internal disorders, clinical psychology, pharmacology/toxicology, nutrition, physical therapy, and laboratory diagnosis.
The later part of schooling is heavily focused on hands-on, real patient interactions under the close supervision of a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic. Over 4,800 hours are logged in classes before a student can graduate Chiropractic school.
In addition to graduating, to become a licensed Doctor of Chiropractic who is able to treat patients, the DC must pass five National Board Examination for Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE) including one hands-on exam. The exams are upwards of 2 hours each covering everything from basic anatomy to physical examination skill and adjusting technique demonstrations.
After graduating and passing all NBCE exams, the DC is now able to apply to the state in which they intend to practice. In Pennsylvania, DC’s are required to submit school and NBCE transcript, pass a criminal background check, undergo child abuse training, and meet an array of other requirements before they are able to practice. Additionally, continuing education courses are required to be completed each year to keep your license current.
All of our doctors here at OWL Chiropractic are fully licensed Doctors of Chiropractic and they all agree that while the process was grueling, earning the right to improve the lives of others through improving nervous system function was absolutely worth it.
So what do you think? Are Chiropractors actually doctors?
To read more about the docs of OWL Chiropractic, click here.