Chiropractors are enjoying an increase in acceptance both among clients and among others in the medical profession. Their dedication to alternative medicine helps people find relief from their pain without resorting to pharmaceuticals or surgery. It's this dedication to helping people deal with pain through non-traditional methods that makes the allure of becoming a Musculoskeletal Chiropractic professional attractive to many potential candidates.
What is a Musculoskeletal Chiropractor?
A musculoskeletal chiropractor could be called a symptoms relief or pain relief chiropractor. Patients who are experiencing chronic pain may choose to see this type of physician in order to gain relief and reduce their symptoms and pain. The chiropractor will manipulate the spine, decompress joints and potentially use electro-therapies in order to get the patient in a more comfortable state.
This type of chiropractor may see a patient who is undergoing other therapies or treatments and wishes to have their pain relieved as a compliment to those therapies or has experienced an injury, accident or other dysfunction of the spinal nerve and needs relief – either temporarily or as part of a rehabilitation plan. Pain-relief chiropractors are focused mainly on the symptoms of the patient and helping them without using medication or as an alternative to surgery.
Patients who experience chronic pain because of disease like fibromyalgia may see a musculoskeletal chiropractor regularly in order to experience some relief from these symptoms.
Some of the symptoms or conditions that may be relieved by a musculoskeletal chiropractor are:
Educational Requirements for Becoming a Musculoskeletal Chiropractor
The minimal educational requirement for becoming a doctor of chiropractic is a doctoral degree issued by an accredited chiropractic college.
Step-by-Step Educational Path to Becoming a Musculoskeletal Chiropractor
As with many professional degrees, the doctor of chiropractic degree begins with the student’s undergraduate education. In order to apply for Chiropractic College, four-years of pre-medical training in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work needs to be completed by the applicant. These classes can be completed in conjunction with an undergraduate degree in the sciences, or on their own while pursuing a separate degree program. Because of their overlap, many aspiring chiropractors major in fields such as biology, sports medicine or another related field in order to decrease the overall time spent studying at this level.
In order to be competitive when it comes to chiropractic college admissions, most students complete their bachelor’s degree, however, only 90 credits of coursework are required for a student to submit their application to the college.
The student’s choice of chiropractic school in the United States should be accredited by an accrediting agency that is recognized by the United States Department of Education. There are some “academies” that offer chiropractic training that are not recognized and therefore will not set the student up for licensure and the ability to practice at the completion of their education.
Once admitted into an accredited chiropractic school, the student can expect four to five years of study. This coursework will include classroom time, laboratory work and hands-on experience which will teach the student how to perform adjustments and give them experience in a clinical environment. Students study anatomy, physiology, rehabilitation, nutrition, public health and more during chiropractic school.
At the completion of chiropractic school the student will have successful completed the minimum curriculum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory and clinical experience.
Pain relief care can be a chiropractic specialty that comes with added experience. Other added credentials and classifications that a chiropractic doctor may have include: Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician (CCSP), Chiropractic Certification in Spinal Trauma (CCST) or a Certified Chiropractic Extremity Practitioner (CCEP), among others.
There are additional training courses that offer further credentials to the chiropractor. For example, there is a “Diplomate of the American Academy of Pain Management” or DAAPM recognition.
It should be noted that not all credentials are verified by a third party accreditation service and chiropractors who are interested in obtain certification should review the benefits of accreditation prior to seeking special training or certification from these organizations. Some credentials are only recognized by the specific organization that has issued the credentials while others are accepted by the chiropractic community at large.
Chiropractors must be licensed according to the requirements of the state they desire to practice in. Chiropractors in training can find complete information on the American Chiropractic Associate website under State Licensing Information.
In addition to state licensing, there are many professional organizations that a chiropractor can be a part of that will increase access to other practicing chiropractors, provide continuing education, and offer networking or mentorship opportunities. Chiropractors are encouraged to found out more about each organization as it pertains to their focus and practice.
These professional organizations include:
Depending on that state in which the chiropractor practices, there may be continuing education requirements in order to maintain licensure. Every state is different in their requirements and it is the responsibility of the chiropractor to know and adhere to the requirements of the state(s) where they practice.
For example, the state of California requires 12 to 24 hours of continuing education credit depending on when the chiropractor license is due to expire.
Continuing education requirements are split into several areas of study. Again, according to California regulations, courses should include a combination of the following:
In contrast: The state of Illinois requires 150 hours of continuing education courses every three years, and they offer a large list of course topics that would apply to maintain licensure. The state of Georgia requires 20 hours every year which include 15 hours of clinical science, 4 hours of ethics and 1 hour of jurisprudence according to their board rules.
Practicing chiropractors should refer to the regulations of their state board in order to ensure they are meeting all requirements and do not have any lapse in licensure.
Understanding the Career Path
According to many studies, the forecast for chiropractors is good in terms of job growth and income potential. There is already a wider acceptance of the practice and as people experience the benefits of great chiropractic care, the industry is set to expand.
There is a vast range of the number of chiropractors practicing throughout the United States. The top five states are California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York which each have over 1,400 chiropractors. In contrast, North Dakota, Wyoming, New Mexico, Mississippi and West Virginia have less than 180 chiropractors for the entire states.
Chiropractic salary varies greatly based on the state of licensure and practice. Across the United States, salary can vary over $110,000 a year. The following is a breakdown of the average salaries with specific highlights based on state.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for a chiropractor is $66,720 annually or $32.08 hourly. The highest 10% make $143,760 annual salary or $69.11 hourly while the lowest 10% make $31,440 annual salary or $15.11 hourly.
To put salary variations into perspective the mean wage for the states with the highest number of chiropractors are as follows:
New York: $83,970
The top paying states are:
New Jersey: $129,010
Tips for Success in this Field According to Our Expert
According to Dr. Ryan Day, a chiropractor in Centennial, Colorado, one of the best things a student can do is take advantage of the additional training opportunities that are offered as they are attending school. Conferences and seminars are often offered to students at a discounted rate. The student can gain all of the insight and information while honing their skills and discovering their niche in the industry.
This is just one tip for standing out as a chiropractor. In order to establish a solid client base, maintain a practice and establish a career the chiropractor should discover ways to specialize that set them apart. Through training and experience the chiropractor can begin to offer something other chiropractors are not offering in their area. For example, Dr. Day works with soft tissues alongside of traditional chiropractic adjustments.
This has been a much needed service in the world of competitive bodybuilding where he has found several clients. Because of his specialization he is able to attract more athletes and has been able to build a steady personal practice since graduating chiropractic school.