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Chiropractic Education

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 at least 90 semester hours worth of study toward a bachelor's degree. Their chiropractic college education then lasts four years, and in the fourth year involves 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

References:

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

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