Education Chiropractic

Slump test, Flip test.

Education chiropractic is to be found on six continents. It falls into two broad categories:

  1. A pre-chiropractic education in a university or college, followed by a professional education, OR
  2. A single (longer) post-school chiropractic education.

Either way, most programs require a minimum of six years post high school education.

› Education chiropractic

This page was updated by Dr Barrie Lewis on 12th October, 2018

Usually this would include a full research dissertation to prepare the young graduate for the modern world where the doctor of chiropractic has to be fully conversant with modern research concepts.

Graduates of education chiropractic schools receive the degree Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), and are referred to as "doctor". The Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) sets minimum guidelines for chiropractic colleges, but additional requirements may be needed for a license depending on the country where a chiropractor chooses to practise.

Model 1

The two part course, followed in the Americas, has the advantage of less fall out. Having completed an initial degree, the young graduate is in a much stronger position to make a mature decision of a life's career. It has the disadvantage of taking slightly longer but proponents would say this model of chiropractic education makes for more rounded personalities.

All 19 chiropractic institutions in the United States are accredited by the CCE. Several universities in the USA have established a College of Chiropractic, a full affiliate within the university.

Students often enter chiropractic school with a Bachelor's degree, but, in 2005, only one chiropractic college (The National University of Health Sciences in Chicago) required this as an admission requirement.

The minimum prerequisite for enrollment in a chiropractic college set forth by the CCE is 90 semester hours, and the minimum cumulative GPA for a student entering is 2.50.

Commonly required classes include: psychology, biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and physics. Other common medical classes are: anatomy or embryology, physiology, microbiology, diagnosis, neurology, x-ray, orthopedics, obstetrics/gynecology, histology, and pathology. Chiropractic programs require at least 4,200 hours of combined classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience.

The second half of the course stresses studies in manipulation and spinal adjustment and provides clinical experience in physical and laboratory diagnosis, orthopedics, neurology, geriatrics, physiotherapy, rehabilitation and nutrition.

"My idea of education is to unsettle the mind and inflame the intellect."

- Robert Maynard Hutchins

Model 2

A school leaver, perhaps 17 or 18 will be much less prepared for an education that is consciously unsettling. So, during the first phase of Model II, chiropractic college students making the transition from school are introduced to the basic sciences in a more traditional way. Not exactly "chalk and talk" but learning basic anatomy is not much different from learning multiplication tables and bonds; repetition is the way we learn things.

At the end of the first year, faculty have the difficult task of deciding whether a student has what it takes to make a successful transition to the demands of a highly sophisticated education. And of course whether s/he will make a fine doctor of chiropractor. Investing huge sums of money in a young person who is clearly unsuitable does neither that person, his parents nor the tax payer any favours.

CCE sets the standard for chiropractic education around the world. Many countries outside the USA and Canada, such as Britain, France and South Africa allow for such an all-inclusive chiropractic education that begins immediately post school, and generally has a duration of about six years.

An honest look.

The education chiropractic requirements in both models are not dissimilar, and of course the demands of the public are the same. What they want is a caring and competent physician, able to care for their aches and pains, and contribute to the glaring gaps in medicine's grasp of prevention.

Perhaps it's time for an independent research project comparing these two very different educational models. Does one produce a better doctor than the other? We just don't know.


Historically, our profession has had much in common with natural living and naturopathy. That background has given the profession an antipathy not only to the taking of drugs, but also an aversion to vaccinations, preservatives, emulsifiers, hydrogenation of fats and the like; and a fascination of nutrition. Students are faced with some difficult issues in education chiropractic.

With this in mind you'll find this site littered with pages such as Healthy Living Tips and natural methods of overcoming constipation and a fascination with the innate contents of food, like what are PHYTOSTEROLS and hydrogenated foods?

Certainly an undergraduate degree, with the fundamentals of organic chemistry, will give today's chiropractor a leg up in the understanding of the complex biochemistry. Type words like homocysteine, omega-3, lignans, lycopene, selenium into this search engine. All vital subjects to the patients who wants to live long in the land with all his/her marbles intact.

Lower Back Exercises

Nowhere is the research more unequivocal about the effectiveness of chiropractic than in the treatment of lower back pain; we gets the patient back to work quicker, much more cheaply and generally with less ado than taking dangerous anti inflammatory drugs or lower back surgery. Students of education chiropractic are immersed in research.

Not that chiropractors are rabidly against either. We just think, and it's based on strong research (medical research too), that they should be the second and third options, not the first and second.

However, even the most diehard chiropractor will acknowledge that the chiropractic adjustment of the spine has its dangers too. Unskillfully and unwisely applied manipulation can aggravate a spinal condition.

Chiropractic Iatrogenic Illness

More, without the requisite rehabilitation and a faithfully done program of lower back exercises almost every chronic lower back pain sufferer will inevitably find him or herself back in the chiropractic clinic with a few months. Today every Education Chiropractic programme has a strong emphasis on nutrition and sports physiology.

Continuing Education

What certainly produces better doctors are those who whole-heartedly embrace continuing education. What makes it difficult is that so much of these lectures may be interesting, but quite irrelevant to the practitioner in the field.

Many doctors go to continuing education courses grudgingly, jumping through the hoops but with very little benefit to them or their patients.



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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I have left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he is happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti-inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He is doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost pain-free. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he is well pleased; sixty-five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he has taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily stroll has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift; he has a short leg.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. X-rays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65-year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88-year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done. 

10. Mr X is a 71-year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a few months ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It is a non-complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she is doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38-year old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he could not sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71-year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors should not be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that is so much bunkum.

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Interesting questions from visitors

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Knowing that up to 70 percent of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there is a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong. Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

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The quickest and most interesting way is to read one of my eBooks of anecdotes. Described by a reader as gems, both funny and healthful from the life and work of a chiropractor, you will love them. Priced right at $2.99, though Kindle fiddles the amount without telling me.