I have heard here and there through the years that the public in general is not aware of the extent of education doctors of chiropractic undergo. I often see chiropractors comparing their education to that of their medical counterparts. There is really one very key difference in the educations of each. The main difference is that chiropractic internships are typically done within the school setting and the school's public clinic. Whereas medical students have a multitude of opportunities to undergo their internship in a public clinic setting across the country that is tailored to their chosen specialty.
Another key difference in the two is that, for the most part, chiropractic students do not have residencies. To be clear, some chiropractic colleges DO have residency programs and preceptor programs. In addition, many in the profession are pushing and urging the college leaders to start moving in the direction of residencies and more opportunities for internships for the students. This will result in MUCH better professional standardization and MUCH better-trained doctors of chiropractic.
I would also add that, while many medical doctors go on to specialize in a certain field such as neurology, orthopedics, pediatrics, OBGYN, etc., doctors of chiropractic rarely specialize. In fact, only about 2% of chiropractors choose to achieve Diplomate or Fellowship training. Many in the chiropractic profession are currently working and urging more specialization within the profession.
Outside of residencies and internships, chiropractic education is very similar to a medical doctor's education. The basic sciences are the basic sciences. The books are the same. The learning is the same. Since radiology is such a big part of some chiropractic practices, chiropractors are highly trained in reading x-rays. Medical doctors are not in general.
While chiropractors are trained lightly in obstetrics and gynecology, medical doctors will have much more training in that subject. Chiropractors have no need to extended treatment on that topic. My point is, while there is some differences in the two profession's learning, the basic sciences are the exact same while some of the ancillary courses are tailored more to the profession.
I want to make something very clear before beginning the comparison: my goal is NEVER to denigrate other professions. My goal is to demonstrate the education of doctors of chiropractic only. The hours represent the standard curriculum at institutions. The graphs do not take into account continued personal achievement or continuing education beyond their curriculum completion.
Data can be independently verified and was collected from 2016 academic calendars among the top-ranked programs in North America.
Professions in the graphs are listed as follows:·
- DC – Doctor of Chiropractic – (4614 hrs.) University of Western States·
- MD – Medical Doctor – (4800 hrs.) Yale School of Medicine·
- DO – Doctor of Osteopathy – (4600 hrs.) Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine·
- DPT – Doctor of Physical Therapy – (2667 hrs.) University of Southern California
Specific programs at different institutions will vary; charts are provided for basic comparison and education priorities of each profession, and not imply any one profession is ‘better’ than another. Please recognize that while education plays a role in practice style, the charts below do not take into consideration post-graduate education, practice preference or clinical specialization.
I have seen in online discussion people denigrating the education of chiropractors. They agree that chiropractors get a lot of hours but, they say they are not quality classes. I firmly disagree. Chiropractic schools are accredited through the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) which is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and are a member of the Association specialized and Professional Accreditors (ASPA).
In addition, many of the professors in chiropractic colleges are medical doctors, chiropractic doctors, as well as PhDs. A chiropractic student must undergo the exact same basic science courses as any medical student must undergo. This was set up intentionally to ensure the highest level of education for Doctors of Chiropractic.
These courses (which are found in medical school as well) include Cell Biology, Systemic Anatomy, Gross Anatomy (I & II), Biochemistry (I & II), Microbiology/Immunology, Public Health, General Pathology, Systems Pathology, Radiology (I, II, & III), Clinical Orthopedics, Lab Diagnosis, Clinical Neurology, Physiology (I, II, and III), Emergency Care, Differential Diagnosis, Internship, and much much more. In just one semester, my class carried 33 hrs of classes. For those unaware, the average class load for an average college student is approximately 12-15 hrs.
If one experiences the diminishing of Chiropractic Education, recognize it for what it is: simple ignorance of the facts being discussed and not anything based on real knowledge or understanding.
Here are more graphics demonstrating the thoroughness of Chiropractic education. These are via Texas Chiropractic Association.