There is no doubt that many young people have dreamed of becoming a medical doctor from a very young age. There is also no doubt that studying in Britain has a special kudos all of its own. But what about the job?
Becoming a doctor involves many years of rigorous study (quite rightly) followed by several years of additional study should you choose to specialize. Although by no means badly paid, it can take an awfully long time to reach the top, and for most – if not all – of that time, you will always be answerable to someone else.
So what if you really love the idea of the academic rigor of medicine and the rewards of healing, but frankly don’t have the stomach for the more unpleasant physical aspects? What if you don’t fancy the idea of working for someone else, and would really like to be your own boss? Or what if something inside you keeps telling you that if there is a way of healing without the use of drugs, the natural way has to be preferable?
If any of the above have ever crept into your thought process, then you could do a lot worse than taking a long hard look at chiropractic as a career.
What is Chiropractic?
Chiropractic is a medical system which was developed by Daniel Palmer, a Canadian living the United States, in 1895. It was based on the concept that most, if not all, ill health or disease was due to neurological dysfunction (or problems with the central and peripheral nervous systems) and that by using manipulation and adjustments of the muscle-skeletal system, particularly the spine, as well as support techniques, much ill health and disease could be corrected.
Since then, chiropractic has grown to become the third largest health care profession in the world after medicine and dentistry, and is a recognized part of the healthcare system in countries spanning the globe.
Chiropractors DO NOT prescribe drugs or perform surgery, but frequently offer an alternative to both. They bring help and relief to thousands of patients who would otherwise suffer prolonged pain or illness.
How long does it take?
Depending on where you study, it takes about five years to qualify as a chiropractor, with a further year spent working under the close supervision of an experienced chiropractor in a clinic.
What do the courses involve?
Typically, the first part of a chiropractic course lasts four years and results in a BSc in Chiropractic Science. The fifth year then leads to the award of an MSc in Chiropractic, at which point graduates can register with the governing or statutory body (in the UK, the General Chiropractic Council) and go on to carry out their year of supervised practice. The first two years of the course are similar to those followed by medical students, including anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, biochemistry, nutrition, behavioral science and infectious diseases. Thereafter, the emphasis shifts to chiropractic with technique, radiography, pathology, pharmacology, applied neurology, geriatrics, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, dermatology, clinic preparation and communication. In the fourth year, students have to complete a major research project, which helps provide a good basis for evidenced-based culture of contemporary health care.
Finally, students spend their fifth year doing what it really is all about: treating patients. Under the close supervision of clinical tutors, students will see a wide range of conditions, as they are trained to read x-rays and able to send patients for a variety of tests at local hospitals. In rehabilitation units, students are now able to work with patients who have a long-term history of chronic conditions in retraining their posture and rebuilding muscles to help improve their condition, where chiropractic treatment alone may not be enough.
Chiropractic Career Prospects
Evidence shows that most graduates quickly start to earn incomes that often exceed those of an experienced doctor. However, nobody ever succeeded in chiropractic who came into it for the financial rewards. You need to be dedicated to the ideals of healing first and foremost, have a first-class brain, and want to make a difference. If you have those, then medical school needn’t be your only option.