Chiropractic training is a four-year academic program consisting of both classroom and clinical instruction. At least three years of preparatory college work are required for admission to chiropractic schools. Students who graduate receive the degree of Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) and are eligible to take state licensure board examinations in order to practice. Some schools also offer postgraduate courses, including two- to three-year residency programs in specialized fields.
Training typically includes:
- The principles and practice of chiropractic care
- Research methods and procedures
- Direct experience in caring for patients
- Coursework in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition, public health, and many other subjects.
The Council on Chiropractic Education, an agency certified by the U.S. Department of Education, is the accrediting body for chiropractic colleges in the United States.
Chiropractic practice is regulated individually by each state and the District of Columbia. Most states require chiropractors to earn continuing education credits to maintain their licenses, and chiropractors' scope of practice varies by state. Chiropractors are not licensed in any state to perform major surgery or prescribe drugs. However, in Oregon, chiropractors can become certified to perform minor surgery (such as stitching cuts) and to deliver children by natural childbirth.
Compared with complementary and alternative therapies as a whole (few of which are reimbursed), coverage of chiropractic care by insurance plans is extensive. As of 2002, more than 50 percent of health maintenance organizations (HMOs), more than 75 percent of private healthcare plans, and all state workers' compensation systems covered chiropractic treatment. Chiropractors can bill Medicare, and more than 24 states cover chiropractic treatment under Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you should check to see if chiropractic care is covered before you seek treatment. Your plan may require care to be approved in advance, limit the number of visits covered, and/or require that you use chiropractors within its network.