Chiropractors, also known as doctors of chiropractic or chiropractic physicians, diagnose and treat patients with health problems of the musculoskeletal system and treat the effects of those problems on the nervous system and on general health. Many chiropractic treatments deal specifically with the spine and the manipulation of the spine.
The chiropractic approach to healthcare focuses on the patient's overall health. Chiropractors provide natural, drugless, nonsurgical health treatments, relying on the body's inherent recuperative abilities. They also recognize that many factors affect health, including exercise, diet, rest, environment, and heredity. Chiropractors recommend changes in lifestyle that affect those factors. In some situations, chiropractors refer patients to consult with other health practitioners.
Like other health practitioners, chiropractors follow a standard routine to get information needed to diagnose and treat patients. They take the patient's health history; conduct physical, neurological, and orthopedic examinations; and may order laboratory tests. X-rays and other diagnostics images are important tools because of the chiropractor's emphasis on the spine and its proper function. Chiropractors also analyze the patient's posture and spine using a specialized technique. For patients whose health problems can be traced to the musculoskeletal system, chiropractors manually adjust the spinal column. (From the online Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011)
The Application Process
Applications are considered for each academic term. It is recommended the application be submitted one year prior to the desired enrollment. This process may vary. Check specific programs for their application process and deadlines. Applicants will be required to submit transcripts and a personal statement or essay that expresses their motivation for choosing the chiropractic profession.
Letters of Evaluation/Recommendation
At least one letter of reference is required from a licensed practicing Doctor of Chiropractic. Other reference and evaluation processes may vary. These may be in the form of confidential evaluations, character reference forms or additional letters of reference.
Some programs conduct informal interviews with each applicant. These interviews generally take place in conjunction with a campus visit and can be arranged through the school's admissions office.
Criminal Background Checks
Applicants should be prepared to disclose and explain any felony or misdemeanor convictions. They may be required to provide signed consent for conducting an External Criminal Background Investigation. Applicants should also be aware that some clinical education sites will require drug screening for students performing clinical rotations.
Diversity in Chiropractic
Factors that contribute to diversity and that are considered in admissions committee evaluations include, but are not limited to, life experiences, work experiences, professional goals, geographical background (rural, urban or suburban), cultural background, and disadvantaged status. Weight will be given to qualified applicants who possess characteristics that are underrepresented in the profession and who would contribute to the overall diversity of the class.
Most chiropractic colleges admit international students. The application process may be challenging and non-citizen students should thoroughly research admission requirements specific to international students and allow additional time for application processing.