Chiropractors are common in America for a reason — more than eighty percent of Americans will experience lower back pain at some point in their lives. Researchers guess that this costs the country more than $100 billion a year.
The doctors who usually help us with back pain, among many other issues, are chiropractors. But people don’t always know about how to become a chiropractor.
We know that becoming a doctor takes a lot of work, but we don’t talk about the different types or the different paths that people might take in order to become experts in their field. We’ve put together a handy guide for how you can become a chiropractor in Florida.
Read on to find out more.
What Is A Chiropractor?
First of all, what even does a chiropractor do? What makes them different from the doctor who you go see for your basic healthcare?
A doctor who you see for your annual exam is usually a general practitioner or someone who practices family medicine. They don’t necessarily have a specialty and can diagnose a wide variety of conditions before sending you to someone who does have a specialty.
For example, they could send you to a chiropractor.
Chiropractors treat skeletal and nervous system problems, which is why we often hear about them when someone is trying to find treatment for back pain. They can also be helpful for people with disc injuries, whiplash, arthritis, pinched nerves, or migraines.
There are a lot of conditions other than back pain that chiropractors can diagnose. You can even learn how to become a chiropractor to help pregnant women be as comfortable as possible throughout their pregnancy or to help improve immune system conditions that result from skeletal issues.
Now that we’ve covered what a chiropractor is, let’s move on to how you can become one.
How To Become A Chiropractor
Before you can start helping people in your very own chiropractic practice, you have to complete the right education and training. In some ways, you’d go through the same training that your primary care physician did.
1. Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree
The first step in becoming a chiropractor has to be earning a bachelor’s degree. The state of Florida requires a bachelor’s degree specifically from all potential chiropractors so, unfortunately, an associate’s degree won’t cut it in this instance. You need at least ninety credit hours for them to count it.
You should probably plan on taking classes in biology, organic chemistry, and physics, among others. Taking social science classes is also a good idea since you’ll be working with people all day long.
Once you’ve finished your undergraduate degree, you can move on to the next phase of your schooling.
2. Get A Doctorate Degree
Unlike the primary care physician that you see for annual checkups or complaints, chiropractors don’t earn an M.D. degree. Instead, people who are learning how to become a chiropractor work towards a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Makes sense, right?
Graduate chiropractic programs last around four years. If your undergraduate institution also offers a chiropractic grad program, you might be able to earn your degree in a shorter amount of time — but you should probably plan on four years.
Potential chiropractors go through at least 4200 hours of classes, labs, and training. At first, you’ll take classes on things like anatomy and physiology. As you get closer to the end of your program, you’ll get more practical and hands-on experience in things like spinal manipulation.
The most well-rounded chiropractors also take classes in things like nutrition and psychology.
3. Pass The NCBE Exam
Even after graduate school, there are still more steps in how to become a chiropractor. After you finish your Doctor of Chiropractic degree, you still need to apply for a license.
To apply for a license, you need to pass the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners certification exam to qualify to be a chiropractor in Florida. This is part of the examination process to be sure only the most qualified people are able to provide medical care.
Parts I-III of the NCBE exams are written, and Part IV is practical. Florida requires you to pass the written parts.
4. Pass The Physiotherapy Examination
Another part of the NCBE exams is the physiotherapy examination. This is an elective exam since not every state requires it — but for people looking to learn how to become a chiropractor in Florida, it’s an exam to add to the list.
You can take this exam at the same time as the rest of your NCBE exams. You should plan for an extra seventy-five minutes on test day.
After you’ve passed all of these exams, you can finally become a chiropractor.
5. Begin Practicing
You’ll want to actually do something with all of your education, so the next step, of course, is to start working. You have a lot of options for where you’ll work.
Most chiropractors open up solo practices like Unify Chiropractic. You can also join a group practice if you’re not ready to make the plunge on your own yet. If you want to stay in a college town, you can look to see if there are any universities that are hiring for things like sports medicine.
Hospitals are obviously another option for new chiropractors looking for work.
6. Continue Your Education
However, even after you’ve started working, there’s still more required of you if you want to be a chiropractor. Chiropractors have to continue their education throughout their careers. This helps them to make sure that they know all of the current practices in the field so that they’re doing what’s best for their patients.
Florida’s Department of Health will require you to complete forty hours of continuing education every two years to keep your license. You’ll have to take specific courses on things like Florida law and medical error prevention.
Enjoy Your Career As A Chiropractor
If you follow this guide, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career as a chiropractor, helping people live their healthiest lives. It’s a rewarding job where you can help people feel better every day.
Want to keep learning? Check out our other guides for even more educational tips and ways to recognize your personal potential.