If you are friends with any chiropractors on social media, you may have seen this infographic on your news feed at least once or twice.
- It is pretty and easy to understand
- It shows lay people that yes, chiropractors are "real doctors"
- It does a nice job of showing you that, while our hours are similar in both programs, those hours are spent studying different topics
- They don't tell you where they got their information from
- Are these hours the average across all schools? Are they the minimum requirements?
- The number of hours spent on a topic does not reflect the graduate's understanding of the material
- The number of hours spent on a topic does not reflect the difficulty of those courses. I believe my anatomy class in chiropractic school would be on-par for medical school. Nutrition? Way above and beyond. Pathology? Probably not as hard as theirs.
- Chiropractic schools vary drastically in their curricula. For example, schools such as Parker and Sherman teach four or more classes on chiropractic philosophy. My alma mater had no classes dedicated to this subject.
- This does not speak to the quality of the candidates entering these programs. Entrance requirements are very, very different between DC and DO or MD programs. An easy example is that aspiring chiropractors are not required to take the MCAT or the GRE.
- Chiropractors are not required to do a residency, although more and more residency opportunities are becoming available to us. Residencies are done at participating campuses and may include sports medicine, radiology, and rehabilitation. Diplomates are also available to chiropractors, but consist of a series (usually 300+ hours) of weekend seminars. There are ten diplomates that include: functional neurology, pediatrics, sports medicine, and nutrition.
Now, don't leave this blog bummed out thinking that I don't like chiropractic. I freaking love chiropractic and I absolutely love being a chiropractor. These were just the thoughts that run through my mind when I see this picture on my newsfeed and why I choose not to share it.
Now for some real-world, practical knowledge! ;) Here's what I think everyone should know about Chiropractors and "normal" doctors:
- Yes, Chiropractors are real doctors
- Chiropractors can be primary care physicians
- Chiropractors very greatly in the way we practice
- We can have specialties just like an MD or DO (see above)
- We have about the same amount of formal schooling as MDs and DOs, but we generally do not do a residency like they do
The thing to remember when choosing a doctor is that their education dictates the type of care they give. The vast majority of medical school education is dedicated to three things: diagnosis, drugs and surgery. The average amount of time spent on nutrition in medical schools is about 24 hours, and less than a third of schools require a separate nutrition course [ref]. Simply put, if you don't want to be treated with drugs and surgery and MD or DO is likely not a good fit for you. Now, that's not to say you might not need drugs or surgery, but a well-rounded, open-minded chiropractor should be able to recognize the need for such a referral if the need arises. Generally speaking, we chiropractors are educated enough in pharmacology to recognize the need for a referral but not enough to prescribe it ourselves.
Now here's the second part to this decision. Say you decide that the natural, holistic route is the one for you. Then what? How do you choose from the myriad of holistic physicians that are out there? Try to triage yourself to the best of your ability. Do you think your case needs a lot of nutritional work and supplements? Then find a doctor who practices functional medicine or has a diplomate in nutrition. Is yours a problem that will likely need PT and/or massage? Then find a clinic that offers both of those in addition to chiropractic care. Is the appointment for a child? Then a doctor who has their diplomate in pediatrics would be the best fit. Are you on multiple medications or would you like to come off of prescription medications? If so, a naturopath may be the best fit in a state like OR or AZ where they have prescription rights. Otherwise, a functional medicine doctor should be able to coordinate with your prescribing physician.
*Please note: Naturopaths (NDs) are NOT licensed in every state- actually very few. Furthermore, their scope of practice varies greatly depending on the state they are in.
If you or somebody you know is interested in working with a functional medicine doctor please call my office at (919) 238-4094 and see if we are the right fit for you. Infinity Holistic Healthcare is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, part of the Raleigh-Durham "triangle" area.