Monday, October 19, 2009

Chiropractor myth #3 (4-5 to come) - Chiropractors are not real doctors

Chiropractor myth #3 Chiropractors are not real doctors

This is one myth I never really understood.  I had a professor when I was in University who had two PHD’s. Furthermore, this professor had extensive research publications and was even rumoured to be working with NASA on developing new thermodynamic properties for their space suits. Needless to say despite the fact he never went to medical school I always considered him a “real doctor”.

The answer to this myth is really in what you consider to be a “real” doctor.  Chiropractors do not receive a medical degree and do not specialize after medical school. However, a chiropractor’s education and credentials can be quite extensive and demanding.

First, to get into chiropractic school one has to have completed at least three years of undergraduate education from a recognized university. Once applying to a Chiropractic school (only one in Canada) one has to complete the application process. This entitles going through an interview, receiving reference letters and completing an essay on an ethical dilemma.

Chiropractors in Canada go through an extensive four year program to receive their diploma. This means to become a Chiropractor one has to carry out at least seven years of education. The program consists of three years of academics and a one year internship. The program includes courses dealing specifically with chiropractic care and other scientific topics. Some of these courses include immunology, biochemistry, biomechanics, anatomy, toxicopharmocology, microbiology, physiology, pathophysiology and histology just to name a few.

The anatomy curriculum incorporates over 100 hours annually of laboratory work dissecting cadavers, laboratories analyzing histological slides and numerous exams. In addition, our radiology curriculum is not lacking either. During four years of the program we learn extensive knowledge on taking, processing, reading and even safety regulations of radiology. Examinations can cover topics from arthritis to malignant cancers.  Further criteria in completing the program includes learning to take blood, reading urinalysis and blood reports, practicing emergency care procedures and even completing a breast examination.

Our internship requires a certain number of new patients, treatment visits, filled out paperwork, outreach programs and assignments to be signed off on. If all this isn’t enough there is still three different set of board exams and provincial ethics exams to be completed before becoming licensed.

The chiropractic community is diversified and often incorporates a wide range of professionals in its field. Classmates of mine were past physiotherapist, nurses, athletic therapist, engineers and teachers before entering the program. Furthermore, current colleagues of mine have completed seminars and courses in acupuncture, massage therapy and certified strength conditioning specialist. Chiropractors may also apply for a 2 year residency program in a specialized topic including chiropractic sciences, rehabilitation, sports or radiology.  

In summary, the whole process is not considered to be easy. Becoming a professional in the health care field takes a lot of work. Is such hard work confirmed or denied depending on someone’s title? This is a question people should ask themselves the next time they consider this myth. Dr. Wayne Button, BSc, D.C Chiropractor Myth # 1 Myth # 2


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