When people ask me “how is school going,” I usually have the same answer – IT’S BUSY! When I started chiropractic college almost 3 years ago, I never imagined how busy I would really be. When I explain to people the process of getting into, and then studying chiropractic, they’re usually quite surprised at the vast amount of topics we have to be knowledgable on. They range from anatomy to physiology, to biomechanics, biochemistry, microbiology, to orthopaedics and psychology.
So what’s process of becoming a chiropractor?
This process varies a little depending on the school you are looking at attending. Some have pre-requesite courses that need to be fulfilled, others a little more flexible, but most require at least 3 years (or 90 credit hours) of an undergraduate university study with a minimum 2.50 CGPA on a 4.00 scale. (*side note – I’m going to speak mostly to my experience with Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College or CMCC). Most of my class (including myself) comes from a Kinesiology or health-science background, although this isn’t a requirement.
Once you applied, as long as you meet this requirement, you are given an interview. This lasts about 30 minutes, during which they mostly ask questions on ethical decision making and problem solving, to see how you’re going to handle different situations that might be presented to you as a chiropractor. You also have to prepare a personal statement that is read over, mostly describing your desire to attend the institution.
After that it’s a waiting game as panel reviews your interview and transcript!
At CMCC, the doctor of chiropractic program is 4 years; 3 composed of most building foundational skills and knowledge in a variety of sciences, diagnosis, and chiropractic principles, while the final year is a 12 month clinical internship where we apply everything we’ve learned and provide care to patients under the supervision of a licensed chiropractor.
As chiropractors, we focus on hands on care of the musculoskeletal system – the bones, joints and muscles. Therefore, a large portion of our school is based on understanding how the body moves and works! Courses like anatomy, physiology, biomechanics, orthopaedics, neuroscience, and rehabilitation are integral. We have to understand that what happens on a tiny, cellular level can affect the entire body and it’s function – so having a base in pathology, immunology, biochemistry, histology, microbiology, and neuroanatomy. We also become proficient in reading and taking x-rays, learn how to read lab reports (like blood work), understand the importance of nutrition, how to start to build and maintain a business, and also get a basis in pharmacology (understanding medications and how they work on the body). We also get courses more specific to chiropractic such as clinical education, chiropractic principles, and chiropractic technique (we actually start with basic adjustments in first year!).
About halfway through my third year, I look back at the amount of knowledge I’ve started to build, and it astounds me. As chiropractors, we are primary health care professionals – this means that we are able to be the first medical personnel a patient can seek when they need care. This means that we need to be able to recognize A LOT of different conditions, so if someone comes in with an issue that a chiropractor doesn’t deal with, we know to make sure they do seek the right medical professional to get the care they need!
Our swan song at CMCC however, is our clinical internship. This is where we take everything from our past 3 years, and start to apply it to treating and managing patients that come to see us. Consisting of 2, 6 month rotations, normally one placement is right on campus, treating people in the local community (and lots of students), and the other at an external clinical that is associated with the school. At these clinics, we provide discounted services to populations that normally wouldn’t be able to afford them, which exposes us to a lot of different health conditions that we wouldn’t normally see, and can be a really rewarding experience to see patients get relief. During this time frame, we need to complete a certain number of hours spent in the clinic, and have requirements in terms of patient numbers that must be fulfilled upon graduation. At the same time, we have a few courses that we are required to fill.
During our fourth year, we are also required to write licensing exams. The Canadian Chiropractic Examining Board provides a standardize way to license all chiropractors across Canada. If you want to go practice in another country, you have to ensure that your institution is recognize by their governing body, and write the appropriate exams. Canadian Boards are 3 parts, and you’re required to pass all 3 to obtain your license. FINALLY, you have one last exam that is set by the province in which you want to practice in – this mostly is on the legal side of things, and what is included in our scope of practice, what we can and can’t do.
Even though the program has pushed me further than I ever thought, it is so incredibly rewarding – knowing that I get to go in and work with people, solving the “puzzles” that surround patients. If you have any other questions, ask one of amazing chiropractors – Dr. Katie, Dr. Elysse and Dr. Allie, or myself or Katie V. about our experiences with school.
Author: Emily Hubert
Clinical Receptionist | Toronto Chiropractic Student | Treatment Plan Coordinator