Answers to Questions about Chiropractic:
Can You Advise about Chiropractic Schools?

Samuel Homola, D.C.

Question

I am interested in chiropractic and am looking over different schools now. One thing I am confused about is what I should major in before applying to any chiropractic school. Of course, it varies, but some schools say that 60 percent of their students already have a medical degree, which is sort of intimidating. I would appreciate any suggestions you might have.

Answer

As of the fall of 2001, the minimum requirement for admission to a chiropractic school was three years of undergraduate work. Four chiropractic schools require a bachelor's degree. Few, if any, applicants to chiropractic schools have a medical degree.

Pre-professional training for admission to a chiropractic school should consist of studies leading to a bachelor of science degree. Chiropractic school consists of four years of education averaging about 4,800 hours. About half of the applicants to chiropractic schools have a bachelor's degree. The grade-point average of students entering a chiropractic school is 2.90, compared to 3.56 for those entering medical school. Virtually all applicants to medical school have at least a bachelor,\'s degree.

Failure rate among graduates of chiropractic schools is high. There are 60,000 chiropractors licensed in the United States. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports that 46,000 chiropractors held jobs in 1998. In 1999, graduates of chiropractic schools accounted for more than one-half of all HEAL (Health Education Assistance Loan) student loan defaults. Chiropractic colleges have much higher default rates than other schools that train health care practitioners.

People considering enrolling in a chiropractic school should compare the cost and requirements of a chiropractic education (and its professional and financial rewards) with that of other health professions before making a decision. Some observers interpret the high student loan default among chiropractors as an indiction that eight years of expensive education may be too big a price to pay for an uncertain future as a chiropractor. The low public acceptance and the high failure rate of chiropractors is due largely to medical science's rejection of the vertebral subluxation theory, which still defines the chiropractic profession.

Other than employment within the chiropractic profession, there are no employment opportunities for chiropractors in research, public health, industry, or academia. All of these factors should be considered when thinking of chiropractic as a career.

____________________

Dr. Homola is a second-generation chiropractor who has dedicated himself to defining the proper limits on chiropractic and to educating consumers and professionals about the field. His 1963 book Bonesetting, Chiropractic, and Cultism supported the appropriate use of spinal manipulation but renounced chiropractic dogma. His 1999 book Inside Chiropractic: A Patient's Guide provides an incisive look at chiropractic's history, benefits, and shortcomings. Now retired after 43 years of practice, he lives in Panama City, Florida.

This page was posted on July 18, 2002.