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Chiropractor Duties and Responsibilities

The type of organization chiropractors work for greatly determines the duties and responsibilities they can expect to undertake. Based on job listings we analyzed, a chiropractor's duties typically involve:

Assess Medical Conditions Before performing a physical assessment, chiropractors talk with the patient to review their medical history and any concerns they have. This involves taking detailed notes about any previous injuries and surgeries as well as the patient's general health and lifestyle.

Conduct Tests A chiropractor assesses a patient's posture and reflexes through a number of tests, looking for musculoskeletal conditions or misalignment and taking X-rays to determine where the issue is that might be causing the patient's symptoms.

Provide Therapy The chiropractor's main task is providing musculoskeletal therapy. This includes adjusting the spinal column and other joints to alleviate pain, using massage therapy, or giving additional treatments, such as applying hot or cold presses to painful joints.

Counsel Patients Sometimes a patient's problems stem from their diet or lifestyle, so a chiropractor advises them on ways that they can utilize exercise, nutrition, and sleep habits to help improve their symptoms. Where necessary, the patient may need to be referred to other healthcare professionals.

Write Notes Once the appointment is over, chiropractors write up notes from the session with any suggestions made, particularly if the patient is coming in for regular treatment, as these notes inform future sessions. If the patient has been referred, chiropractors carry out the necessary administrative tasks to put this in place.


Chiropractor Skills and Qualifications

Chiropractors need to be great communicators with strong time management, organizational, and decision-making skills in order to determine the best course of treatment. Employers require staff to have a doctor of chiropractic degree, along with the following abilities:
  • Interpersonal skills - working as a chiropractor involves speaking with colleagues and patients every day, and strong communication and listening skills ensure important information doesn't get missed and that patients are put at ease during appointments
  • Dexterity - chiropractors use their hands to perform manual adjustments and massage therapies to the spine and other joints, so strong coordination skills are important to do these procedures safely and effectively
  • Observational skills - being detail-oriented and observant helps spot misalignments or small details that could be contributing to a patient's symptoms
  • Critical thinking abilities - this role requires approaching problems or situations logically and thinking critically to solve issues and diagnose patients effectively. Strong critical thinking skills help chiropractors examine factors that might be contributing to symptoms that may otherwise be overlooked
  • Empathy - chiropractors need to be able to display sensitivity and empathy when dealing with patients who are in pain and experiencing discomfort

Chiropractor Education and Training

Chiropractors need to have a postgraduate doctor of chiropractic (DC) degree, which typically takes four years to complete and at minimum of three years of undergraduate education for admission. They also need a state license to work with patients. Specific license requirements vary by state, but all require the completion of an accredited DC program and successful completion of all four parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners exam.

Chiropractor Salary and Outlook

Chiropractors earn a median annual salary of $67,000. The lowest 10 percent earn around $32,000, while the highest paid earn over $141,000 a year. Earnings can vary depending on the level of experience and number of years in practice a chiropractor has, as well as their location. Chiropractors tend to earn more as they build up a solid client base and become either an owner of or partner in a practice. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that this sector will grow by 12 percent through 2026.

Chiropractor Helpful Resources

We've collected some of the best resources to help you achieve a successful career as a chiropractor:

Osteopathic and Chiropractic Techniques for Manual Therapists - Mixing the techniques of osteopathy and chiropractic, this is an easy-to-follow reference guide that any manual therapist will benefit from. It provides clear instructions for treating a variety of musculoskeletal conditions and illustrated references for different methods.

Fundamentals of Chiropractic - An overview of chiropractic philosophy and principles, this book addresses scientific issues within this field. It's ideal for students in the chiropractic community who want to review a range of key questions and content. Discover Chiropractic - This chiropractic website has a useful collection of resources, from videos and facts to relevant news articles and events. It's a great way to stay up-to-date with the latest findings and citations in this field.

Spine-Health - The Spine-Health blog covers a range of musculoskeletal-related topics, from sciatica to exercise and fitness. It's updated regularly with interesting and useful content that will benefit those in training.

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