After 33 years in practice it becomes painfully obvious that there remains an almost obscene lack of understanding and respect for the relative diagnostic and clinical capabilities and the educational background of Chiropractic Physicians vs the Medical Doctor’s educational requirements in the community at large. Not a week goes by that I don’t come in contact with an insurance adjuster, attorney, medical physician, or patient who holds a completely incorrect understanding of the comprehensive nature and quality of the chiropractic communities educational doctorate requirements. “Well Doc, how are you going to help my wife’s fibro, peripheral neuropathy, thyroid, IBS, dizziness, vertigo, migraines, etc when the medical doctors at Stanford, Mayo, Kaiser, John Hopkins, etc could not figure it out?” Chiropractors aren’t real doctors are they? They just crack bones right? In fact last week it was the relative of a local doctor who wrote on Facebook that she didn’t think I was a “real doctor” and that I shouldn’t be dealing with thyroid problems as they are serious and should only be handled by “real doctors”.
For the record I am not dogmatically anti-medicine as many of my “alternative” patients and practitioner friends. Our office works closely with many doctors in the medical community in many of our chronic pain cases. But the educational requirements for the M.D. degree (Doctor of Medicine) are often exaggerated, and those for the D.C. degree (Doctor of Chiropractic) are often misunderstood and disrespected. In addition most patients and M.D.’s don’t understand that the medical education is more appropriate to assess and treat pathological (cancers, broken bones, heart attacks, etc) and acute (colds, flus, pneumonia, infections, inflammations, etc) conditions. In fact the M.D. education teaches the medical community that chronic pain and chronic conditions are idiopathic (no known cause) which may have genetic or environmental influences. That they can not be stopped, reversed or cured and that they are to be managed by medicine (drugs) and surgeries while the patient expectantly declines. Chiropractic Physicians (and “alternative” practitioners in general) receive a different – not inferior – viewpoint on the nature of comprehensive healthcare and a more targeted and comprehensive education in the diagnoses and non-drug management of both acute and especially the above mentioned chronic conditions. Though in the medical literature it is understood that many chronic and acute conditions cannot be cured most chiropractic education is directed toward the studies that indicate these conditions can frequently be stopped, reversed, and managed without drugs or surgery.
Consider the following comparisons of selected course hours at Parker Chiropractic College vs Harvard and Stanford Medical Schools. Although each has its own specialties (nutritional education and manipulation versus pharmaceutical classes) the hours of class room instruction are about the same, however in several important common courses the emphasis of those courses hours differs significantly.
Doctor of Chiropractic
Doctor of Medicine
|161 Hours||Biochemistry/Chemistry||100 Hours|
|408 Hours||Diagnosis||113 Hours|
|149 Hours||Neurology||171 Hours|
|56 Hours||Psychology/Psychiatry||323 Hours|
|271 Hours||X-Ray||13 Hours|
|168 Hours||Orthopedics (and Manual Therapy)||2 Hours|
|699 Hours||Anatomy + Physiology||215 Hours|
|296 Hours||Pathology||507 Hours|
The above comparisons of subject hours and the heavy emphasis for Chiropractors in certain subjects (Biochemistry, Diagnosis, X-ray, Orthopedics, and very close hours in Neurology) not only is indicative of the strength of the Chiropractic Physician’s education but emphasizes those subject’s necessity to be a competent practitioner in the fields of both acute and chronic conditions. To be able to take a proper history and determine the best exam and testing procedures to use in any type of case you must be conversant Biochemistry, Anatomy, Physiology, Orthopedics, and Neurology subjects to which Chiropractic Colleges devote significant amounts of hours. To diagnose chronic conditions requires a much more general understanding of all areas of the body – as represented by the emphasis on the hours of Chiropractic education. The 408 hours of diagnosis education in Chiropractic College versus the 113 hours in med school does not necessarily indicate superiority of one doctorate over another, but instead is simply an indication of the difference in therapeutic models. The medical model depends far more on standard/advanced testing much more than thorough history and exams. The diagnostic model for MD’s leads to referral to “specialists” (who get their specialty education separately from the above mentioned hours) and ultimately a treatment of drugs or surgery. A much simpler model than learning to find out what systems of the patient’s physiology are not functioning correctly and addressing the complete physiology of the body without drugs or surgery but instead with diet, manipulation, exercise, herbs, vitamins, botanicals, etc.
Is one education better than the other? Depends on what condition you are suffering from and which one is better for you. That is the point. Clearly MD’s are well educated in the drug and surgical model, Chiropractors however, without question, are as well educated in standard diagnostic procedures, but more specifically educated in the chemical and therapeutic fields of non-drug and non-surgical interventions into both acute and chronic conditions. Two excellent educations, two different approaches to similar problems with each education appropriate to their specific discipline and approach. It’s as simple as that.
Presenting information to a trusting public that contradicts the humans well entrenched false beliefs regarding specific topics – ie are Chiropractors real doctors – or more specifically are medical doctors “superior” to chiropractic physicians, is not often well received. With television (Marcus Welby, ER, drug commercials) singing the praises of the medical model of care and other shows (2 1/2 men) demeaning chiropractic along with mass media chronicling hundreds of medical studies and “breakthroughs” around the world each day it’s no wonder people have no realistic understanding of the comprehensive training and diagnostic skills possessed by the graduates of the chiropractic doctorate programs.
So the answer the question – yes Chiropractor’s are “real doctors” and now you know why.
- International Conference on Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine. Copyright 2013, Vasquez, A. D.C, O.D, N.D, F.A.C.N. Introduction to “Funtional Inflammology Protocol”, “Antipheumatic Antimicrobiotic and Endocrine Interventions, Pg 13
- Medical School Admission Requirements 1997-1998: United States and Canada, 47thEdition (Published by the Association of American Medical Colleges.)
- Educational Requirements for Accredited Chiropractic Schools are Available through and Dictated by the council on Chiropractic Colleges (The Agency Appointed by the U.S. Department of Education to Accredited Chiropractic Colleges)
- Educational Requirements for Admissions to Medical and Chiropractic College, and for the M.D. Degree (Doctor of Medicine) and D.C. degree (Doctor of Chiropractic), The Grisanti Report, Pages 1-3. 18, December 2013. http://www.yourmedicaldetective.com/drgrisanti/mddc.htm