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How to, why (or why not) become a chiropractor

Are you interested in becoming a chiropractor? Want to learn more about what chiropractic is? What it takes to become a chiropractor? Then this is for you!

I am going to share 

  • some history of chiropractic, 
  • differences between MD’s, DC’s and PT’s, 
  • why I am grateful I chose Chiropractic over Medical Doctorates
  • why you may NOT want to be a chiropractor, 
  • why I became a chiropractor, 
  • one problem I have found in the chiropractic profession, 
  • what I define what a “subluxation” is, 
  • and why I still love being a chiropractor after 20 years of being in practice.


Note: all opinions in this are my own, Dr. Karin Drummond.

Brief history of chiropractic:

If you have googled chiropractic history at all, you will already know DD Palmer is the father of chiropractic. But did you know popping the spine for relief has been around for as long as written history. Even the Egyptian hieroglyphs depict adjustments being performed.

But DD Palmer refined it. You can go to Tialand and have massage therapists walk on your back, and your back may pop and feel good, but chiropractic has perfected the art of finding restrictions and adjusting it. After removing this restriction, this interference of the communication of the mind body, the body is able to heal, so even if the person does not immediately feel better, they are immediately healing better. 

But this is how chiropractic got its reputation of being quackery.

Early chiropractors seeing how the body got better after adjusting, started advertising they could fix everything. Including things like Down’s Syndrome and dementia.

But remember, MD’s used to bleed patients to ride the patients of the “bad blood”. Thankfully MDs and DCs both have learned a lot since then. But the pendulum is now swinging too far the other way. Today most patients know chiropractors and neck and back pain relief doctors, and sadly don’t think to see a chiropractor for their foot pain, bowel complaints or other conditions. Sadly 10% of the population see chiropractors but in reality, most people would benefit from chiropractic care.

Many modern-day chiropractors view themselves as Neck and Back Pain Specialists, as that is the most scientifically proven, and patients often see the improvements in a few visits (so takes less convincing). Things like bowel health are more difficult in that the improvements with each treatment are more subtle (it is hard to tell your pancreas is healing until it is fully functional again).

But even these neck and back specialists admit that their patients often report bonus effects like improvement in the bowel movements, fertility, energy and migraines after treating their spine (despite that not being their focus). 

Plus, with the epidemic of opioid overuse, Chiropractors have been the leaders of non-drug approaches to pain relief to avoid the use of prescription pain medications. Even the American College of Physicians (ACP) updated its guidelines in 2017 to include spinal manipulation before drugs and surgeries. 

 

Difference between MD’s, DC’s and PT’s

 

In my state, Chiropractors are considered PCP’s (primary care physicians). In other states chiropractic scopes range from being limited to the spine (where they can’t even treat extremities) to being able to do minor surgery and OB/GYN.  

There are some chiropractors who do not consider themselves Primary Care Providers but Point of Entry providers, where patients can see them without a referral from a PCP (since they have the education to diagnose, and refer out if needed), but they are not PCPs themselves because they specialize in neck and back pain, and do not treat other ailments.

So how are they different from Physical Therapists. Physical therapists are limited to joint mobilization and muscle therapy, though some states are allowing them to manipulate joints. However, chiropractors specialize in the adjustment, making it safer and more effective. Plus, chiropractors have the potential to be more than just musculoskeletal doctors.

I’m the type of chiropractor who sees herself as a Primary Care Provider because patients come to me for all kinds of ailments. I not only diagnose but treat with natural remedies, which often includes adjustments (but not always). I am biased, but I believe people should see a Primary Care Provider type chiropractor before a Medical Doctor because it is better to try treating without drugs or surgery first because

  1. Safter
  2. Generally cheaper
  3. Usually fixes the root of the problem versus getting rid of a symptom

If you feel better after being treated by a chiropractor it is because you ARE better, not being chemically fooled into feeling better or having to take a drug for your body to function better. 

MD’s are disease focused, meaning they look for a disease to rid your body of. 

  • If they find bacteria, they prescribe you antibiotics.
  • If they find a diseased organ like a gall bladder, tonsil or ovary, they cut it out. 
  • If you have an auto-immune disease, they prescribe drugs that suppress your immune system making you vulnerable to sickness from viruses and bacteria.
  • If you have an inflammatory disease, they prescribe anti-inflammatories instead of getting to the root cause of your inflamed state.
  • If you are in pain, they prescribe pain medication.

Interestingly, because it is not in the scope for chiropractors to prescribe drugs, some view chiropractors as “lesser doctors”. But I say this makes us more impressive, as we have to get you well for you to feel better, we can’t simply mask your symptoms with pills.

With that said, I am grateful for medicine. It is great for emergency use, but not for becoming well.

Chiropractic facilitates the body’s innate ability to heal, by opening the mind-body connection.  They don’t worry about the external causes of diseases like viruses and bacteria. If the body is well, it will successfully fight disease. This is why 10 people can be in a room with a sick person and only a couple get sick. Those that got sick were vulnerable to the bugs. 

What made them vulnerable? There were interferences to the bodies innate ability to heal. 

It could be they were:

  • Deficient in a nutrient, so they could not make enough antibodies.
  • Or there was a restriction in blood flow or lymphatic drainage, because of a restriction in the body. 
  • Or poor GI health which impairs the immune system.
  • But what most chiropractic adjustments affect are the interferences between the brain and body. What chiropractors call a “subluxation”. This negatively impacts everything. In my opinion, Subluxation is mis-understood term, even with chiropractors. I will talk more about this later, because if you are curious about chiropractic, this is a loaded topic.

But for now, I’ll explain it with the analogy I use with my patients.  

The brain is like the conductor and the body’s parts are like the musicians. The musicians can play their part without full vision of the conductor, but they can’t see the conductor, the more chance they will be out of sync with the orchestra, and without the conductor, the orchestra eventually falls apart.

Restrictions in the spine impairs the body and brain’s ability to communicate with each other, it “obstructs the musician’s view of the conductor”. Can you see how this can lead to a dis-eased state, making one vulnerable to disease leading to an eventual diseased state? 

Back in the day, most food was still nutritious, and most people moved enough. So usually the only interference to health was a “subluxation”, so all a chiropractor had to do was adjust the spine and the patient would get better. Today, chiropractors not only need to keep the spine free of restrictions, but encourage the patient to eat well (even some food labeled healthy are not), sleep well (electronic devices and artificial light has made sleeping well more difficult) and move well (more and more people have sit down jobs).

 

Why am I grateful I became a chiropractor and not a medical doctor (as was advised)?

 

My teachers, even my parents, encouraged me to be a medical doctor. I was too smart to be a quack chiropractor. Why be a chiropractor when you could be a “real” doctor?

Here are my top reasons why I love being a chiropractor versus a medical doctor:

  1. My patients enjoy seeing me
    1. My treatments do not involve syringes, knives, or other invasive tools 
    2. I may cause some good pain, and if they don’t leave feeling much better, they at least feel loser and hopeful
  2. I’ve been able to help literally thousands of people avoid surgery and get off their medications that were causing unwanted side effects
  3. My type of patients are generally looking to be well, and stay well, versus being “fixed”
    1. Open to lifestyle changes versus looking for a pill 
  4. The few I couldn’t help personally I helped them throughout their healing journey, interpreting medical jargon to laymen terms and helping them decide their course of action (it is good to have a chiropractor on your health care team)
  5. I get to know my patients on a personal level, like the old-time family doctors of the day
  6. My side effects are good – as mentioned before, bonus if they report other conditions improving, like eczema, dry eyes, etc., unlike the side effects of drugs, which can include death. If I make a mistake, it may cause some discomfort, but not death. I don’t know if I could handle that.
    1. There is a reason our Malpractice is cheap and MD’s pay a fortune
    2. But that is why we go to school for four years, you can learn how to adjust in less than 6 months, but it takes 4 years to learn when NOT to adjust and refer out to a health professional more appropriate, or even the ER. 
    3. IE if someone comes in for neck and jaw pain, but the onset came on suddenly, severely and happened when felt GERD for the first time, without eating anything unusual – you have to know this can be a sign of a dissecting aorta.
    4. Sometimes we do not have the time to fix what is wrong.
    5. This is where modern medicine shines, they are great at fixing ER situations. If a disc blows so bad that nerves are literally being swished to death, you do not have the 2 months it takes to improve the health of the disc which restores space between the bones to get pressure off the nerve. They need pressure off the nerve NOW else there can be permanent nerve damage. But more often than not – we help people get better without drugs or surgery, increasing their chances of 100% recovery as we did not have to cut healthy tissue or damage organs to do it.

 

Why would you NOT want to be a chiropractor?

  • Schooling 
    • 4 years of premed and 4 years to get your doctorate
    • Debt of 200+k to become a chiropractor (and cost increasing every year)
  • Difficulty to find a job that pays well
    • You are lucky to get 75K
  • You need to stay in shape – this is a very physical job (though there are many tools that make it easier on the body, but these are costly)
    • Performing chiropractic care is hard on the body
    • My husband can’t do it any more 
    • After 20 years I am hiring younger chiropractors to do the harder adjustments now
  • You could start your own practice, but school seriously under prepares you on business ownership, so you have an additional 1-3 years working for someone to “learn the ropes” where you will have to learn (often on your own)
  • How to bill insurance
  • Payroll
  • How to pay sales tax, income tax
  • Marketing
    • Marketing is easier today with social media – can do a lot of it for free, but it is harder to stand out (as everyone is on social media – hard to stand out in a loud crowd and get noticed)
  • Website building (or spend thousands hiring it out), SEO
  • Scheduling
  • Systemize what works (KPI, KPA – this is a whole other topic)
  • Hire good staff that fits your culture
  • Run meetings
  • Train staff
  • Hopefully you grow enough to be able to afford an office manager who you can train to do a lot of the business aspects
  • If you do start your own practice, you are likely looking at your first three years
    • Working long hours
    • Making little, no or negative money
    • Keep expenses minimal (luckily all you need to start is a room, a table and a computer for scheduling, charting and billing)
    • If you can’t figure out the business aspect, you will fail
  • If you suck at adjusting, you may fail 
  • Basically, there are NO Guarantees!

 If you are becoming a chiropractor because you are passionate about helping others to be well (or at least pain free) I biased believe chiropractic is the best!

But do NOT go into chiropractic thinking it is an “Easy way” to become a doctor and make good money, because again, there is NO guarantee. 

 Find something you are passionate about. If you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. You will dive into “work” because it is “fun”, which will cause you to become great at it, and money will flow. There are plenty of unsuccessful doctors, lawyers and other professionals who went into the field because it was a good paying job. If you hate it, you will not excel in it.

There are mega successful landscapers, carpenters, electricians, mechanics, even garbage men – seriously, you can grow a multi-million empire collecting garbage!

So, find you passion.

 

Why I became a chiropractor:

 

As far back as I can remember, I wanted to be a doctor. I thought I wanted to become a Medical Doctor, because I loved going to the doctor, because when I did for an earache or sore throat, they would give me medicine that tasted yummy and I would magically feel better.  But then I became really sick by the time I was 11 years old. I had IBS-D so bad I was losing instead of gaining weight. I got so weak I couldn’t even brush my hair. I would go to specialist to specialist, be poked and prodded, imaged and examined. No one could find any disease.

After finding out I was going to have to stay in the hospital as I was at risk of dying after being over-sedated for a procedure, we said enough was enough and my parents took me to the quacks. Come to find out I did not have a disease but a perfect storm of years too many rounds of antibiotics which destroyed the health of my gut. It was the quacks who paved the way to restoring my health through nutrition and adjustments.

The nail on the coffin what when the medical doctors, upon hearing I was improving, disregarded the natural treatment as a co-incidence of time, that I just finally outgrew my condition.

That may be, but it was such strong anecdotal evidence, I was surprised they were not willing to learn more, so they could try in other their other patients that were suffering from IBS.

I went to a seminar that explained chiropractic and how it helped facilitate the body’s ability to be well, and I was hooked. I’ve been passionate about chiropractic ever since, and I was just 11 years old. 

I realized at a very young age that MD’s had to follow their indoctrinations. They had to stay in the safety of the medical box, a box that was built by Big Pharma.

Big Pharma has influenced medical schools to teach medical doctors that medicine can fix everything, that chiropractic is dangerous, and herbs don’t work. They teach that the body must be fixed instead of helped.

Chiropractic is outside of Big Pharma’s reach as it is not in our scope to write prescriptions. Sadly, some chiropractors would like to be able to prescribe some drugs, like muscle relaxers and pain pills for their neck and back pain patients. But I am glad we cannot prescribe drugs for many reasons.

  1. My first one is a little selfish, as we don’t have to worry about drug seekers trying to get us to prescribe them pain pills. This is a real concern and problem in the medical field. I know when my patients are coming in complaining of pain, they are not lying, they are truly looking for relief.
  2. It forces us chiropractors ot help the body truly get well, not mask the pain with drugs. There is no “cheating”. If the patient feels less pain, it is because they are getting better.
  3. It keeps us partnered with the medical doctors. We can refer to an MD if a patient needs a pill. When we “share” patients like this, the MD’s get to see the fruits of our labor, see we are not against medicine, and are not a threat to their profession. Patients will always need their type as care, as accidents, disease and trauma happen, just like we will always have patients who need us, as people have a spine and there is gravity
  4. Shoot, I don’t even have an x-ray machine, as I would rather refer out for x-rays as if I am needing an x-ray, I am worried about a fracture, tumor or needing to see if the patient needs surgery. I do not treat any of that, so it is better to send the patient to a healthcare provider who does, so they can use the imaging they prefer, saving the patient time and money, and the practitioner can see one of my patients who can talk me up, so they know I am not one of “those” chiropractors.

 

This leads me to one of the problems in my chiropractic profession. 

Some "problems" in the chiropractic profession

One "problem" is we do not have consistency in our profession. When you see a chiropractor, without prior research, you have no idea what to expect. We have what I call of rainbow of chiropractors. Some that only adjust hard, some that don’t adjust at all. Some that train patients on how to be well and those that scare patients into thinking they will die if they don’t get adjusted twice a week for the rest of their lives.

But that is also the beauty of the profession. We have the freedom to express the art of chiropractic. Just like art, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. A chiropractor may be the best for one type of patient, but terrible for another.

I have trained chiropractors, interviewed dozens of chiropractors, and hired several over the years. I have listened, read and watched hundreds of videos, podcasts, books even tok-toks on chiropractic.

And I will let you in on another "problem". We are like cats, meaning, trying to gather us to a particular goal is like herding cats.

This weakens our influence in government, making our scopes limited and insurance payments less than other healthcare providers. MDs, PTs and NPs all get payed way more the same services we provide. The new healthcare laws were supposed to fix it, but it is not been enforced. 

So, if you become a chiropractor, please support at least one chiropractic association. I support several, even some I do not completely stand behind.

Remember, some chiropractors want to limit our scope to just neck and back specialists. Evidence based chiropractors just work on what has been “scientifically proven” and don’t attempt to treat outside of the musculoskeletal system. But I say, just because it is not proven does not mean it can’t work. 

For example, it is not been scientifically proven that chiropractic helps with bed wetting, but there is anecdotal evidence it does help. So, if you bring in your child to see if will help them with their bed wetting, yes, I will treat that child. One, it will do no harm, two it may help and three it does not cost that much. In my experience, if it is going to help, you will see signs of improvement within 3 treatments. If no improvement after 6 it is likely the child just needs to grow out of it. We have helped dozens of children just this year with bed wetting, but admittedly not every child. But the ones we did were grateful to learn it was possible and that it worked for them.

Some chiropractors do not even adjust. They just do the myofascial work. I do myofascial work, but nothing compares to the effect of a good adjustment. In seconds it does more than an hour of muscle work.

I hope my profession does not get limited to glorified PT’s. If you do not like adjusting, please do not become a chiropractor, become a PT or MT. They are great professions too.

I became a Doctor of Chiropractic to be a natural primary health practitioner who facilitated healing by removing the interference to health versus masking symptoms, or trying to fix the body for it.

So, what is this interference to health? In a loaded word, “Subluxation”.

What is a "Subluxation"?

One chiropractic definition of “subluxation” is “A spinal vertebra that is out of position relative to other spinal vertebra, possibly resulting in functional loss.” 

Understandably, some modern chiropractors do not even like the term because medically speaking, there is no such thing. So us chiropractors can not even agree on the foundation of our profession! But I get it. How can a bone be a little out of place and cause sickness, disease or pain? 

Look at people with scoliosis. People with scoliosis have a mild to seriously crooked spine, and those with mild to moderate scoliosis still lead healthy and productive lives with a life expectancy that is relatively normal. I personally have patients with severe scoliosis who remain functional and well with regular chiropractic adjustments.

Plus, there is a lack of science to support the subluxation theory. Notice I said lack of evidence, not evidence against it.

There are scientific studies that showed no two chiropractors could agree on the exact malalignment type but even the exact bone, but they could agree on the general location of the subluxation. 

Even when an x-ray was taken of the spine to find the subluxation, minor positional errors would cause different “subluxations” in different regions of the spine.

So, let me share with you what I have found over my 20+ years and 10k+ patients what a “Subluxation” is.

It is an area, not limited to the spine, where muscles are imbalanced, affecting not just the position or the function of the joint between two bones, but the blood flow, the lymphatic drainage and the nerve supply.  Can you see how this can negatively impact the function and or healing of not just that region, but the tissues beyond that region.

Can you see how if the mid-back has a “subluxation” (rigid in hyper kyphosis), how it can irritate not just the nerves exiting the spine at that level, but irritate the sympathetic nervous system at that level (which controls the fight or flight response) which can negatively impact the GI?

This is why adjusting the mid-back helps the upper GI. Adjusting the low back helps the lower GI, fertility of women and helps with ED in men.

I have witness countless miracles in my 20+ years and I am not alone. Again, even the neck and back pain specialist chiropractors cannot deny their patients report these positive side effects as well, and these chiropractors did not even mean to have these effects! 

You don’t have to believe chiropractic is more than neck and back pain relief, just like you don’t have to believe in gravity, it just is.

My job is simple. Find restrictions and free them, soften tight muscles, show how to strengthen lose muscles, stabilize lose joints, support the foundation (feet) if needed, educate on how to eat, sleep and move well so they can better hold the benefit of their chiropractic adjustment, and the body FIXES ITSELF, yet I OFTEN GET THE CREDIT 

How awesome of a job is that? I hope this helps explain chiropractic to you and helps clarify is chiropractic is your calling in life.

Until next time, stay well.

Dr. Karin Drummond

Owner of Drummond Chiropractic.

I want to be a chiropractor! Now what?

OK, now you have no doubt. Chiropractic is you calling. Next step is which chiropractic University to go to? 

Chiropractic Universities to definitely check out:

Logan University

Logan University
"Where Leaders Are Made"

Logan University is were Dr. Mandi McCoy, Dr. Michael McCoy and Dr. Henry Smaltz graduated with their Doctorate of Chiropractic.

"At Logan, the curriculum is evidence-informed and grounded in the Logan tradition, infused with current research and the latest technology. Providing hands-on instruction in 15 proven techniques, Logan lets you choose from a variety of clinical opportunities and electives, including business classes taught by a leading MBA program. With a DC degree from Logan, you’ll be more than ready to take your place at the forefront of integrated health care."

To learn more, check out:

https://www.logan.edu/academic...

Parker

Parker University
Doctor of Chiropractic 

Parker University hosts the biggest (and in my opinion best) chiropractic seminars. The chiropractors here at Drummond Chiropractic attend their continuing education seminars yearly, regardless of the continuing education requirements.

"While completion of a bachelor’s degree is not a requirement for admission, some states require a bachelor’s degree as a condition of licensure. Parker University offers a Bachelor of Science in Anatomy and Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness which eligible students can complete concurrently with the Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Prospective students should familiarize themselves with the licensure requirements of the states in which they intend to practice by visiting www.fclb.org."

To learn more, check out:

https://www.parker.edu/doctor-...

Western States University of Chiropractic

University of Western States

Dr. Karin Drummond and Dr. Dallas Drummond are graduates of UWS.

https://www.uws.edu/doctor-of-...


Cleveland University of Chiropractic 

https://www.cleveland.edu

Other schools to check out:

Northeast College of Health Sciences

https://www.northeastcollege.e...

New York Chiropractic College

https://www.nycolleges.org/ins...


Palmer College of Chiropractic 

In high school? Check out:

https://www.palmer.edu/admissi...

Have questions? Feel free to call us!
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Drummond Chiropractic, LLC
Best Chiropractors in Bloomington
565 N Walnut St
Bloomington, IN 47404
(812) 336 - 2423

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Our Location: Drummond Chiropractic

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