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We’ll often have conversations with students at the tail end of their undergrad who are considering med school and seeing where chiropractic falls into that mix.
The academic requirements to complete your doctorate of chiropractic are very similar to medical school. You will have taken as many (if not more) hours in anatomy and other sciences as your medical school counterparts. The board exams are arguably comparable.
Beyond the clinical subject matter differences, a medical doctor will typically spend 3-5 years as an intern/resident. A Doctor of Chiropractic typically goes on to begin practicing in their field immediately after passing their board exams without the need for an additional 3-5 year residency. In fact, most students at Life West complete a preceptorship/internship in their final quarter(s) which provides an additional time & cost savings.
A significant percentage of chiropractic students took a health care and/or science-based academic track during their undergrad. This helps with science curriculum you’ll take during chiropractic school, but being on a pre-med track is by no means a requirement to attend Life West.
Life West typically requires 90 semester units with 24 units life and physical sciences. An admissions representative from Life West would be happy to discuss your transcripts to help you gain clarity on where you stand now.
For students who found a passion for health care later in their undergrad and weren’t necessarily positioned to gain acceptance to med school, chiropractic can offer a very rewarding alternative. While the academic requirements to be successful in chiropractic school are very similar to medical school, the acceptance rates at chiropractic schools tend to be higher.
As you explore chiropractic as an academic path and career choice, you’ll inevitably read terms like vitalism, subluxations, mechanistic and others — many of which aren’t wholly chiropractic-specific but do fall into the varying philosophies of chiropractic care.
Definition of vitalism. 1 : a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from physicochemical forces. 2 : a doctrine that the processes of life are not explicable by the laws of physics and chemistry alone and that life is in some part self-determining
Definition of mechanism. 1 : a system of parts working together in a machine; a piece of machinery.
In conventional medicine, healthcare is believed to be very mechanistic. The body is broken down into its distinct mechanical systems, such as the digestive system, nervous system, integumentary system, and respiratory system, and a different “specialist” is responsible for caring for each individual system.
Chiropractic, from its inception 125 years ago, is rooted in vitalism. As a whole, Life West subscribes to the theory that the human body actively wants to heal itself and that chiropractic care aids in the body in that process — helping to remove the obstacles the body faces in doing what it naturally wants to do.
As an academic institution, we want to be 100% clear that we appreciate the differences between data-backed and data-informed approaches to health care — both in and out of the chiropractic ecosystem.
Life West provides our students with both a broad and detailed understanding of all approaches to chiropractic care, with graduates encouraged to question the philosophies and drive the research into our collective understanding of the human body.
What that means is that Life West students will graduate with the deep, hands-on, clinical experience needed to make the purely mechanistic adjustments taught at schools that only subscribe to a mechanistic approach. Life West goes significantly further however, giving the students the vitalistic theory and approaches that are both data-backed and data-informed to help them be the most well-rounded doctors they can be.
Chiropractors who take a wholly mechanistic approach tend to focus exclusively on treating lower back pain. That in itself is an amazing service to provide to those who need that help and the doctors who take that approach successfully will have rewarding, profitable careers.
For those who decide to take a vitalistic approach to their practices, other doors open to providing meaningful care to their patients. They likely have a broader range of patients whose treatments are more varied – performing chiropractic adjustments that go beyond the lower back.
In short, a vitalistic approach only opens doors. It shuts none.
The word ‘chiropractic’ comes from the Greek words cheir (meaning ‘hand’) and praktos (meaning ‘done’), i.e. Done by Hand. The name was chosen by the developer of chiropractic, Daniel David Palmer.
A prolific reader of all things scientific, DD Palmer realized that although various forms of manipulation had been used for hundreds if not thousands of years, no one had developed a philosophical or scientific rationale to explain their effects. Palmer’s major contribution to the health field was therefore the codification of the philosophy, art and science of chiropractic which was based on his extensive study of anatomy and physiology.
Over the course of 125 years, Chiropractic care has evolved and become in integral component of global health care systems, including major systems here in California such as Kaiser Permanente.
About 100,000 chiropractors are in active practice worldwide, according to the Chiropractic Diplomatic Corps. Recognized by governments in about 50 countries, chiropractic medicine has accreditation organizations that certify schools in Africa (South Africa), the Asia/Pacific region (Australia, Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, and South Korea), Europe (Denmark, France, Spain, Switzerland, and the UK), and North America (Canada and the US).
The US chiropractic industry includes about 39,000 establishments (single-location companies and branches of multi-location companies), representing more than 45,000 licensed chiropractors, with combined annual revenue of about $13 billion.