4 Career Paths Aspiring Chiropractors Should Consider
By Wendy L. Maneri, Ed.D, D.C.
Associate Dean of Chiropractic Clinical Education and Health Centers
With rapidly changing technology, rising healthcare costs, and evidence-based patient care and research opportunities, doctors of chiropractic have positioned themselves as leaders in the field of healthcare.
Over the last few years, more insurance companies have covered the costs of chiropractic services and begun reimbursing the costs of chiropractic care in the hospital setting. This has meant that the chiropractic profession has seen significant growth in new patients and professional demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of chiropractors is projected to grow seven percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average growth of all other occupations.
Chiropractors work in hospital-based multidisciplinary settings, in Veteran's Administration (VA) Medical Centers, and in rehabilitation centers that specialize in treating issues such as opioid addiction. Northeast's initiation of the first-ever chiropractic residency with the VA led the way for the establishment of additional such residencies across the country, and Northeast now serves as the academic affiliate for two of the programs.
While many new chiropractors enter private practice, it is important to note there are many types of opportunities that a graduate of Northeast's Doctor of Chiropractic program can choose to pursue. Here are a few career paths for future chiropractors to consider:
1)Teaching - Doctors of chiropractic are qualified to teach at the undergraduate level. As healthcare providers who educate their patients regularly, it seems natural that many chiropractors find and pursue their passion for teaching. Programs like Northeast's M.S. in Human Anatomy & Physiology Instruction (in which many students enroll simultaneously with their doctoral program) provide specialization in healthcare and teaching at the same time.
Dr. Erica Callahan (D.C. '07, MSACN '10) is a chiropractor and assistant professor at Northeast. Dr. Callahan began her career at the College as a nutritional fellow, earning a master's degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition (MSACN) and working as a chiropractic clinician.
"The best part of being an educator and clinician is the challenge to stay updated on best practices," said Dr. Callahan. "In working with students, I am constantly challenged to give them the best education possible. This may mean often reviewing basic human physiology and anatomy, searching through current healthcare literature and clinical practice guidelines, and 'slowing down' to critically consider whole body differential diagnoses and treatment options in each case we manage. I learn something new every day!"
Dr. Wendy Maneri (D.C. '99), Northeast associate dean for chiropractic clinical education and health centers, says, "In my role as an administrator, I have the best of both worlds. I get to do something different every day and am still able to see patients and work with students. I am also lucky enough to be able to help change and grow the profession on a more global scale."
2)Residency - Residency opportunities in chiropractic are typically paid postgraduate positions that offer additional training in a particular area of interest. For example, the Northeast Masters of Science in Diagnostic Imaging residency allows students to further expand their knowledge in the field of radiology and develop opportunities to build their experience through private radiology reading practices.
Another option at Northeast, the chiropractic residency in the Veterans Administration medical centers, is a hands-on clinical experience providing a more in-depth opportunity to explore complex patients while discovering an appreciation for serving the nation's veterans in a postgraduate learning environment.
3)Hospitals or Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) - Doctors of chiropractic have a strong foundation of medical knowledge that can be applied in many areas of healthcare. Chiropractors are often hired by independent hospitals to provide patient care or are hired by HMOs as consultants.
4)Private practice opportunities - Many graduates decide to pursue either associate positions or starting their own practice. As a private practitioner, doctors of chiropractic can pursue almost any area of interest or specialty that they desire. Chiropractors can choose to focus on pediatrics or pregnancy, sports and performance-related opportunities, and even emphasize nutrition. While most chiropractors see a variety of patients and help treat many conditions, these specialties provide patients with the option to choose a chiropractor who is an expert in condition or need.
Aspiring chiropractors should be sure to consider their career goals as they enter graduate school and prepare for success. Experiential and clinical learning opportunities -- like those offered at Northeast -- allow students to see all of the many possibilities available to them.