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It’s a myth that’s as old as it is untrue: “Chiropractors aren’t real doctors.” This unfortunate misconception has permeated popular culture and has likely kept many potential patients from receiving effective, drug-free and non-invasive treatments for musculoskeletal system issues. The notion that chiropractors aren’t real doctors is patently untrue: Chiropractors are real doctors. Here’s why:

  1. Chiropractors Must Be Degreed and Licensed in Their State In Order To Practice. Students attend chiropractic college after completing a Bachelor degree to obtain a Doctorate of Chiropractic (DC) degree. Chiropractors are licensed as health care providers in every U.S. state. Once chiropractic students graduate, they have to pass national board exams as well as state board exams in the states where they want to practice. As medical professionals, chiropractors are subject to testing, licensing, and monitoring by state and national peer-reviewed boards as well as continuing education requirements.


  1. Chiropractors Undergo Extensive Training. Becoming a chiropractor takes 8 to 9 years of post-secondary education. According to the American Chiropractic Association “The typical applicant at a chiropractic college has already acquired nearly four years of pre-medical undergraduate college education, including courses in biology, inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, psychology and related lab work. Once accepted into an accredited chiropractic college, the requirements become even more demanding — four to five academic years of professional study are the standard. Because of the hands-on nature of chiropractic, and the intricate adjusting techniques, a significant portion of time is spent in clinical training.”

Like other primary health care doctors, chiropractic students spend a significant portion of their curriculum in clinical settings evaluating and caring for patients. In total, the Doctorate of Chiropractic curriculum includes a minimum of 4,200 hours of classroom, laboratory, and clinical experience. The curriculum at chiropractic colleges is extremely rigorous and shares many similarities to medical school. Truth be told, chiropractors actually have more hours of classroom education than their medical school counterparts.

  1. Federal and State Health Care Programs Including Medicare and Workers’ Compensations Cover Chiropractic Care. Many work injuries involve the back, and employees are able to choose a chiropractor as their treating physician under Worker’s Compensation. The Division of Federal Employees’ Compensation (DFEC) website states, “You have the right to select the first doctor who treats you for your injury.” In a later paragraph it continues, “The FECA recognizes chiropractors as physicians.” It does limit the scope of services a chiropractor can render to “manual manipulations” which is only to be expected. Obviously someone with an eye injury wouldn’t choose a chiropractor as their primary doctor – but they are the ideal choice for the large number of back injuries that occur on the job every year. Exact policies vary state-to-state.

As a federally run program, all seniors enrolled in Medicare have coverage for chiropractic care.


  1. The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Defense Offer Chiropractic Care. The Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs recognize the critical need for chiropractic services. An act of Congress established a permanent chiropractic benefit for both active duty military personnel and veterans. Doctors of Chiropractic serve at US military bases around the world and there is a chiropractor stationed at the US Capitol to provide care for members of Congress. Veterans can receive chiropractic care at the nation’s major VA hospitals or be reimbursed for services provided by local Doctors of Chiropractic.


  1. All Federal Agencies Accept Sick-Leave Certificates Signed by Doctors of Chiropractic. Need a sick note for work? If you are a federal employee, a note from your chiropractor is just as good as an MD note.
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