man giving woman chiropractic exam

Career Spotlight: Chiropractor

What is a chiropractor?

Chiropractors are health care professionals that diagnose and treat health problems related to the nervous, muscular and skeletal systems, particularly the spine, without the use of drugs or surgery. Most chiropractors aim to reduce pain and improve the functionality of patients as well as to educate them on how they can account for their own health via exercise, ergonomics and other therapies to treat back pain.

There are lots of avenues for work as a chiropractor throughout their career.

New graduates have the opportunity to work as locums (temporary relief workers) or as associates of established clinics. They may also set up their own practices. Research and teaching positions may be available in some areas.

Established chiropractors usually work in their own private practice or in clinics with other healthcare professionals. They may also act as allied health consultants in areas such as occupational health and safety, sport, rehabilitation, health insurance assessment and medico-legal advising.

Job prospects depend on consumer demand for drug-free approaches to health care, both in Australia and throughout the world. Chiropractic care has recently become more accepted as a result of research and changing attitudes about alternative, drug-free, non-invasive healthcare practices. Prospects are also likely to be affected by an increase in the number of elderly people in the population, as this group is more likely to experience health problems that are treatable by chiropractors. Demand is also affected by the extent to which chiropractic services are covered by private health insurance providers.

What does a chiropractor do?

Some common chiropractic tasks include:

  • Noting patients’ case history details, conduct physical examinations and interpreting diagnostic imaging studies such as X-rays
  • Adjusting patients’ spine or other joints to correct joint dysfunctions interfering with proper nervous system control and integration of body function
  • Treating patients by adjusting the spinal column to manipulate joints and soft tissues
  • Conducting specialised work such as sports chiropractic, paediatrics, diagnostic imaging or various chiropractic techniques
  • Giving advice about general health matters such as exercise and nutrition
  • Performing pre-employment examinations and workplace assessments
  • Providing certificates for insurance and work-related purposes

They are also responsible for:

  • Designing, reviewing monitoring, assessing and evaluating treatment programs
  • Ensuring patients, their partners, families and friends understand their therapeutic procedures and how they can improve their health and wellbeing
  • Recording patient medical histories, treatments delivered and the patients’ responses and progress to treatments
  • Planning and discussing effective management of a patients’ dysfunction
  • Administering a variety of tests to identify and assess physical problems and ailments of patients
  • Referring patients to specialists and liaises with other health professionals in relation to patients’ problems, needs and progress

Are you suited to be a chiropractor?

On a personal level, pursing a chiropractic career is largely suited to people who enjoy health sciences, have strong interpersonal skills and an ability to think and work independently. They also have good attention to detail, a strong analytical ability and are good performing manual tasks.

There are various courses available to become a qualified chiropractor. Usually, this includes completing a degree in chiropractic science at university. Prerequisite subjects are generally having adept knowledge in English, mathematics and chemistry.