chiropractic education

Something You Probably Haven’t Been Told About Chiropractic Education 

Can chiropractors fulfill a larger role in the US healthcare system?

This entry helps to spotlight the advanced capabilities of chiropractic students. Also, there are some in the medical field that would scoff at the idea of a chiropractor being in the role of a primary care provider. The idea may not be as far-fetched as they might have you believe or believe themselves. 

Let us consider some things. We hear repeatedly that there is a shortage of physicians. We are witnessing physician assistants and nurse practitioners gaining more and more scope and ability as the years pass in an attempt to fill the void.  In addition, with more stress, electronic health record demands, and documentation demands, many in the medical field are choosing to retire early and get out of the game completely.  

One can also take into consideration the rise in the popularity of alternative healthcare options. Considering all factors at hand, it is my argument that the chiropractic profession has the ability to step up its game and help fill the gaps that may eventually be left. For example, in New Mexico, doctors of chiropractic can attend two more years of school to become designated as an advanced practitioner and even have prescriptive rights.

Another option is to attend extra education to become a Primary Spine Practitioner. As of now, this course is offered through the University of Pittsburgh and its graduates act as spine condition gatekeepers in which they triage the care of these patients and either treat them themselves or are trained to coordinate the care with the appropriate specialist. 

See? It is not as far-fetched as you may have thought.  

This research paper suggests that there would be very little work left to do in regards to getting chiropractic students up to speed in order for them to fulfill the primary care role. With that being said, on to the research. 

Why they did it

The authors stated research goal was to take a closer look at chiropractic education and chiropractic students’ knowledge of primary care tasks in comparison to their counterparts in the medical schools. 

How They Did It·     

  • Three samples of chiropractic student were used versus one sample of medical students.·     
  • They were given tests regarding the knowledge of primary care tasks·     
  • The tests were given to final term chiropractic students as well as medical students that were entering their residency programs 

What They Found·     

The chiropractic students scored below the medical students on the exam in every area except for the musculoskeletal conditions.·      The chiropractors scored higher than the medical students on the musculoskeletal portion. 

Wrap It Up

In this paper, while medical students did score better in all aspects other than the musculoskeletal portion, it is to be noted that the chiropractic students performed almost as well.  

Basically, if medical school is what we measure primary care education by, then the fact that chiropractic students scored almost as well as the medical students is worth spotlighting, recognizing, realizing, and discussing.


- Sandefur R, e.a., “Assessment of knowledge of primary care activities in a sample of medical and chiropractic students.”. J Manipulative Physiol Ther, Jun 2005. 28(5): p. 336-44.




Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is a Fellowship-trained Neuromusculoskeletal specialist and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast. Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected]


Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Care at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109

Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP

Jeff S Williams, DC, FIANM, DABFP


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