5 Things to Consider for a Successful Chiropractic Career
So you’re thinking about becoming a chiropractor. What kinds of things down the road will be important to your career satisfaction? In the following, we’ll explore important considerations for a successful chiropractic career.
Career Services at Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU), which helps students and alumni with their career development, recently hosted a webinar with recruitment specialists Bianca Cooper and Cassidy Russell from Chiropractic Jobs Online (CJO). (You can watch the full webinar here.)
CJO is a recruitment and career development firm specializing in the chiropractic field. In the following, we’ll use their insights to help explore five key factors that can play a significant role in shaping your career.
We’ll also include our own expertise to help. Plus, we’ll share bonus information on the importance of internships and describe qualities that are important for being a chiropractor. Since our founding in 1941, more than 5,000 chiropractors have graduated from the NWHSU chiropractic program.
5 Pillars for career satisfaction
CJO identifies five factors—or “pillars”—that will play a significant role in your chiropractic career path:
- Practice style
- Patient care
Let’s look at each one in more detail.
1. Technique: What techniques will you want to use?
Your training and clinical experiences will involve applying specific types of chiropractic techniques. With around 200 techniques used to treat patients today, the chances are high that once you’re in the job market, you’ll see openings involving techniques you’re not familiar with.
Bianca says your eventual job search should reflect the types of techniques you’re experienced with and are interested in. That means you should pay attention to the techniques that clinics use. “Don’t waste your time applying for a job that you don’t feel aligned with,” she says.
Of course, there may be unfamiliar techniques you still want to learn about. That’s when you should attend seminars and seek additional training, says Bianca.
In addition, as you consider chiropractic schools, it’s important to understand that those with robust community-based internship programs empower students to have a wider range of experiences with various chiropractic techniques. In turn, that will allow you to enter the job market as a more informed and experienced chiropractor.
2. Practice style: What type of practice will fit with your interests?
So your eventual chiropractic career will involve using specific chiropractic techniques. But another important factor that will influence your career is the type of practice at which you’ll work.
Based on the experience you’ll gain in your training and your internships, Bianca says you’ll want to consider this important question: “What patients did you really enjoy making a difference with?”
Many chiropractic offices function as family practices, providing services to a wide range of patients. There are also other kinds of practices that specialize in areas like:
- Underserved populations
- People with personal injuries
- People undergoing rehabilitation
In addition, some practices focus on providing sports-related chiropractic treatment or on offering an integrative healthcare approach that includes massage therapy and acupuncture.
If you don’t think seriously about the practice style you prefer, Bianca says you could end up working somewhere that ultimately doesn’t fit with your career interests.
3. Patient care: What kind of work pace will you like?
Once you make it to the internship phase of your education, make a concerted effort to understand how a given practice delivers care, particularly in how it handles the pace of patient appointments, says Cassidy.
Some chiropractic offices move a higher volume of patients through their appointments each day. Others are set up to allow chiropractors more individual time with each patient. You’ll want to try to gain a sense of what feels right for you.
4. Involvement: What job roles could you be interested in beyond actual chiropractic care?
A lot goes into a successfully functioning chiropractic clinic. As you consider the type of practice you may want to work at, Bianca says you also want to think about your level of involvement with day-to-day duties beyond chiropractic care.
Examples include the following:
- Marketing. This could include posting on social media, helping with email campaigns, contributing to the chiropractic office’s website content, and doing interviews with local media.
- Management. Bianca points out that joining some practices could involve leadership roles such as managing chiropractic assistants, massage therapists, personal trainers, and others. “You need to know whether you’re a confident leader or not,” she says.
- Finance and administration. Some practices, especially larger ones, will have staff who handle duties related to office management, billing, and insurance. On the other hand, smaller practices may require you to be proficient in these areas—or at least expect that they can train you to become proficient.
Note that if you hope to one day own and operate your own practice, Bianca says gaining experience with marketing, management, and finance can play an invaluable role in preparing you to run your own business.
Again, your internship experiences can provide you with helpful insights on the additional roles chiropractors can have at a practice.
5. Lifestyle: What kind of life will you want—and where will you want to live?
Your chiropractic education and training will prepare you for a lot. But when it comes to the lifestyle you’ll want once you’re a practicing chiropractor, it’s up to you to consider important details like these:
Think carefully (and get specific) about location. Once you’re in the job market, stresses Bianca, you really want to think seriously about the specific locations you’re willing to work.
She also warns against blindly applying for jobs all over the place. Think about your family, your friends, and your partner, says Bianca. “Where are you going to actually be happy living?” Even if you end up liking the job itself, if you’re not happy in your personal life, you probably won’t end up staying long, she says.
Match your short- and long-term goals. “Think about where you want to be in the future before you start to plan out your path,” says Cassidy. More specifically, she says you need to make sure your short- and long-term goals match.
For example, let’s say your short-term goal is to have more days off for leisure time. But you also have a long-term goal of making a higher than average chiropractor salary. These likely aren’t compatible goals.
“It’s important to have goals that work together so you can actually prosper in your career,” says Cassidy.
The importance of your internship experiences
One major way you can prepare for a satisfying career in chiropractic care is by attending a school with an excellent internship program.
For example, at NWHSU we realize that your clinical internships have the potential to shape your interests, your career, and your life. Through our vast network of healthcare connections in the Twin Cities Metro Area and beyond, we help students find rewarding internships.
NWHSU also has multiple clinics of our own, both on and off campus, that serve the public. These enable our chiropractic students to conveniently work with practicing clinicians and gain hands-on experience with real patients.
To learn more about the internship experience of our chiropractic students, check out this video on NWHSU’s community-based internships.
Is a chiropractic career right for you?
Attending chiropractic school will obviously help you acquire the technical skills and knowledge you need to be a chiropractor. But there are also other considerations. As you explore the possibility of a career as a chiropractor, keep qualities like the following in mind. Do you see yourself in them?
You’re interested in gaining a deep understanding of the human body. A chiropractic education involves extensive study in human anatomy and physiology, in addition to training in areas like diagnosis and orthopedics. You’ll apply this knowledge every day when you provide chiropractic care.
You enjoy providing hands-on treatment to numerous patients each day. Being a chiropractor means delivering actual treatment during patient visits. In fact, manual, or hands-on, therapy is at the core of chiropractic treatment. This makes it a much more patient-centered clinical encounter compared to, say, a medical doctor visit in which a patient is sent off with a prescription.
You like talking with people and listening closely to their needs and concerns. Interpersonal skills are crucial for chiropractors. They also need to have empathy and patience, and an ability to put people at ease. In other words, chiropractic care involves both a physical and an emotional component.
You have an entrepreneurial spirit. Though not every chiropractor wants or needs to open their own practice, many do. They must understand the factors that go into running a business successfully and address responsibilities related to things like billing and accounting, marketing, and office management.
Stay mindful of the factors that make a rewarding career (and use the tips above)
Exploring the possibility of a chiropractic career is an exciting time! As you continue your search and eventually begin your chiropractic education, try to remain mindful of what a satisfying career—and life—will look like to you. Following the tips above can help.