Posted by: Tanya Bindl, D. C. | February 7, 2013

Second Wednesday Myth Buster: Chiropractors aren’t real doctors.

Myth: Chiropractors aren’t real doctors.

This is probably the most clingy, undying myth of all when it comes to chiropractic care.  It is the cockroach of chiropractic myths, if you will.  My younger sister actually watches a TV show called “The Mindy Project”, where the main character, who is a gynecologist,  repeatedly discredits alternative forms of medicine.  It must be stated that, during the one episode that I agreed to watch, this character doesn’t directly call out chiropractors exclusively… but she does indeed seemingly perpetuate the stigma of what makes something real medicine (ie: drugs, surgery) and what makes something supposedly “fake” medicine.

As a chiropractor, these myths always strike close to home, but none so much as this one, which seems to suggest that the work I put in to receive the title of doctor is somehow inferior to others who have that title.  I also have told my sister to stop watching this show…

In order to receive a chiropractic degree, one must:

* Complete extensive and challenging undergrad prerequisites.  These prerequisites are mostly science based – organic chemistry. microbiology, biochemistry, etc. although the degree of study is left to the candidate’s digression.

* Complete four years of graduate level courses at an accredited chiropractic institution.  These graduate levels are organized in to trimesters, which allows for a lot of information in a shorter space of time.

* Complete an internship at an accredited chiropractic institution.

* Complete and pass rigorous National Board examinations.

Some Other Facts:

Hours of study – students studying to become medical doctors average about 4,670 hours of study, while students studying to become a chiropractor average about 4,820.  These numbers are averages and do come from the American Chiropractic Association, but there is no way that the ACA would manipulate the findings or that the findings are weighed down by bias – doing such would discredit the whole organization, something that ACA would never be willing to do.  These are facts.

Clinical experience – medical doctors have more post graduate clinical experience, as graduates complete residencies.  However, as chiropractic care is non-invasive, meaning that surgeries are not required, residencies are not needed for chiropractic care.

As stated above, chiropractic care is not invasive, something that is too often overlooked.  Why does cutting and invading the body make more sense then approaching health care with a much more natural approach?

Chiropractors are trained to have an extensive knowledge of  both diagnostic procedures and all systems of the body which therefore enables them to address disorders of the spine and thoroughly assess a patient’s condition.  We are primary health care physicians, as we meet all the criteria needed to be considered such; medical doctors are also considered primary health care physicians.

This article is meant only as a positive reflection on chiropractors.  Medical doctors certainly do things that chiropractors cannot.  However, this works both ways, as medical doctors are not trained or licensed to do what chiropractors do.  Still both provide health care and, most importantly, both are doctors.

Myth: Busted.

Thanks for reading.  Feel free to share any comments.



  1. I have come across this from time-to-time. I think some people don’t know the semantics of what to call their MD other than ‘doctor’. And, some people assume we do what MD’s do. We don’t. We do what chiropractors do.

    There are many types of doctors: dentist, optometrist, naturopathic doctor, MD, DO, DC, etc.

    Great article!

    • Thank you for both reading and responding. I think you are right about semantics; it does play a pretty large role in this particular issue. Thanks again!

  2. One of our chiropractors is married to a DO, and he likes to note that he put in more work (hours) than she did. It is true, chiropractors work just as hard, as other doctors that earn a DO or MD title. The difference is that DCs constantly have to prove themselves and their title.

    Thanks for helping to educate the public! You have inspired us to blog about this very topic in the future.

    Yours in Health,
    Mecca Integrated Medical Center

    • Thank you so much for reading!

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