Becoming a Chiropractor

Thinking about studying chiropractic?

Chiropractic has an emphasis on manual treatments involving precise handling or moving of parts of the body. Chiropractic is a physically, intellectually and emotionally demanding profession. The safety of patients is paramount both in the practice and in the education environment.

Individuals who use chiropractic services include the young, older people, manual workers, office professionals, and sports people. Patients seek treatment for a wide variety of conditions.

There are more than 3,000 chiropractors registered with us and this number represents an almost equal split between men and women. Some chiropractors have already qualified in another health profession such as nursing or have taken up chiropractic as a second career. Almost all chiropractors in the UK work on a self-employed basis as there are only very few paid employment positions so this is also something you would need to take into account when thinking of embarking on chiropractic as a career.

In order to work as a chiropractor, you need to:

  • gain a place on an approved chiropractic degree programme
  • successfully complete the programme, and
  • register with us, the GCC.

You will then be able to call yourself a chiropractor and practise as one. Everyone on our register must meet the requirements of our Code. The standards in the Code are there to help make sure that every individual who sees a chiropractor in the UK can be sure that the care they receive and the way in which a chiropractor conducts themselves will be of a consistently high standard.

 

What do you need to study to become a chiropractor?

Chiropractic study is at degree level – undergraduate honours degree or above.

The GCC decides whether education providers are entitled to issue chiropractic degrees and decides which programmes meet its Education Standards. We have approved Masters in Chiropractic from three UK institutions to date. They are:

Chiropractic students typically study for four years to gain their chiropractic degree. During their degree course, students must meet set standards (learning outcomes) for the following areas of knowledge and skill:

  • The spectrum of chiropractic care, context and history.
  • Assessing and determining the health needs of patients.
  • Selecting and applying appropriate evidence based care to meet the needs and preferences of the patient.
  • Critically evaluating scientific research methods in the context of clinical practice.
  • Communicating effectively with the public, patients and other healthcare professionals through verbal and non-verbal forms
  • Understanding the nature of professional accountability.

Find out more


How can I find out which course is the best one?

All of the recognised degree programmes have met our Education Standards. We do not grade the programmes or rank-order them.

We have a legal responsibility to check the quality of all UK chiropractic education programmes that lead to registration with us as a chiropractor. We do this by evaluating institutions and their chiropractic degree programmes against our Education Standards using the processes set out in our Quality Assurance Handbook. We do this to make sure that new entrants to the profession are able to practise safely and patients are protected from harm.

We are not able to advise you on which education provider you should apply to. It is up to you to decide which education provider is most likely to meet your needs. 

 

I have a disability, can I study chiropractic?

We as the regulator, our education providers and the chiropractic profession as a whole are committed to the principles of equality and diversity. The profession can accommodate people with a range of backgrounds and capabilities as well as those with disabilities and health conditions.

Education providers will assess every applicant on an individual basis on their own merits against the entry criteria for the course. When considering an application, they will take into account the fact that the primary aim of a recognised chiropractic qualification is to educate students to become safe and effective chiropractors who are fully capable of working as independent primary healthcare practitioners in a variety of clinical settings. This means that they will assess:

  • whether you have the knowledge, skills and attributes for entry on to the course
  • the capacity and capability to enable you to meet the competence standards at the end of the programme, and
  • the potential to enter unsupervised independent practice.

By law education providers must take all reasonable steps to make adjustments to accommodate disabled students. This means they have to help someone meet the standards that are set for the programme. It does not mean that they have to vary the level of attainment required for entry to their course or for successful completion of it. There will be some occasions when an education provider decides that the provision of reasonable support, aids and adjustments will be insufficient to enable an applicant to demonstrate achievement of the competence standard for entry to the profession.

When an education institution considers an applicant’s suitability to study chiropractic, they have to be confident that the individual is likely to have the capacity and capability to meet:

  •  the learning outcomes at each stage of the education programme
  • all of the demands of chiropractic professional practice at the end of their programme of study.

We believe that chiropractic education providers are the best sources of information about:

  • whether an individual has the potential to achieve the learning outcomes of the programme
  • how they can deliver a learning programme to enable students to meet the outcomes required to graduate from their programmes.

If you want to find out more about higher education institution’s duties under the Equality Act 2010 then visit https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/higher-education-providers-guidance

What counts as a disability?

A person is a disabled person (someone who has the protected characteristic of disability under the Equality Act 2010) if they have a physical and/or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. There is no need for a person to have a medically diagnosed cause for their impairment – what matters is the effect of the impairment not the cause.

You can find out more about what counts as a disability here - https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/disability-discrimination#definition

If you need expert information, advice and support on discrimination and human rights issues and the applicable law, especially if you need more help than advice agencies and other local organisations can provide, contact the Equality Advisory and Support Service (EASS) on 0808 800 0082, [email protected] or through www.equalityadvisoryservice.com

 

Can I get additional support if I have a disability?

As well as the support which educational providers are able to offer by making reasonable adjustments, individuals who have:

  • a learning difficulty (e.g. dyslexia, dyspraxia or ADHD)
  • a mental health condition (e.g. anxiety or depression)
  • a physical disability (e.g. partially-sighted or use crutches)
  • a long term illness (e.g. cancer, chronic heart disease, HIV)

may also be eligible for a Disabled Students’ Allowance (DSA) – see https://www.gov.uk/disabled-students-allowances-dsas

DSA is designed to help cover some of the extra costs which people with a disability might have and is paid on top of other student finance. It doesn’t need to be repaid. The amount received depends on an individual’s needs not on their household income (i.e. it is not means tested).

 

How can I find out if this is the career for me?

If you are thinking of becoming a chiropractor, it’s a good idea to talk to as many people as possible – including family, friends and, if possible, chiropractors in your local area – about whether chiropractic might be a good career choice for you. This will help you gain a range of different views about the possible advantages and disadvantages of chiropractic as a career option.

As well as talking to people you know or in your local area, it is essential you talk to people in educational institutions offering chiropractic degrees as they have experience of working with a wide range of students from different backgrounds and abilities. Such forms of initial contact will not influence any later application. Some education providers offer open days for prospective students, which can provide an excellent opportunity to gain insight into what chiropractic education and training involves.