What does it take to become a Gold Coast Chiropractor? A lot!
March 15th, 2015
Posted in: The Mind & Body Team
Being a chiropractic student requires lot of study, a lot of practice, a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication! Hi everyone. My name is Kate and I have recently finished my Graduate Diploma of Chiropractic Science at Sydney’s Macquarie University. Now I am working on my Masters which will finally qualify me to practice as a Chiropractor next year.
Unless you’ve done it yourself, you have no idea how much is involved in qualifying as a chiropractor in Australia today. Typically, it takes five years of intensive study and hands-on practice. It’s a comprehensive education in all aspects of the body and human health.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there about chiropractic medicine and a great deal of misinformation. The purpose of this blog is to give you an insider view of exactly what it takes to acquire and eventually master these amazing skills.
Everything we do is based around research. There’s so much to learn about things like bio-mechanics and anatomy before we get to the stage where we are making adjustments. We have to know all about the medical, pharmacological, anatomical and bio-mechanical aspects of human health. We do a lot of differential diagnosis. This means we have to know how to identify conditions in much the same way as a doctor does. This involves a lot of clinical diagnosis so we learn about all kinds of diseases affecting different parts of the body including things like skin, eyes, things that people don’t associate with chiropractic.
If we see a lesion, for example, we need to know whether it’s related to something functional or something a lot worse. So a lot of the course work is about the patho-physiology of disease. We also learn about neuro-anatomy and neuro-physiology. We don’t work with the brain but with things coming from the brain such as nerve endings and the spinal cord. So it’s really important that we know our “neuro”…
We also have to know a lot about physics specifically: X-rays – how to take them, how to use them, how to address the issues that show up. We learn all about MRI, CT and so on. One of the key skills of a good chiropractor is knowing how to read X-rays and that’s without having the report from the radiologist. It sometimes happens that the radiologist misses things. So it’s really important for the chiropractor to be the expert.
These days a chiropractor is often the primary care specialist for patients. What we’re finding is that more and more patients will go to their chiropractor before their doctor. So we need to be knowledgeable about the complete spectrum of health issues and vigilant for when we refer out to other health professionals. We have to know what’s within our scope and what’s outside of it.
So we study different aspects of human health. We’re given a variety of case studies based on the things we’ve been learning from the lectures. We apply this knowledge to the case study and identify the condition. We also do hands-on skills. This is a combination of studying the theory behind the skill as well as learning by doing manual therapy work. This is all backed up by hours of research. It’s a lot! There’s so much more to becoming a qualified chiropractor than people realize.
My next exams are coming up and they present a challenge. For the practical exam, we have 5 workstations and we’re given 4 minutes at each station. Each one involves a different area of the body. We don’t know in advance what we have to do. We pick up a card and do whatever it says on the card. We have to identify the problem and perform the appropriate treatment.
A lot of people think that chiropractors are only concerned with the spine and associated problems such as back pain or headaches. But we do everything from top to toe. So it’s a lot of hard work and a lot of practice. The hours we have in class are never going to be enough. So I’ve bought my own table so that I can practice at home. I also go to extra-curricular supervised practice sessions for more hands-on experience. Because these skills are not easy to acquire. You have to picture the joint beneath a lot of skin and muscle and that’s the hardest part. You have to see what the problem is and know what to do about it. It’s a bit like a ballerina learning to play football!
Mind you, having been a ballerina for many years has certainly helped with the kinetic aspects of chiropractic. I’ve always been a student of the human body and movement and how it all works. Now I’m acquiring the knowledge and skills that will really make a difference to patients’ lives by restoring their mobility and wellbeing. That’s what keeps me going through what is a pretty arduous course. I’ve already done a degree course in exercise science and a master’s degree in medical research. And I have to say: the chiropractic course is harder!
Luckily for me, I’ve got a head start over the other students having worked with a leading Gold Coast Chiropractor. Not only was I able to witness the amazing results Dr Fell was able to achieve, I received tutoring from him. And with 25 years experience, he certainly has a lot of knowledge to impart.
The Mind & Body Chiropractic approach really is all about helping people. I think from what I now know and what I can potentially know I can make a real difference. So it’s for the benefit of my future patients that I’m doing what I’m doing. I want to establish myself in the profession. Maybe shine a different light on it.
I want to be a good chiropractor. The only way you’re going to achieve that is by making the extra effort and applying yourself outside of normal hours. Tackle those things that you’re not good at and make sure that you are good at them.
The biggest surprise for me about becoming a full-time student of chiropractic science has been the extent of knowledge we need to acquire. I knew Dr Andrew Fell was smart but I had no idea what he had to go through to know what he knows! A chiropractor has to know about everything: skin disorders, eye disorders, every type of condition that can afflict a human being. That’s why it requires a huge amount of dedication.
Ultimately, I want to promote a healthier way of life. I want people to be happy and healthy. Being a chiropractor is a way for me to put my skills out there. I’m a kinaesthetic person. I want to be hands-on. I want to be able to show people how things work and I want see results. People can walk into my practice and walk out feeling better which is what I saw when I was working at Mind & Body Chiropractic. I’d see people walk in with pain, with lack of mobility, with illness, with stress and walk out the door in a much better state. That’s why I want to be a chiropractor and that’s what is keeping me going through this course!
In good health.