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A chiropractor is a person who practices chiropractic, specialising in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disorders of the neuromusculoskeletal system and the effects of these disorders on general health.
Currently, chiropractors practice in over 100 countries in all regions of the world, however chiropractors are most prevalent in North America, Australia and parts of Europe.
Regardless of the model of education utilized, prospective chiropractors without prior health care education or experience must spend no less than 4200 student/teacher contact hours (or the equivalent) in four years of full‐time education. This includes a minimum of 1000 hours of supervised clinical training. Upon meeting all clinical and didactic requirements of chiropractic school, a degree in chiropractic is granted. However, in order to legally practice, chiropractors, like all self regulated health care professionals, must be licensed. All Chiropractic Examining Boards require candidates to complete a 12 month clinical internship to obtain licensure. Licensure is granted following successful completion of all state/provincial and national board exams so long as the chiropractor maintains malpractice insurance. Nonetheless, there are still some variations in educational standards internationally, depending on admission and graduation requirements. Chiropractic is regulated in North America by state/provincial statute.
In some countries chiropractors earn a professional doctorate where training is entered after obtaining between 90 and 120 credit hours of university level work (see second entry degree) and in most cases after obtaining a bachelor's degree. The World Health Organization lists three potential educational paths involving full‐time chiropractic education around the globe. This includes: 1 – 4 years of pre-requisite training in basic sciences at university level followed by a 4 year full‐time doctorate program; DC. A 5 year integrated bachelor degree; BSc (Chiro). A 2 - 3 year Master's degree following the completion of a bachelor degree leads to the MSc (Chiro). In South Africa the Masters of Technology in Chiropractic (M.Tech Chiro) is granted following 6 years of university.
The realistic median annual wage of chiropractors in the United States was $66,160 in May 2012. According to Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Chiropractic Student Loan Default Rates for October 1999, May 2010, and January 2012 were 54%, 53.8%, and 52.8% respectively, which are much higher default rates than for other health professions, with over half the individuals having attended chiropractic colleges.