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Despite some differences, chiropractic and medical education have a lot in common

Both chiropractic and medical education programs are demanding in the number of hours devoted to basic sciences and the number of student contact hours per week. In fact, considerable commonality exists between these two educational programs, even though distinct differences remain, concludes a study supported by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (HS07915). For instance, chiropractic education devotes more time to the basic sciences than does medical education.

The authors compared the curriculum content of North American chiropractic and medical colleges. They also used in-depth data obtained through site visits with three chiropractic and three medical schools. Results showed that the types of subjects taught varied between the two programs. Chiropractors spent more time on nutrition than did physicians, whereas physicians spent more time on public health. Medical students spent relatively little time studying the neuromusculoskeletal system and its health-related problems—subjects of great concern to chiropractors—and they received little or no education in alternative health care and no education in chiropractic care. Medical students received much more practical clinical education in both hospital and outpatient settings. Chiropractic clinical education took place in outpatient settings only.

A chiropractic program consists of 3.3 years of undergraduate education compared with 4 years for medical education and an additional 3 years of graduate education to meet the requirements for practice. Clinical clerkship for medical students spans many clinical conditions and is 3,467 hours compared with 1,405 for chiropractic clinical clerkship. Chiropractic training includes an additional 1,975 hours in chiropractic clinical sciences.

For more details, see "A comparative study of chiropractic and medical education," by Ian Coulter, Ph.D., Alan Adams, D.C., Peter Coggan, M.D., M.S.Ed., and others, in Alternative Therapies 4(5), pp. 64-75, 1998.

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