Doctors of chiropractic have a variety of professional opportunities in the healthcare field
By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Students pursuing chiropractic degrees have every reason to look forward to a satisfying, solid career. Chiropractor J. Todd Knudsen, vice president of institutional advancement and special projects at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, represents one of the two chiropractic schools in the state.
“Alumni of our doctor of chiropractic [DC] program have a wide variety of professional opportunities from which to choose,” Knudsen said. “For example, they might decide to be a principal in a solo practice, become an associate practitioner working for another chiropractor or seek employment in a multi-disciplinary or medical practice such as a VA medical center or a regional hospital.
“A DC graduate can also pursue residency training and specialize in additional areas like nutrition, sports medicine, diagnostic imaging, orthopedics, neurology, pediatrics, teaching or spine care.”
Over the past 10 years, chiropractic has developed and advanced over in many ways, including public perception. Knudsen, who is also a diplomate of the American Chiropractic Board of Radiology (DACBR) — a certified specialist in diagnostic imaging who can order and interpret advanced imaging such as a CT scans, MRIs and ultrasounds — said that a “strong body of scientific research” shows the value of chiropractic care as an effective alternative to taking medication and undergoing surgery for the issues it treats.
Many people wary of prescription pain medication, including opioids, want an alternative approach to their pain. For those whom chiropractic is appropriate, they can often resolve issues more quickly than through rest alone.
Chiropractic is also integrating with overall health care organizations such as the VA health system.
“Chiropractors have the very rewarding experience of making a difference in the lives of their patients by increasing the patients’ quality of life and bringing relief to suffering, often when relief has been unavailable through traditional medicine,” Knudsen said.
While medical doctors usually work on-call hours, chiropractors typically set their own hours if they operate their own practice.
Steven Sadlon, doctor of chiropractic at Chiropractic Health and Acupuncture in Penfield, said that he enjoys the flexibility and the comprehensive nature of chiropractic. He said that although reimbursements from insurance companies have stalled in the last 20 years, more insurers are now covering chiropractic care.
“We have different therapeutic options many providers don’t,” Sadlon said. “The opportunities are there, but anything you do, you have to make it happen.”
For some, forming or joining a practice with massage therapists and other types of practitioners enables them to minimize overhead to make up for low reimbursements. Others forgo working with insurance companies so they can charge more realistic rates and spend the time with patients that they need.
At Goshorn Chiropractic in Webster, chiropractor Steven Hill, said that chiropractors can enjoy a wide variety of ways to practice. “You can focus on nutrition, manual therapy and new technology with spinal decompression,” he said.
Spinal decompression, according to WebMD.com, is a type of motorized traction that may help relieve back pain by takeing pressure off the spinal disks.
Some chiropractors operate a retail location selling durable medical equipment like neck braces and supports.
Chiropractic “is getting better and better,” Hill said. “It’s going up. We’re on more insurance plans and are more accepted in the medical community. Now that insurance companies are beginning to recognize the cost-to-benefit ratio, that’s another boost in our favor.
“It’s expanding and getting bigger. We’re on the forefront.”
Median Salary for Chiropractors: $67,520
Tuition and fees to become a chiropractor at New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls is $122,820 for the standard 10-semester program. The alumni have a .8 percent rate of student loan default. Studentloandebt.com states that the rate is 11.35 overall for two- and four-year schools nationwide and 8.05 for New York.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ outlook for chiropractors is 12 percent job growth nationwide from 2016 to 2026, compared with 7 percent for all jobs.
The median pay nationwide was $67,520 in May 2016. New York’s annual mean wage for chiropractors is $90,570. In the Rochester area, it’s $67,880; in Western New York and it’s 63,380. No data was available for Syracuse / Central New York.