Everything you need to know about a career in chiropractic
BCA Vice President, Tim Button, writes about his passion for chiropractic and building his business.
Suppose you are looking for a career in healthcare and wellbeing with varied job prospects, great pay, an independent working environment, a flexible lifestyle and many satisfied patients. Then chiropractic may be for you!
My name is Tim Button, and I am the founder and owner of Cleve Chiropractic and Physiotherapy Clinic in Mangotsfield, Bristol. My motivations for training to be a chiropractor stemmed from the high-level skills I could use. Chiropractors can take and read a wide array of imaging, including X-rays and MRIs, and are trained to a Master’s level at the point of graduation. As the smallest regulated healthcare profession, there is a huge demand for what we do!
Chiropractic is so much more than painful backs and stiff necks. Chiropractors are primary healthcare professionals, specialising in bones, joints, muscles and soft tissue. We are often consulted on manipulation of the spine and also on the effects of musculoskeletal disorders on general health. We are known as a patient-centred profession.
I asked my colleague, Catherine Quinn, about her choice to be a chiropractor. She explained how, “Chiropractic was the greatest choice of my life. As a Sports Science graduate, I knew that I wanted to use the skills and knowledge I had built and apply them to a healthcare profession. After observing a wide variety of professions, I was so inspired by the way I saw chiropractors being hands-on, providing reassurance and instilling confidence in their patients. I have taken my passion for sport, combined it with my chiropractic training and have travelled the world treating professional athletes!”
What do chiropractors do?
Most of the time, chiropractors work one-to-one with patients in treatment sessions. When working in a sport setting, this can be far more varied. In a team setting, you may be working with multiple players in a team treatment environment, and with individual athletes you can find yourself spending all day or week with the same athlete, being involved in their recovery, nutrition and mental wellbeing.
Some of my patients have been seeing me for many years and are seeing me for supportive care, maintaining the best function in their muscles and joints to avoid pain and perform at their best in life! Most patients will first see me because they have done something to hurt themselves. This could be through a sporting activity, their work or just a build-up of the day-to-day pressures we all experience.
Responsibilities and skills
When I see a patient for the first time, I start by taking a detailed medical history. By listening properly to the patient’s history, I can best decide which physical examinations to perform (for example, if imaging, such as x-rays, ultrasound scans, or MRI is appropriate), and then form a diagnosis based on the history and examination.
Explaining this to the patient requires good communication, whilst planning a course of care in partnership with them can provide the reassurance that the patient needs to begin their recovery.
Using the information we have gathered, we will use our hands and other tools to treat a wide range of conditions. This job is physical, but our training involves learning to perform manual therapy to suit patients’ height, body type, strengths, and physical ability.
My colleague, Dele Bamisaye, said, “Being a chiropractor allows me to work as an independent clinician, making decisions using research and clinical experience. I love the challenge of the job as you never know who will walk through your door.”
Working as a chiropractor
A career as a chiropractor is exciting and offers a varied day-to-day experience; you could work with elite athletes, pregnant women or elderly patients. It is a great time to become a chiropractor; with around 3500 chiropractors already practising in the UK, this dynamic profession is growing yearly. The flexibility and the work-life balance offered by a chiropractic career allows the kind of lifestyle many other healthcare professions cannot offer.
As my colleague, Jack Withy, explains, “It’s a great job as you get to meet and help lots of different people, which makes it very rewarding. There is more to learn and different skills to master, which motivates me to keep improving and keeps me excited by what we do.”
One profession – many careers
Whilst most chiropractors enter clinical practice, there are also opportunities in research and academia. My associate, Michael Jordan, has taken on a role in academia. Mike said, “Over time, I realised that the best thing about chiropractic is the diversity of the profession, with specialities in paediatrics, pregnancy-related musculoskeletal (MSK) issues, chronic pain, and of course, sports! Now I’m back at university, teaching students chiropractic treatment techniques, while maintaining a patient-facing clinic, which gives even more flexibility to my working week.”
Starting salaries are about £30 000, although this can vary. After a few years of experience, this will rise as you get busier. A business-minded chiropractor with a large practice employing others can expect to earn up to £80 – 100 000 after several years.
Like other healthcare professions, chiropractic is regulated by an Act of Parliament. Chiropractors must register with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) and adhere to a strict code of conduct to maintain the quality and safety of patient care. Principles like honesty, integrity and professionalism are requirements in all health professions and are outlined in the BCA Patient Charter.
To be accepted onto the GCC register, you must have successfully completed an accredited Master’s Level degree. Current courses include: AECC University College (Bournemouth), the Welsh Institute of Chiropractic (Pontypridd), London South Bank University (Croydon), Teesside University (Tees Valley) and the McTimoney College of Chiropractic. There is a fee for individual chiropractors to pay for registration, full details can be found on the GCC website.