Tips For Getting Into And Surviving Chiropractic School


Each step on your way to becoming a chiropractor has its challenges.

I asked three recently-graduated chiropractors to share their advice for navigating and surviving the complex world of applications, school and starting your career as a chiroractor.

The chiropractors

Dr. Joy Arciaga graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Science in Science Psychology and graduated from Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) in 2011.

Dr. Joe Pratile obtained an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology at Western University and also completed his studies at CMCC in 2011.

Both Joe and Joy have each been practising for one-and-a-half years and currently work at Vita Integrative Health Clinic in Toronto.

Dr. Stephanie Anisko earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology degree with high honour from Michigan State University, where she competed on an athletic scholarship for springboard diving. She has been practising for five years since graduating from CMCC in 2007, and now works at AIM Health Group in Mississauga. She is also the team chiropractor for the Canadian National Springboard and Platform Diving team.

Applications and preparation

Writing applications and waiting for answers from schools is always a stressful part of pursuing a career. What is your advice to students writing applications and hoping to get into chiropractic?

Joy: When you’re writing your applications, just be honest. If chiropractic is right for you, then you really have no reason to be anything other than honest. It’s easy to say the things that the board wants to hear, but at the same time, it has to be congruent with what you really believe in.

Dr. Joy Arciaga
Dr. Joy Arciaga

I completely agree on the waiting part. It is probably the most nerve-wracking part of the application process and it feels like you’re waiting forever.

There is no concrete advice I can offer here except be positive. You’ve done all the work. All the T’s are crossed and the I’s have been dotted. The interview is done. It’s out of your hands.

Joe: Does it allow you to always be learning? Second, does it allow you to always be dreaming? Third, does it always allow you to always be taking risks to live up to your full potential? Fourth, does it allow you to find a cause higher than yourself and devote yourself to it?

These [questions] will help you simply and help you build clarity in a complex situation. Fear has no place in a focused mind.

Any advice on preparing yourself for pursuing a career in chiropractic?

Joe: Take these three ideas into consideration. First, do you like school? Buckle up, it’s four more years. Second, read some chiropractic literature, magazines and books on the topic to see if the natural healing philosophy and paradigm is right for you. Third, be prepared to study the business side of chiropractic as well, like marketing, advertising and so on.

Dr. Joe Pratile
Dr. Joe Pratile

You will have options coming out, but ultimately if you want to be your own boss, run your own clinic or at least be a part of one, you will have to know how to streamline office procedures and build a clinic atmosphere.

Customer and patient satisfaction and loyalty will always come from the tone you set and the care you take in your office protocols. In today’s world of efficiency, people demand it these days and you will want to hit the ground running if possible.

My advice, learn from a current chiropractor or health practitioner who, as close as possible, embodies how you would like to be in practice. Success leaves clues, now all you have to do is ask great questions that build clarity and take action steps! If you want anything in this world bad enough, you’ll make it work.

On being a chiropractic student

Not too long ago you were chiropractic students yourselves. Do you have any tips for people who are in chiropractic school right now?

Stephanie: School can be a very overwhelming experience with the volume of homework, studying, exams and projects.

Dr. Stephanie Anisko
Dr. Stephanie Anisko

Sometimes it is very easy to lose sight of the big picture – that you will soon be in an amazing profession with skills that will help people improve their quality of life and live without pain!

Find a chiropractor who can help mentor you during the process and go and visit their office to shadow them.  That will help get you past some of the hurdles in school, and also prepare you for when the exams are over and it will be time to start working in the field.

It is also helpful to take courses outside of school to add chiropractic techniques and skills to broaden your perspective in order to maximally help your future patients. This can include practice management and business courses as well.

Joy: There is a light at the end of the tunnel even if it doesn’t seem like it. I’m not going to sugar coat it: the first three years are tough, but put your nose to the grindstone and before you know it you’ll be in clinic. That’s where it all begins to come together. It’s a long road, but at the end it’s worth it.

Learn as much as you can, obviously. What you learn in school is extremely important, but at the same time realize that your real education begins after you graduate. School provides you with an exceptional knowledge base, but nothing prepares you to be a chiropractor except actually being a chiropractor.

More articles in this series:

Healthcare Week on TalentEgg, presented by Northern Health and featuring Rexall and Alberta Health Services

Photo credit: Michael Dorausch

About the author

Tuen Mun Ong is a writer with TalentEgg. She received her H.B.Sc. in human biology from the University of Toronto and has a strong interest in health care, community, and culture. She’s not on Twitter, but you can easily find her on LinkedIn or in the real world. If you have a story you'd like to share, feel free to send her a message on LinkedIn.