A common misconception about chiropractic physicians is that they only treat the back and musculoskeletal issues. At National University of Health Sciences, students in the chiropractic medicine program are not only trained to treat the whole body, they also have the chance to explore many unique patient populations and health care specialties.
NUHS offers a wide variety of classes, clubs, preceptorships and other opportunities to help give you a taste of several different specialties within the chiropractic field. If you’re interested in chiropractic medicine and thinking about a career focused on one specific health issue or patient population, here are a few specialties you might want to consider:
Veteran (VA) hospitals are among the many integrated health care centers that continue to add chiropractors onto their medical teams. According to Daniel Tominello, DC, a staff chiropractor at the John D. Dingell Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Detroit, chiropractic physicians are valuable because they help to lower health care costs while providing more efficient treatment of musculoskeletal conditions and pain.
Compared to what is usually seen in private practice, chiropractic physicians often handle more comorbidities and complex cases at VA hospitals. Various disciplines also work together on one team. The Detroit VA, for example, has an Integrated Clinic Services team, which is comprised of at least one chiropractic physician, pain psychologist, acupuncturist, yoga expert, pain specialist medical doctor and Masters-level nurse practitioners, who all work together to bring relief to chronic pain patients.
To help prepare students for this specialty, NUHS provides the opportunity to work at five different Veteran hospitals across the country as part of a preceptorship program.
Occupational health offers chiropractic physicians the chance to treat workers across multiple fields. Chiropractic physicians within this kind of specialty typically work with industries that have the highest rates of worker injuries such as agriculture, forestry, fishing, construction, manufacturing, and transportation. However, occupational health chiropractors can also work in corporate offices, providing ergonomic services.
Along with treating workers on-site, occupational health chiropractors are expected to help prevent injuries, too. They often provide full-time consultation on ergonomic office design, nutrition and lifestyle choices. Chiropractic physicians can also help with pre-placement physicals.
NUHS alum Bethany Dixon, DC, RD, LDN, CME, for example, works within the transportation industry helping treat and prevent injuries among truck drivers. Since truck drivers are generally unable to take pain killers for back pain, chiropractic medicine is an effective, more natural alternative. In addition to performing physicals and adjustments, Dr. Dixon also counsels her patients on diet and nutrition.
Because the trucking industry is so large, she’s never been worried about having too small of a patient base.
“Chiropractic is very popular with the drivers,” she said. “Having somewhere to go for them to be taken care of is very much appreciated by this population. They often feel forgotten, and they become very loyal to you as a provider once they know you care.”
Chiropractic medicine isn’t just suitable for adults, it can have a profound impact on children, too. Many NUHS graduates have had successful careers treating children whether it’s related to high school sports or activities of younger children. 2021 graduate Liron Saletsky, DC, immediately started her career in pediatrics after completing her program.
“People often ask why do I see kiddos so early? The kid doesn’t have back pain. But there’s always some sort of stressors in our lives, whether it’s trauma, toxins, or emotions, etc.,” Dr. Saletsky said.
Chiropractic physicians can treat a number of ailments related to children including constipation, acid reflux, sleep problems, ear infections and tongue ties. Dr. Saletsky even treats newborns. During these appointments, one of the techniques she uses is feeling the tone of the nervous system and seeing how the body reacts to stress. She’ll focus on the top of the neck and sacrum to stimulate the parasympathetic system, which helps activate the body’s rest and digest function.
“Activating the parasympathetics helps with a lot of common complaints that continue through childhood,” she said.
Today, you’ll find many chiropractic medicine clinics that specialize in prenatal and post-partum care. These clinics often receive referrals from OBGYNs and midwives with patients suffering from low-back pain and other musculoskeletal issues. This natural, non-pharmaceutical approach also helps ensure optimal health of the mother and prevents babies from becoming breech, which is one of the most common reasons for a c-section.
Chiropractors usually treat pregnant women using the Webster technique. According to a survey completed by International Chiropractic Pediatric Association members, the technique has an 82% success rate in relieving the musculoskeletal causes of intrauterine constraint.
For today’s graduates, the future of chiropractic among top sporting events is bright. In the past 20 years, chiropractors have become much more commonplace among the medical staff of college and professional athletic teams.
According to NUHS Florida faculty Carlo Guadagno, DC, CCSP ®, ICSC, FICC, who has participated on the medical staff of numerous Olympic qualifying events, including the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero, it was the athletes that made sure that chiropractic physicians were on staff and available to them.
Whether it’s professional athletes or high-school and younger level sports, chiropractors help athletes with a number of issues ranging from emergent situations to performance enhancement, and many musculoskeletal ailments. As a result, sports chiropractors require a wide range of skills.
Sports chiropractic isn’t about just treating the spine or providing an adjustment. Sometimes what’s needed is soft tissue work. Unlike working in a chiropractic clinic, the sports medical staff are also expected to be fluent in emergency medicine.
At NUHS, students can gain these valuable skills in the ambulatory trauma class. Emergency medicine is also taught in NUHS’s sports medicine class.
Increased awareness about women’s health issues has led to this specialty gaining in popularity in recent years. Historically, research into women’s health issues has been underfunded, according to a 2020 study. However, new research is revealing the different ways women experience health issues like pain, stress and even heart disease, a leading cause of death.
With more women having children in their 30s, women are also seeking more assistance with fertility. Fibromyalgia is another health issue that doctors have begun to recognize as an illness, which predominantly effects women.
Chiropractic medicine is among the disciplines that can treat these issues. Some of the other conditions chiropractors address among women include menstrual cycle/dysmenorrhea, pelvic floor dysfunction and urinary incontinence, perimenopause/menopause, mental health, stress, and chronic pain.
National University of Health Sciences provides the curriculum, training, and extracurricular opportunities to prepare students for a number of different career paths within the chiropractic profession. Whether it’s at the on-campus Whole Health Center, as part of their clinical training or a preceptorship, NUHS can help set you apart from the competition. Since NUHS offers multiple degree programs too, like acupuncture and naturopathic medicine, students can expand their skillset and benefit from additional career options.
For a complete look at a future career within the chiropractic profession, download A Career Guide to Becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic: