Dr. Michael Choe gets JobShadowed. He and his chiropractic services can be found at http://www.drmikechoe.com/. You can also follow him on his Twitter feed in the sidebar.
What do you do for a living?
I am a Chiropractor with certification in Acupuncture.
How would you describe what you do?
I treat people that have pain related to their spines such as neck and
back pain without the use of medication or surgery. I also treat
people with disc injuries, sports injuries and many other conditions
with acupuncture such as irritable bowel syndrome, migraine headaches,
infertility and the list goes on.
What does your work entail?
I perform an evaluation on a person’s spine and muscle to target the
area of joint misalignment and/or lack of movement. Once that is
determined, I administer a high velocity, low amplitude thrust to help
mobilize the joint. This is called a chiropractic adjustment or
What’s a typical work week like?
People that I normally see at work are under a treatment plan. I
evaluate them on how they tolerated their previous adjustment and see
if another adjustment is needed. I may use ultrasound or electrical
stimulation to help decrease pain or loosen up the muscles. Once a
person is able to hold their adjustment or keep their spine aligned,
we incorporate muscle strengthening or rehabiliation. On average, a
patients treatment time can be from 10-20 min.
How did you get started?
Initially while I was at Penn State University, I had plans to apply
for medical school. I took my MCATS and was on my way to applying to
several schools. My girlfriend at that time was involved in a car
accident and was getting regular chiropractic care for her injuries.
She took me to some of her treatments and after speaking with the
chiropractor, I was hooked. I looked into it further and I switched
gears and applied to chiropractic school.
What do you like about what you do?
I enjoy meeting new people and forming a relationship. I’ve been doing
this for 13 years and I’ve seen some patients when they were 2 years
old and now they are all grown up. I enjoy introducing chiropractic
care to patients and letting them know that you can feel and get
What do you dislike?
The part I don’t like about my job is the insurance game. Being in
network with insurance plans is vital for access to getting new
patients, but at the same time, your re-imbursement may be
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
70% of the income is insurance based, 15% are cash based and the rest
fall under Personal Injury or Workman’s compensation.
How much money do you make as a Chiropractor?
This varies greatly. On average, a solo practioner makes $110k a
year. If the practice has multiple specialists, that number goes up.
Personally, I know some of my friends and collegues that make $250k a
year in solo practice. I also know of some friends that have mutliple
specialists and make $800k a year. It all depends on how motivated
you are and if you are a good business person.
How much money do Chiropractors make starting out?
I believe starting out you can make as little as $35K-$40K as an
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to become a chiropractor?
Most chiropractic colleges now require a bachelors degree before
applying. Then its 4-5 years of chiropractic education.
What is most challenging about what you do?
The most challenging thing about what I do is running a business. I
thought that by getting a doctor degree that patients will flock to
you. Not the case. You have to have a good business sense, good
marketing plan and all the other things necessary to run a good
business. It took me several years to really understand the business
What is most rewarding?
It’s most rewarding to see patients getting better and opening their
eyes to natural healthcare. It’s definitely rewarding getting a family
or friend referral from a patient. It gives me a sense that I did my
job and did it well enough to warrant a referral.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Please do your research. Many choose to go to chiropractic school not
fully understanding the philosophy and business of chiropractic.
Understand the limitations of what a chiropractor can and cannot do,
and what options they have once they graduate. Some choose to become
an associate under an experienced doctor, become an independent
contractor, or open a new practice or buy an existing one.
How much time off do you get/take?
I used to work 6 days a week and took one week of vacation a year.
Now, I’m part time chiropractor and part time stay at home dad. I’m
an independent contractor so I make my own hours and take time off as
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
The most common misconception that people have is that chiropractic is
not safe and not effective. Research shows that chiropractic care is
not only safe, but it can be more effective at times for low back or
neck pain than other conventional treatments.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
My dream is to expand my business and offer more treatment options to
better serve my patients.
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
Chiropractic is a very rewarding career. I see families in my
practice but also professional athletes. I’m a big fan of mixed
martial arts and have treated many professional fighters from UFC,
Strikeforce and WEC. Some of them have been past champions or current