Pitt to Offer Rare Doctor of Chiropractic Program

Updated on March 4, 2024

From left: Tony Delitto, Mike Schneider, Anantha Shekhar

Dean Anthony Delitto, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; Doctor of Chiropractic Acting Director Michael Schneider; and Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine Anantha Shekhar

The University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) will begin offering a Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) program, the first at a research-intensive public university in the United States and the only one in Pennsylvania, Anthony Delitto, dean of SHRS, announced Monday.

The program will focus on evidence-based training for spine and musculoskeletal conditions and prepare students to work within interprofessional teams.

“With the addition of a chiropractic program, students and faculty from various health disciplines can come together to explore new research avenues, share knowledge and develop integrated approaches to patient care,” Delitto said.

“Major drivers of this program include an accumulation of scientific evidence showing that chiropractic care is a safe and effective approach to the treatment of pain and the important role it can play in mitigating opioid use for back and neck pain through nonopioid interventions,” said Michael Schneider, a professor in SHRS and the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at Pitt, who will be the program’s acting director. “According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 619 million people live with low back pain. It is the leading cause of disability worldwide,” Schneider said. 

“Opening a Doctor of Chiropractic education program in a research-intensive university is a bold and innovative step toward advancing health care education, fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and improving patient outcomes,” Delitto said.

Chiropractic care has been covered by most health care plans for years and is widely utilized by consumers. With a bill under consideration in the Senate proposing the expansion of Medicare coverage of chiropractic services, the field is increasingly seen as an integrative part of mainstream health care, making the need for more research-based training especially timely.

“Our students will follow all public health initiatives and recommendations and will receive clinical training side-by-side in an integrated setting with physicians, physical therapists and other health care providers,” Schneider said. 

“When we say, ‘It’s Possible at Pitt,’ this innovative program serves as a collaborative benchmark,” said Chancellor Joan Gabel. “The introduction of this program exemplifies how the six schools of the health sciences at the University of Pittsburgh—Dental, Medicine, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Nursing, Pharmacy and Public Health—are leading the way in training the next generation of clinical care.”

“Leveraging the university’s reputation for academic excellence and collaboration across disciplines, the chiropractic program can offer rigorous academic training, clinical experiences and research opportunities, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared to excel in their careers,” said Anantha Shekhar, senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and the John and Gertrude Petersen Dean of the School of Medicine. 

This will be the only chiropractic program in the United States led by a faculty member with National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding. Schneider practiced as a Doctor of Chiropractic for more than 25 years, then received his PhD in rehabilitation science from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 and moved into academic research. He has been a principal or co-investigator on 16 research studies funded by NIH and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute and is currently a co-investigator on four NIH-funded clinical research studies totaling about $30 million. 

About the program

Applications for prospective students will be accepted in fall 2024 with the first cohort of 40 students starting in fall 2025. Over the following two years, the program will grow to accept 60 students. This will be an eight-term program, shorter than most DC programs. The curriculum will emphasize research evidence in both the classroom and clinical training. Students will work with real patients beginning with observational rounds in the first year and culminating in the last semester with full-time chiropractic clinical training within an integrated health care system and private chiropractic clinics.

The program has established a clinical affiliation with VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, whose growing chiropractic care program includes on-site services at the University Drive campus and multiple community-based outpatient clinics.

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