What Careers are Available in Alternative Medicine?

February 8, 2014

The field of medical care is vast and varied.  Conventional Western medicine is often considered the “norm” in patient care, but there are many alternative therapies available for patients today.  Alternative medicine typically involves preventative treatments meant to benefit a patient holistically. If a patient suffers from specific symptoms or illnesses, alternative medicine addresses the whole body in treatment, triggering the body to use its natural defense mechanisms to heal itself. If becoming a medical professional interests you, but you’re not sure if a traditional, conventional medical school is the best fit for you, then you may want to consider these career choices in alternative medicine:

Acupuncture:  This traditional Chinese healing practice involves placing tiny needles on a patient’s body in carefully selected locations.  These needles activate the body’s natural defenses and sends healing to the area of distress.  You’ll see patients with a multitude of ailments, but physical pain is the primary symptom that is alleviated by acupuncture needles. To become an acupuncturist, you’ll need to attend an accredited school recommended by the Accreditation Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Training periods vary, and if you plan a thorough course of study that includes Eastern medicine, you’ll learn about the herbal treatments that can accompany your acupuncture practice.

Doctors outpatient consulting room in Jodhpur, IndiaMassage Therapy: This area is one of the more well known in alternative medicine.  This hands-on healing therapy is accepted across many demographics as an effective treatment for pain, stress, illness, and pregnancy-related complications.  Its mainstream acceptance by insurance companies signals that massage therapy is an effective healing practice. As with a career as an acupuncturist, you’ll need to attend an accredited school for your training to become a certified massage therapist.

Chiropractic Medicine: Much like massage therapy, chiropractic medicine applies a hands-on treatment to patients’ symptoms and illnesses.  Because it is a non-surgical treatment option for patients dealing with physical pain and discomfort, it falls into the category of alternative medicine.  However, as a chiropractor, you’ll refer patients for conventional diagnostic tests to determine the precise nature of their complaint. Therefore, chiropractic medicine combines the best of conventional and alternative medicines to treat patients.  The training to become a chiropractor is extensive, but you’ll be rewarded with a career that treats patients holistically and compassionately.

Herbalism: If the hands-on approach is not for you, and you consider yourself a “kitchen wizard” of sorts, then you might consider a career in herbalism.  This is also known as naturopathic medicine, using the natural bounty of the Earth to heal ailments and pains.  Your training time depends on whether you prefer to be an herbalist or naturopathic physician.  The latter requires much more extensive training, but you’ll be using the healing powers of plants to cure your patients.

Often, alternative medicine receives less respect than conventional Western medicine because it lacks proven, scientific research.  However, many of the treatments and therapies provided by alternative medicine providers are based on time-tested, ancient practices by other cultures. When you think about the last shoulder massage you had, you can thank the practitioners of alternative medicine for those healing feelings. — Post by Madelaine Kingsbury.