Career Profile: Complementary & Alternative Health Nurse

January 28, 2016

Article by Global Pre-Meds
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With an increasing number of people choosing to explore alternative therapies, the field of complementary and alternative medicine is getting more and more popular. Nursing in this area is an interesting route to consider; especially if you’re interested in integrating alternative healing and holistic living into your nursing care protocol to provide patients with the best care possible.

CAM nursing is considered holistic as it looks at the whole person and their lifestyle instead of just diagnosing and treatment visible symptoms. Complementary and alternative health nursing focuses on nutrition, prevention and alternative forms of healing, and essentially relies on the body’s natural ability to heal itself with a little help.

Job description

Medicine of this kind focuses on implementing numerous traditional therapies ranging from yoga, ayurveda and acupuncture, to spinal manipulation, Chinese medicine and herbs to heal the human body or assist the process of recovery. It’s tough to define the exact scope of this field because there are hundreds of therapies that fall into this category. However, if you want to work as a nurse in this field, it is necessary to believe in holistic healing and believe that a person can be cured or improved through natural processes.

Nurses in this specialisation help patients who require something more than what allopathic medicine can offer them. Treating these patients requires going into the complete history of the patient, from their medical history to their entire lifestyle. Prevention, nutrition and healing are all included in this kind of care.

Education & training requirements

The first step to becoming a Complementary and Alternative Health Nurse is getting your nursing certification. You can either complete a two-year associate’s degree or a four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing. After you become a Registered Nurse and get your licence, you can start practicing in a traditional nurse setting. Of course, you can also choose to continue your education and complete a graduate degree in nursing. Even though it may seem a waste just after you get your nursing qualification, an advanced degree may be very useful later in your career.

Certification options

A lot of universities now offer courses and certifications in complementary and alternative medicine. These courses are not mandatory if you’re looking to work in the field, but will give you a lot of extra knowledge. They’re good certifications to have as they will often give you an edge over other the competition during job interviews and times of promotion; showing your employer that you’re dedicated to the career, and have taken that little extra step to learn more about it. Patients also tend to have more faith in nurses more who are certified as it demonstrates expertise in this particular specialty.

With CAM becoming ever more popular, the demand for complementary and alternative health nurses is projected to grow dramatically over the next few years. An advanced degree in this field combined with a few years of experience will give you a lot of scope for growth in your career.


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Gap Medics provides year-round hospital work experience for people aged 16 and over. Our shadowing placements offer a unique insight into the work of doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists – helping students to focus their career aspirations before embarking upon medical training.