If you love taking care of your body by eating well, exercising and focusing on your mental well-being, maybe you should consider a career in holistic medicine and help others feel better through this natural, spiritual approach to healthcare.
Holism is the belief that the human mind must be studied as a unit rather than as a sum of its individual parts.
The holistic approach to healthcare stresses the patient’s overall health and wellness. Holistic medicine practitioners recognize that many factors affect a person’s overall health, including exercise, diet, rest, environment and heredity. These beliefs mean that holistic practitioners provide drugless, non-surgical, natural treatments and rely on the body’s inherent recuperative abilities.
They also recommend changes in lifestyle – in eating, exercise and sleeping habits, for example – to their patients. This doesn’t mean that holistic practitioners are opposed to traditional medicine – in fact, they often consult with and refer patients to other health practitioners.
Chiropractors, massage therapists and acupuncturists are some of the most common holistic medicine professions. Other holistic medicine career options include:
- Chinese medicine
- Osteopathic manipulation
- Naturopathic medicine
- Oi Gong
Each of these professions has the advantage of choosing to treat patients in a group practice or running a practice alone. Those who choose to start their own practice also take on administrative responsibilities like recruiting patients and keeping records, while those in larger practices can delegate administrative tasks to office managers or assistants.
Most holistic practitioners work out of clean, comfortable offices. Their average workweek is about 40 hours, although longer hours are not uncommon. Solo practitioners may set their own hours and often work evenings and weekends to accommodate patients.
Salary Range and Growth Expectations
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for people with careers in holistic medicine should be excellent through the year 2014. Employment is expected to increase faster than average as patients' demand for alternative healthcare continues to grow.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) also states that it is difficult to gauge a medial salary for holistic practitioners, since earnings depend greatly on position, experience, size of practice and geographical location. However, median annual earnings of salaried chiropractors were $79,760 in 2012, up from $69,910 in May 2004, and median hourly earnings of massage therapists, including gratuities, were $17.29 per hour in 2012, up from $15.36 in May 2004.
Holistic Medicine Schools and Training
Like all other healthcare professionals, holistic medicine practitioners must receive standardized training, become licensed in their fields and comply with industry regulations for diagnosis and treatment.
While it is very easy to find training in some of the more common holistic fields like massage therapy and chiropractics, some of the less common branches of holistic medicine have fewer training schools in specific parts of the country.
No matter what type of holistic medicine training you choose to receive, you will probably learn standard practices like taking patient medical history; conducting physical, neurological and orthopedic examinations; and ordering laboratory tests. Holistic medicine programs often require a combination of classroom, laboratory and clinical training and involve sitting for a state examination upon graduation.