Alternative Medicine Programs and Careers Q&A

What careers can I pursue with an alternative medicine degree?

Many alternative medicine practitioners, like naturopathic doctors, are self-employed, but you can also pursue a career in hospitals, clinics and spas depending on your exact field. Corporate offices, insurance companies and education institutions are a few other options. It’s important to decide which area of alternative medicine interests you as this will play a role in where you can find a job. Learn about your career options.

What degree programs will I take?

There are a range of degree programs to choose from depending on your alternative medicine interest. You can find associates degrees in areas of holistic nutrition and bachelors and masters degrees in alternative or integrative medicine. Other professions, such as Naturopathic Doctors (NDs), require a doctoral degree to practice. Always check with your state to find out what degree level is required to practice. Read about degree programs and curriculum.

What can I expect after I submit a request for information to a school?

First, you’ll need to make sure you fill out the form correctly. For example, if your completed education level is high school graduate, you would need to complete a bachelor’s program before applying to a master’s degree program. So if you enter “high school graduate” and request master’s degree information, your request may fail. Be sure to request information for the correct level of education you plan to pursue.

Once you’ve selected the schools you’re interested in and submitted your information, you’ll receive a thank you from the schools you chose. You’ll be contacted by these schools either by email or telephone. The advisors who call you will ask you about the programs you’re interested in, when you would like to start school, and talk about financial aid options, among other things. Feel free to ask questions!

Is financial aid available for alternative medicine school?

Financial aid is available from a variety of sources. Government financial aid is the most common, but before you can be considered for aid, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Other types of financial aid include scholarships, grants, private loans and PLUS loans.

What types of courses will I take?

An undergraduate program includes classes in the history of medicine, herbology and botany, feng shui, naturopathy and body awareness. Graduate level coursework typically covers integrative medicine research, health promotion, vedic medicine and acupuncture and oriental medicine.

Is it better to work for myself or an employer?

Alternative medicine practitioners are often hired by clinics, hospitals and wellness centers. The upside to working for these types of facilities is medical benefits and a regular schedule. However, running your own practice also has advantages like the ability to set your own hours and earning more once you’ve established your business. The challenges of self employment include marketing yourself and staying ahead of the competition.

If I work for myself, what else will I need to learn?

If you decide to work for yourself, you should take classes in business administration and accounting in order to keep books, manage payroll and keep up on health insurance policy. If you plan on hiring employees you’ll want to take some courses in management or human resources.

Does school program accreditation matter for alternative medicine careers?

Alternative medicine program accreditation is important because it gives your degree credibility, allows you to take certification exams and makes you eligible for some financial aid. The Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME) accredits naturopathic programs and the Accreditation Commission for Homeopathic Education in North America accredits homeopathy schools.

What type of licensing (if any) will I need?

Licensing requirements vary for alternative medicine careers. Each state has their own criteria, with some not requiring a license at all. You should check with your state’s medical licensing board for information about licensing and certification.

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