Alternative Medicine Professions Video: Starting a Career in Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine Professions Video: Starting a Career in Alternative Medicine Transcript

A growing trend recognizes that people benefit from more than medication, surgery and other traditional medical treatments to maintain positive health. Professionals in the field of alternative medicine, also sometimes referred to as complementary or integrative care, utilize forms of alternative therapy not traditionally associated with conventional Western medicine. Alternative medicine specialists may employ a wide range of health treatments, among which are massage, reflexology, acupuncture, acupressure and naturopathy. If you are motivated to help people care for their health in innovative ways, a career in alternative medicine may be right for you.


Alternative medicine practitioners administer health treatments not traditionally grouped with those provided by the medical establishment. These specialists employ a 'whole person' approach to physical health and mental wellness. Once seen as controversial and oppositional to traditional methods of care, alternative medicine's therapies are today largely viewed as being complementary to the practices of conventional medicine. In fact, growing numbers of health facilities are beginning to incorporate many of these therapies into treatments. Given the growing popularity of alternative therapies, such as massage, reflexology, acupuncture, acupressure and naturopathy, professionals in the field of alternative medicine are likely to be in high demand for the foreseeable future. Countless quality programs across the country are now preparing graduates for this rewarding work.

Job Skills and Duties

Alternative medicine specialists are skilled in administering nontraditional health remedies to patients. These practitioners offer relief from a broad range of conditions, from arthritis and back pain to more serious conditions like cancer and immune disorders. Alternative medicine practitioners must be knowledgeable about the body's systems and able to provide health treatments to different parts of the anatomy. In addition to providing treatments, these professionals also often advise patients on improving personal habits related to diet, sleep and exercise. And like all healthcare workers, those practicing alternative medicine must also be able to establish a positive rapport with patients.

Training Required

Alternative medicine practitioners may have a wide range of educational backgrounds depending upon their expertise. Knowledge of bodily systems is very important, and so students generally benefit from courses in anatomy, physiology, kinesiology and other studies of the body. Coursework often entails both intellectual study and hands-on training, with many schools requiring a certain number of hours of supervised patient care. Many institutions offer certificate or associate programs designed to help graduates secure licensure. Programs at four-year institutions are also becoming increasingly common. Some of the country's most prominent universities are introducing advanced studies and degrees in the study of alternative and complementary therapies.

Well Known Jobs Within this Field of Expertise

Alternative medicine entails a wide range of health treatments. Massage therapists help patients achieve greater health through manipulation of the body's tissues. Reflexologists administer treatments to the feet intended to promote healing and relieve stress. Acupuncturists insert needles into the body at specific points believed to reduce pain and protect against certain health conditions. Accupressurists promote health by applying pressure with the hand, elbow or various tools to the body's acupoints. Naturopaths help patients to better health through a variety of methods such as diet, exercise, supplement intake and homeopathy. These and other alternative therapies can be practiced in a variety of environments. For example, massage therapists may practice in facilities specifically designated for this treatment. They may also be employed in traditional healthcare settings, such as hospitals and nursing homes as well as in health clubs, spas, hotels and other settings.


A career in alternative medicine is generally well suited for those who have an interest in the health and care of the body. Opportunities for education and training within the field are plentiful in every region of the nation. As nontraditional therapies are gaining in popularity with patients and healthcare facilities, the job outlook for alternative medicine practitioners is very positive.






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