Career Definition for a Biological Health Professional
Biological health professionals treat illnesses with a combination of natural, biological and traditional medicine. Biological health care incorporates holistic and alternative treatments, such as Chinese medicine, homeopathy and the combined use of pharmacological medicine and 'biologicals', which are DNA-based drugs derived from biological sources, such as enzymes and antibodies.
The biological health profession may include medical doctors, researchers, naturopathic physicians, chiropractors and osteopaths. They often work in private practice or clinics specializing in alternative and complementary medicine. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the health care industry, including alternative medicine specialties, will create more jobs than any other industry over the next several years (www.bls.gov).
|Education||Bachelor's degree and a medical or naturopathic physician's degree|
|Job Skills||Knowledge of biology, medicine, and pharmacological drugs, diagnostic and problem-solving abilities, communication skills|
|Median Salary||$71,410* (in 2018 for chiropractors); $72,648** (in 2019 for naturopathic doctors/physicians)|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)||15.3%* (for the healthcare practitioners)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **PayScale
Education for Biological Health Professionals
Some biological medicine and health professionals are medical doctors, requiring a bachelor's degree, four years of medical school and three years of residency; however, others are trained as naturopathic physicians (N.D.s), requiring a bachelor's degree and completion of a 4-year graduate-level program accredited by the Council on Naturopathic Medical Education (CNME).
Not all states offer N.D. licensing, limiting where N.D.s may practice and the services they may provide. The American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (AANP) website provides a listing of accredited programs and state licensing requirements (www.naturopathic.org).
Skill Essentials for Biological Health Professionals
Biological health professionals must have expert knowledge in disciplines related to biological and traditional medicine, such as molecular and cell biology, genetics, biochemistry and physiology. They must also understand alternative treatments, such as homeopathy and holistic-based approaches and have current knowledge of biological and pharmacological drugs. Additionally, biological health professionals must have good diagnostic and problem-solving abilities, as well as excellent communication and personal interaction skills.
The BLS predicts a 15.3% job growth for healthcare practitioners overall for the 2016-2026 period. Job prospects should continue to grow in biological medicine and health professions as an alternative and complementary medicine becomes more popular.
The National Institute of Health (NIH) reports that 38% of American adults used some form of complementary or alternative medicine in 2007 (www.nih.gov). Salaries vary by profession, often increasing with years in practice. According to the BLS, the May 2018 median annual salary for a chiropractor was $71,410. PayScale listed the projected median salary for a naturopathic doctor/physician as $72,648 in April 2019.