Here you will learn about integrative medicine and education programs that will teach you how to incorporate it in a medical practice. Read on two review a couples examples of integrative medicine programs and careers you can pursue with this training.
Integrative medicine is a philosophy of treatment that uses traditional medicine (drugs, surgery) in conjunction with 'natural' treatments, such as herbal healing, massage, acupuncture, energy work and dietary therapy. Practitioners of integrative medicine have a background in conventional medicine, most being licensed physicians or nurses, but have chosen to receive additional training in alternative therapies.
Universities and colleges offer programs for medical students, residents and active health professionals. These programs may involve online and on-site study and practice, which may include an internship, fellowship or clinical rotations. Some institutions additionally offer courses and conferences on integrative medicine to the public, although these will not lead to a career in the field.
In order to start a career in integrative medicine you may need to pursue certification in addition to the medical licensure required for your profession. These may vary depending on your focus and the state you live in. Most programs will prepare you for certification exams. More information is found below.
Programs At a Glance
Integrative Medicine Graduate Certificate
- This is an 18-credit-hour program.
- This program is offered online.
Integrative Medicine Fellowship
- Students in this postdoctoral program make a two-year commitment.
- This program includes both in-person and online training.
Coursework in an Integrative Medicine Program
The aspiring integrative medical practitioner, having already received training and licensure as a medical professional, may choose from a diverse group of programs or courses. Topics include nutrition and cardiovascular health, nutrition and cancer, botanicals in medicine, clinical integrative approaches to women's health, pediatric integrative medicine, integrative health coaching, yoga, tai chi, oi gong and music therapy. Many of these topics are taught in either online or in-person classes, then students to be then used in practical clinical experiences.
In fellowship programs, students also complete courses in integrative medicine and participate in patient care. They also have opportunities to engage in planning and execution of clinical trials, present lectures, prepare papers for publication and aid in grant preparation.
As previously stated, integrative medical practitioners are also trained and experienced in the art of traditional medicine. Additional experience in the integrative healing arts will make the integrative doctor or nurse a valued member of the staff at any hospital or clinic that prescribes alternative therapies alongside traditional ones. This is becoming increasingly common in certain areas of practice, such as cancer care, where alternative therapies have been practiced alongside traditional ones for years. The validity granted by the practitioner's medical license makes it likely that integrative therapy will be covered by most insurance providers.
Job Prospects and Salary
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't report employment projections for practitioners of integrative medicine; however, it does report information for nurses, physicians and surgeons in general. Between 2018 and 2028, there is expected to be an increase of 12% in registered nurse employment and 7% in physician and surgeon employment. As of May 2018, registered nurses were paid a median annual income of $71,730, according to the BLS. PayScale.com reported in February 2020 that general practice doctors earned a median wage of $143,242, while internal medicine doctors made a median wage of $196,022. Family doctors earned a median wage of $185,733.
Medical professionals wanting to integrate alternative forms of medicine in their traditional practice can do so through graduate certificates and post-doctoral fellowships in integrative medicine programs. Students get clinical experience in these programs and may also have the opportunity for research and teaching.