The practice of alternative medicine has been in existence for millennia. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Eastern cultures. It is a holistic approach to health and wellness and believes in balancing body, spirit and mind. Focus on disease prevention is as important as treatment of symptoms. Various modalities of treatment are employed, including massage, acupuncture, and herbal remedies.

As clinical studies are performed and more people become aware of natural alternatives to mainstream medicine, alternative medicine has become increasingly popular in the United States. Those who are considering a career as an Alternative Medicine practitioner have a large number of fields available to choose from. Depending on which discipline appeals to the individual will determine which school and what degree program will be needed.

Certificate in Alternative Medicine

Certificate programs in alternative medicine are designed for a variety of reasons. Many people attend as a beginning point in their studies or for continuing education purposes. Many are offered online, require a short time investment and provide a great deal of flexibility. Certificates are issued in several areas: Massage, Yoga, Herbal Medicine and Holistic Health. Obtaining certification allows the student to begin work in alternative medicine while continuing their academic path.

Associate’s Degree in Alternative Medicine

Pursuit of an Associate’s degree requires fulfillment of core curriculum requirements in English, Science, Social Science and Math. Some classes can be taken online, but those that require lab time will be at a campus. There is a two to three year commitment to this course of study. Further studies into your field of choice can then be completed. Those holding an associate’s degree can become licensed as physical therapy assistants or chiropractic assistants. Many use this as an entry level degree.

Bachelor’s Degree in Alternative Medicine

Bachelor’s degrees in alternative medicine are offered in a number of fields of study. Chinese medicine, physiology and general alternative medicine. Careful consideration of one’s own personal philosophies and beliefs should be examined to determine the most appropriate path to pursue. Many schools have a focus on holistic skills and the basic sciences. In-depth classes are generally provided in light of which field the student wishes to enter on graduation.

Master’s and Doctorate Level

The most common degree obtained when entering a career as an Alternative Medicine Practitioner is a Master of Science in Alternative Medicine. The time investment required is around three to four years after completion of a Bachelors. Some institutions offer combined Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. Obtaining this level of education prepares the student to enter a diverse listing of careers. Training is provided in interviewing, assessing and recommending treatment options to patients. Many enter private practice within a group or solo after completion.

Doctoral degrees require successful completion of a Master’s with an acceptable GPA. Most who enter this level have a desire to work in the fields of research or education.

In order to be successful as a practitioner of alternative medicine, careful self-analysis is required. An interest in the person as a whole, and the harmony of the whole being are essential qualities.

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