Integrative health is an exciting and expanding field of medicine that utilizes a holistic approach to patient care, empowerment, and well-being. And while many integrated healthcare practices rely on Eastern or traditional philosophies, we know from current research that integrative health is increasingly found in mainstream environments, including hospitals, medical schools, nursing schools, and other comprehensive healthcare systems.
An integrative health career can be a great way to serve others while also honoring your own commitment to human and even planetary wellness. Keep reading to learn more about careers in integrative health and whether this track is right for you.
What is Integrative Health?
Integrative health, sometimes called alternative or complementary health, is an approach to healthcare that blends conventional and traditional approaches to human wellness. Integrative health emphasizes the importance of taking a patient-focused view. This is different from the typical conventional medicine approach, which tends to focus on a specific disease process, organ system, symptom, or syndrome rather than seeing the patient as a whole person.
In the integrative health model, special attention paid to the mental, emotional, spiritual, social, physical, community, and functional aspects of a patient. By observing and assessing the patient in this broader context, in addition to implementing and conventional medicine techniques as necessary, integrative healthcare professionals are able to help their patients achieve holistic and long-lasting positive outcomes.
To truly “integrate” and optimize the healing experience for a patient, integrative health relies on the coordination and collaboration between a number of providers and services. Some of the best careers in integrative health and wellness available today include:
- Traditional Chinese Medicine
- Herbal medicine
- Yoga Therapy
- Corporate and workplace wellness
- Cannabis science
Like other leaders in the integrative health field, we at MUIH believe that integrative health is not meant to be utilized in a vacuum. Likewise, integrative services are not mutually exclusive to more conventional approaches to medicine. Both conventional and complementary medicine can work wonderfully together in order to enhance patient care and quality of life.
Who Should Work in Integrative Health?
Integrative health is a growing field, and the demand for integrative healthcare providers is expanding rapidly. And because there are so many ways to practice integrative health—and so many opportunities to serve patients—this field is open to anyone who has a genuine interest in health and wellness.
If you have a natural interest in holistic practices, love working with others, and enjoy helping people develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between their mind, body, and lifestyle, then a career in integrative health is an excellent option for you—either as a way to augment your current healthcare career or as a way to pivot into a brand new profession!
Things to Consider When Pursuing a Career in Integrative Health
The career outlook for integrative health practitioners is promising. But first, it’s important to make sure you feel confident that it’s the right choice for you.
Before investing in a career in integrative health, be sure to consider questions such as:
- What area of study do I want to practice in?
- Why do I want to pursue a career in integrative health?
- What career opportunities exist for me in my chosen area of study?
- What kind of population or populations would I love to serve?
- Where do I see myself practicing?
- How much money and time am I willing and able to invest in my training?
- Which program is the best fit option for me?
- Do I already have any of the prerequisites or prior experiences needed for acceptance into an accredited training program?
- What does work/life balance mean to me, and how can my career in integrative health honor that?
Choose an Area of Study
The first thing to consider is choosing an area of study. Integrative health is an all-encompassing term that includes acupuncture, herbal medicine, cannabis science, yoga therapy, and more. You truly have so many options! In many cases, integrative health practitioners are even able to incorporate two or more specialties into their professional practice. This holistic and comprehensive approach helps them serve their patients and clients even more effectively.
MUIH offers a diverse array of integrative health programs to choose from and help you hone your skills and narrow down your career focus.
Choose the Right Program
Once you’ve chosen an area of study to pursue, it is important to research different schools and programs and find your best fit. Here are a few questions to consider as you research and narrow down your program options:
- What sort of accreditations does the school offer?
- What prerequisites are required prior to acceptance?
- What are the anticipated program fees and schedules?
- Does the institution have any collaborative relationships with other healthcare systems, hospitals, or institutions?
- Does the institution provide any guidance or assistance when it comes to post-graduate employment opportunities?
Talking to existing and former students is a great way to get real-time insights into the quality of the institution, faculty, and programs. Most important of all, you should check the course catalog to see if it contains all of the classes that you are interested in!
Alternative, complementary, or integrative health is an expanding field of medicine that offers providers and patients a growing number of exciting opportunities. If you’re interested in exploring graduate studies toward a career as an integrative health practitioner, contact the Maryland University of Integrative Health today to learn more about our classes and programs.