Integrative Medicine: Why You Should Consider a Career in this Field

Integrative Medicine: Why You Should Consider a Career in this Field

With its holistic approach to patient care, empowerment, and well-being, integrative medicine is becoming more and more popular among the public, creating many exciting career opportunities in the field. Similar to other careers in the healthcare and medical fields, a career in this field can also be a great way to help and serve others. Are you considering a career in the integrative medicine field? Continue reading to learn more about whether this is right for you.

What is Integrative Medicine?

Integrative medicine, or Integrative Health, as defined by the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM) and the Consortium of Academic Health Centers for Integrative Medicine, is the practice of medicine that reaffirms the importance of the relationship between practitioner and patient. It is also sometimes referred to as alternative health or complementary health. Integrative medicine is informed by evidence.

Integrative medicine emphasizes seeing the patient as a whole person, making it different from the typical conventional medicine approach, where there is a heavier focus on a specific disease process, organ system, symptom, or syndrome. Professionals in the field make use of all appropriate therapeutic approaches and disciplines to achieve patient’s optimal health and healing. They pay special attention to the patient’s mental, emotional, spiritual, social, physical, community, and functional aspects. By observing and assessing the patient in this broader context, in addition to implementing any conventional medicine techniques as necessary, they are able to help patients achieve holistic and long-lasting positive outcomes.

A person receiving acupuncture on their face

Here is a list of common practices:

  • Acupuncture
  • Herbal medicine
  • Yoga Therapy
  • Massage therapy
  • Meditation
  • Tai Chi
  • Moxibustion

And here are some places that you can consider practicing integrative medicine and wellness:

  • Private or group practice
  • Integrative Medicine institutions and clinics
  • Hospitals and cancer treatment centers
  • Naturopath/Osteopath offices
  • Assisted living homes for seniors
  • Corporate and workplace wellness
  • Teaching, writing, and research

Who Should Work in the Field?

With integrative medicine being a fast-growing field, there is also a high demand for integrative medicine professionals. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the Washington D.C-Virginia-Maryland area ranks highest for concentration of jobs for Acupuncturists and Treating Practitioners. The job market is expected to grow by 13.3% between 2016 to 2026, which is relatively faster compared to the average rate of other occupations.

If you have an interest in holistic practices, enjoy caring and helping people, and want to educate others about the relationship between mind, body, and lifestyle, then a career in integrative medicine is a great option for you, either as a supplement to your current healthcare profession or as a brand new career.

An elderly patient talking to her doctor about her concerns

Things to Consider When Pursuing a Career in Integrative Medicine

Before investing in a career in integrative medicine, take your time to consider some of the following questions to make sure it is the right choice for you:

  • Why do I want to pursue a career in integrative medicine?
  • What area of study do I want to practice in?
  • What career opportunities exist for me in my chosen area of study?
  • What is the community that I would love to provide services? Middle-age or elderly patients?
  • Where am I going to practice? Which state, or which country?
  • How much money and time am I willing, and able, to invest in my training?
  • Which accredited institution provides training in integrative medicine available in my area?
  • What are the prerequisites or prior experiences needed for acceptance into the accredited training program? Do I already have them?
  • What are the qualifications and certifications required to become a licensed integrative medicine practitioner?

Choose an Area of Study

The first thing to consider is choosing an area of study. Integrative medicine is a comprehensive field that includes acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, moxibustion, yoga therapy, and more. In many cases, integrative medicine professionals can incorporate two or more specialties into their practice to help patients achieve the desired outcomes.

At the Virginia University of Integrative Medicine (VUIM), there are different programs in integrative medicine available that you can choose from. All programs are designed to help you hone your skills, prepare you with hands-on experience, and narrow down your area of study.

Choose the Right Program

Once you’ve chosen an area of study to pursue, it is important to research different schools and programs to find the one that fits you best. Here are a few questions to consider as you conduct your research:

  • Is the school you are considering accredited?
  • What are the requirements to be accepted?
  • What are the estimated tuition and fees for the program?
  • Do they offer scholarships or Financial Aid options to help with the cost?
  • What is the anticipated schedule?
  • Does the institution have any partnerships with other healthcare systems, hospitals, or institutions?
  • Does the institution provide guidance or assistance for employment opportunities after graduation?

Conducting extensive research, reading the experience shared by current students and alumni, as well as looking into faculty members are all great ways to obtain insights into the institution’s quality. Additionally, you should also consider checking their academic catalog and talk to their Admissions staff for more in-depth information.

VUIM offers a free Admissions Information Session webinar every month to help answer any related questions from prospective students. During the webinar, the Admissions staff will talk about the programs available at VUIM, the requirements for each program, as well as exciting career opportunities in acupuncture post-graduation.

To find dates and register for the webinar, visit the Events page.

Conclusion

Integrative medicine 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 to become an integrative medicine professional, contact our Admissions staff today at admissions@vuim.edu to learn more about our classes and programs available.

About VUIM

Originally founded in 2004, VUIM is Virginia’s first and only accredited institution that offers graduate degrees in Acupuncture and East Asian Medicine. The university offers the following programs, Master of Science in Acupuncture (MSA), Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM), Doctor of Acupuncture (DAc), Doctor of Oriental Medicine (DOM), the Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM), and the Certificate in East Asian Nutrition (CEAN).

VUIM is committed to producing educated healthcare practitioners highly skilled in Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine, trained to provide the community with affordable healthcare services while fostering the growth and practice of Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine.