Holistic medicine is becoming more widely embraced throughout the U.S.
In the past, many people assumed you only needed a secondary education in health care if you were planning on becoming a health care provider. If you were choosing to become a nurse, you could easily attend a two- or four-year program, take a few tests and happily enter your field of choice. These days, that's hardly the case. Health care is becoming increasingly competitive, and people are required to add more and more skills just to make the cut. While this will no doubt lead to an overall better health care system, it's also causing a greater influx of students seeking higher education.
"In 2012, 32% of adults were using complementary or holistic health approaches."
A different view
Even in fields of non-traditional medicine or holistic medicine, people are starting to feel the need to complete a master's program in order to call themselves a professional, given the growing demand of the trade. In 2012, 32 percent of adults were using complementary or holistic health approaches.
So what are some of the newer fields that require a master's or secondary degree? Some might surprise you. They include massage therapy, nutritional counseling, acupuncture and botanical medicine. All of these medical fields are now being offered in integrative health clinics, medical facilities and hospitals, making jobs in these fields all the more competitive. Instead of getting a bachelor's degree and learning about these practices online, people are seeking out master's degrees.
Some institutions have picked up on this, and are offering master's degrees in these specialties. The National University of Health Sciences based in Chicago offers both professional and master's degrees, including doctor of naturopathic medicine, doctor of chiropractic, and master of science degrees in both Eastern medicine and acupuncture.
People who choose to pursue these fields should know that almost every state mandates that students pursue higher education.
The varying requirements
If you were interested in becoming a licensed chiropractor, you would first need to complete a bachelor's degree in a science-based field, such as biology, chemistry or physics. Because this career is so customer-oriented, students should also take classes in communications and sociology. Upon graduation, you would need to attend a chiropractic college and earn a doctor of chiropractic degree. Unfortunately, there aren't many institutions that offer this program – only a handful actually offer four-year programs needed for chiropractors to learn the necessary skills. If students can't find a school that offers it, they need to take additional courses in chiropractic philosophy and diagnosis, chemistry and human anatomy. Students also need to intern at a local chiropractic clinic to get the hands-on experience that is required.
If you are considering going into nutritional counseling, it won't be an easy road either as this field also requires considerable education and training. Fortunately, graduate programs in nutrition are more widespread than some of the alternative health care fields. People who choose to go into nutritional counseling can seek out a master's degree in nutritional health, or they can get a master's of public health. Nutrition students need to spend several clinical hours working with clients before they can obtain their graduate degree.
If you choose to go into massage therapy, you can simply get an associate's degree. However, several massage therapists are choosing a higher-level path and seeking out naturopathic medicine, which is essentially an alternative primary care role that involves massage along with other techniques. After earning an associate degree in massage therapy, students may want to further their studies and earn a doctor of naturopathic medicine degree, allowing them to run a licensed practice. Upon graduation, most will become natural care primary physicians. Like nutrition, more colleges offer these types of programs.
So why are these roles demanding more education?
In the past, traditional medicine ruled all, and alternative medicine wasn't really taken seriously. These days, many people take a much more holistic view of the world, believing that certain therapies can improve the quality of their life and potentially alleviate conditions. Because of this popularity, there is more demand for these professions and thus, more skills needed to treat patients.
By Monique Smith