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Alternative Medicine Careers

Non-traditional Health Careers

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Alternative medicine is gaining popularity in the United States. Alternative disciplines include those that are widely accepted in other areas of the world, and some that were founded in America but are newer and still growing.

If you are seeking a health career that utilizes other forms of therapy besides drugs, surgery, and hospital stays, a career in alternative medicine may be for you. Alternative medicine usually entails more natural approaches to treating illness, which may include special diets, herbs, natural supplements, other types of physical therapies such as acupuncture or reiki, and much more.

Naturopathic Medicine

Mature woman receiving crystal healing treatment
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The practice of naturopathic medicine actually combines several disciplines from both alternative medicine and traditional medicine. There are four schools in the United States that offer doctorates in Naturopathy -(N.D. degree).

Acupuncturist

An acupuncturist uses tiny needles placed at specific points on the body to relieve a variety of pain and ailments in the patient. The practice of acupuncture originated in China and is one of the oldest forms of medicine.

Acupuncture is used to treat pain, infertility, heart problems, migraines, digestive issues, and more.

To become an acupuncturist, one can obtain a degree in acupuncture from an accredited program. Additionally, a degree in Oriental medicine is also an option, but takes longer to complete as it also teaches herbal medicine.

To find the best accredited program for you, a great resource is the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Massage Therapist

Massage therapy is another form of alternative treatment that is gaining popularity and acceptance by more traditional healthcare providers and insurers. Massage therapy is used to treat general pain, stress, sports injuries, pregnancy related discomfort, and more.

Massage therapists are seeing an increased demand for their services as the practice of massage therapy grows in popularity. Massage therapy requires completion of an accredited massage therapy program.

Homeopathic Practitioner

According to Cathy Wong, About.com Guide to Alternative Medicine, homeopathy is based on the philosophy of "like cures like". She states "Homeopathic remedies, which are typically small vials of tiny white pellets, are usually made from plant, animal or mineral extracts. The original extract is diluted many times using a method called potentization until there are few molecules of the original substance in the remedy."

Homeopathy was originated over 200 years ago by a physician in Germany and is practiced worldwide today, according to NaturalHealers.com.

The practice of homeopathy is also included as part of the training for naturopathic physicians.

Music Therapist

Music therapy is another alternative treatment that is rapidly gaining acceptance in the traditional healthcare world. The many benefits of music therapy" are becoming increasingly recognized by more healthcare providers. Therefore, music therapy will continue to grow as providers prescribe music therapy for their patients and include it as part of a treatment plan for a variety of health problems.

Chiropractor

Chiropractors are also considered an alternative practice because they do not attend "traditional" medical schools. Chiropractors obtain a doctoral degree in chiropractic, from a chiropractic school. Chiropractors treat numerous problems of the musculoskeletal system. They are most commonly seen to treat back and neck pain, but many chiropractors treat a variety of other ailments too, such as headaches or illnesses.

Alternative Medicine vs. Conventional Medicine

If you would like to learn more about alternative medicine, the About.com Guide to Alternative Medicine is an excellent resource of information about the many types of complementary and alternative medicines. The guide also provides an excellent overview of the differences between alternative and conventional medicine, as well as some examples of conventional medicine.
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