Integrative doctors combine standard medicine with holistic healing techniques.
If you want to become an integrative physician, your approach depends on where you are in your medical education and career. If you have not yet started medical school or are currently studying medicine, you can try and pursue a residency program with a focus on integrative medicine. On the other hand, if you are already a licensed physician, you may wish to complete additional education and training in various alternative healing modalities or even complete a degree in naturopathic medicine.
Naturopathic physicians are licensed physicians who consult on non-invasive healing modalities, which often include meditation and yoga.
Integrative practitioners, sometimes known as holistic practitioners or alternative health practitioners, typically integrate standard medicine practices and theories with so-called alternative approaches such as herbs, nutritional therapies, and bodywork. These specific techniques and therapies are not typically taught in standard medical schools, so someone who wants to become an integrative physician will have to seek training in alternative health modalities outside the traditional medical curriculum. As integrative medicine and alternative therapies have attracted interest from both the general public and the medical industry, some residency programs now specialize in training physicians in integrative medicine. For an individual who wants to become an integrative physician, getting one of these residencies may be their best option to get the education and training they want and need.
In some jurisdictions, naturopathic physicians are certified to diagnose illness and prescribe medication.
If a medical student or physician cannot enter an integrative medicine residency, they may choose to pursue education on their own. This may involve a regular program of continuing education courses that can train you in various alternative healing modalities as well as integrative medicine. Another option would be to join a program at a school that teaches holistic therapies, such as a school of naturopathy or a school of homeopathic medicine. In some cases, it is possible for physicians to complete certifications in alternative healing modalities while continuing to build their own practice.
It is always a good idea for an individual who intends to become an integrative physician to be aware of the various licensing laws for the practice of various types of holistic medicine in the area in which they intend to work. For example, some jurisdictions regulate the practice of acupuncture, homeopathy, or different types of bodywork. Therefore, it is a good idea to know if a person’s medical license is sufficient to practice some of these modalities, or if they must obtain additional certification and license in a specific healing art.