How Can I Become a Holistic Doctor?

Holistic doctors offer a philosophy of care that incorporates conventional and alternative medicine. Keep reading to see what holistic doctors do and what they study. Learn about certification options. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Holistic Doctor?

Holistic medicine weaves Western medicine with different modalities of natural healing and a perspective on health that encompasses the whole patient. A holistic doctor, or holistic physician, lets the patient have autonomy over his or her own health and believes that the body is capable of healing itself under the right conditions. The conditions that cause disease are more significant to a holistic doctor than the symptoms alone. A Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) or a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.) with some training in holistic medicine could become certified as a holistic doctor.

What Must I Study?

As an aspiring holistic doctor, you'll begin on the same career path as a conventional doctor. You might study premed during your first four years of college to prepare for medical school. Volunteering at a hospital or clinic can familiarize you with the healthcare field.

After earning your bachelor's degree, you will need to attend medical school for four years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( You will be required to take the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) to be accepted. For the first two years of medical school, you will study the natural sciences, ethics, psychology and laws governing medicine. You will work in a hospital or clinic for the second two years, practicing under the guidance of a physician. Following medical school, you'll begin a residency.

You could obtain the experience in integrative medicine that you'll need for certification through an elective rotation or a specialized residency program. An integrative medicine elective rotation in the final year of graduate school or during your residency would give you a foundational knowledge of integrative medicine and a focus within integrative medicine. A residency program with an emphasis on integrative medicine might incorporate stress management and coping strategies into a holistic wellness curriculum.

How Do I Become Certified?

To practice as a physician, you'll first have to become licensed. For M.D.s, this means passing the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. If you're an osteopathic physician, you'll need to pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

The American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine assigns standards for doctors who have knowledge of holistic medicine. If you choose to take the ABIHM's certifying exam, you would be listed on their website as an integrative holistic physician. By becoming board certified, you let patients and other medical professionals know that you have strong knowledge base in integrative holistic medicine.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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  • University of the Rockies

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  • Capella University

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    Popular programs at Capella University:

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