How Can I Become a Holistic Doctor?

Explore how holistic medicine uses a philosophy of care incorporating conventional and alternative medicine. Learn about education, certification options and relevant salary information for this field. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Information At a Glance

Holistic medicine weaves Western medicine with different modalities of natural healing uses a philosophy of care incorporating conventional and alternative medicine. Read the following chart to explore details applying to this career.

Degree Required Doctorate, plus additional certification
Education Field of Study Medicine or osteopathic medicine, holistic methods and practices, integrative medicine
Training Required Conventional medical training, including residency, and focus on integrative medicine
Licensure Required National medical certification, American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM) board certification
Average Salary (2013) $187,199*

Source: *The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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.

What Salary Can I Expect?

There is no national data specifically available for holistic medical practitioners; however, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for all physicians and surgeons under the specification of 'other' in 2013 was $187,199. '' in March of 2015 reports that physicians with a degree in osteopathic medicine average a salary ranging between $111,390 - $195,002.

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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