PhD Programs in Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Complementary and integrative medicine combines holistic practices with conventional, Westernized medicine. After earning your medical degree, you can consider studying complementary and integrative medicine to broaden your medical knowledge. Keep reading for education, career and training information. Schools offering Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is Complementary and Integrative Medicine?

The term complementary and integrative medicine refers to products and practices that accompany traditional medicine. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, as of 2007, 38% of American adult patients surveyed use complementary medicine. Integrative medicine is similar to alternative medicine, but alternative medicine refers to that which patients use in place of conventional medicine.

Many complementary medicine treatments are often ages-old practices used by ancient civilizations. These techniques aren't recognized as modern medicine, but have been used for millennia. Complementary medicine may include acupuncture, dietary supplements, herbal supplements, probiotics, meditation, tai chi, hypnotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic care, magnet therapy, Reiki and music therapy. Many other types of practices and products are available; this list is only a small number of therapies.

Subjects Taught Reiki, tai chi, music therapy, massage therapy, pro-biotics
Program Levels Bachelor's degree, doctorate; specific complementary and integrative medicine Ph.D. programs are not available
Other Requirements Residency is required during medical school; fellowship in integrative medicine
Licensure Requirements Licensure is not required to practice integrative medicine; all states require practicing allopathic physicians to be licensed, and licensure is available after graduation
Median Salary (2018) $73,960 (for health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 13% growth (for health diagnosing and treating practitioners, all other)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Can I Earn a Ph.D. in This Field?

Ph.D. programs in complementary and integrative medicine aren't available. Advanced training in this field is usually undertaken after completing a science-based bachelor's degree program and finishing medical school. Once you have earned your Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree, you'll then go into a residency, through which you'll study the area you want to specialize in, then you'll become eligible for licensure. Common specialties include emergency care, cardiac care, surgery, orthopedics or complementary and integrative medicine.

Many who pursue this field complete their residency in another field, and then pursue a fellowship in complementary and integrative medicine after earning their license. Through a fellowship, you'll learn the practices of complementary and integrative medicine as they fit in with Western, or allopathic, medicine.

What Does a Fellowship Involve?

Many college hospitals offer fellowships in integrative medicine. Through these fellowships, you'll work with a mentor and learn the basics of complementary medicine, which includes studying botanical and herbal supplements as well as examining effective treatments with such physical practices as yoga or tai chi. You'll participate in your mentor's ongoing research and conduct your own. You'll study complementary medicine philosophies and future practices. You'll practice grant writing and evaluating diagnoses. You'll also work extensively in a clinical environment, treating patients in complementary care centers.

What About Licensure?

A fellowship takes place after completing your medical degree program and your residency and after earning your license. While you may seek voluntary credentials for complementary and integrative medicine, the government doesn't require licensure to practice this particular area of non-traditional medicine. However, since this area of medicine is complementary to Western medicine, you'll still need a license to practice general 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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