Integrative medicine is an emerging field of healthcare that incorporates a variety of medical philosophies under one umbrella.
Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other healthcare professionals who work in integrative medicine are concerned with the well-being of the “whole” person — the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and environmental factors in health.
Andrew Weil, a Harvard-trained physician and theorist, is widely credited with combining the principles of alternative and complementary medicine with those of evidence-based medicine. The resulting field of integrative medicine has gained widespread acceptance over the years, and is taught at prestigious institutions such as Duke University and the University of Arizona.
There are many career paths associated with integrative medicine. Integrative medicine is practiced by MDs and DOs (doctors of osteopathy), as well as nurse practitioners, nurse-midwives, physician assistants and any “traditional” healthcare profession you can name.
The principles of integrative health are used by professionals in public health practice, ambulatory care, hospitals and everywhere you might seek healthcare.
In addition, the field of integrative medicine encompasses a range of professions that might be considered non-conventional by the scientific community. Yet, millions of individuals swear by the treatment they receive from professionals such as:
- Health coaches
- Wellness coordinators
- Naturopathic physicians
- Massage therapists
- Ayurvedic medicine practitioners
- Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners
- And more
A good place to begin in considering a career in integrative medicine is the website for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. This department within the National Institutes of Health provides scientific research that supports or debunks certain alternative or complementary methods of healthcare.
Meanwhile, here’s a chance to test your knowledge of integrative medicine. Take the Healthcare Daily Online integrative medicine quiz and find out how much you know (or how much more you need to research the topic):