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Should I Pursue an Alternative Medicine Bachelor’s Degree Program?

Majors Overview March 15, 2015

Energy medicine features various forms of modern alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, chiropractic care, acupressure, massage therapy, and other touch-based therapies. Programs in energy medicine include training in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. A degree in alternative medicine is one way to learn about energy medicine and what the field features.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Alternative Medicine

Students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs in alternative medicine are imparted a strong grasp of the mind–body aspect of medical treatment. A science-intensive curriculum is devised to make students adept at using alternative therapies aimed at guiding clients and patients to wellness.

Training is available through these programs on community wellness, complementary health care options, and Western medicine theories. Students enrolled in the program also learn about herbology, detoxification, and stress reduction techniques.

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma.

Coursework

Given that a substantial scientific core is essential to a bachelor’s degree program in alternative medicine, coursework has a heavy focus on behavioral, natural, and physical sciences. Programs may also include internships and capstone courses. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Psychophysiology and stress
•Body awareness
•Acupuncture
•Integrative wellness
•Naturopathy
•Chinese medicine
•Alternative medicine and disease
•Pharmacology
•Therapeutic massage
•Global health policy

Career Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program may seek entry-level careers in health professions, research and public policy, or fitness and wellness industries. These professionals can seek occupations in numerous diverse industries and positions. They can choose from popular career options such as:

•Yoga instructor
•Homeopath specialist
•Massage therapist
•Acupuncturist
•Spa director

Job and Wage Outlook

Over the 2010 – 2020 decade, job growth rates of 23% have been predicted for massage therapists. During the same period, fitness trainers, including yoga instructors, are expected to see a job growth rate of 13% (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Over the same decade, O*Net OnLine has projected 10% – 19% job growth for acupuncturists and resort managers.

In May 2012, massage therapists brought home an average annual wage of $35,970, while fitness trainers earned $31,720 over the same period (BLS). During the same period, acupuncturists and spa managers brought in respective average annual wages of $72,710 and $35,150 (O*Net OnLine).

Licensure and Continuing Education Choices

A bachelor’s degree in alternative medicine would suffice to obtain work in the field. Those who complete a bachelor’s degree program can enhance their career prospects through continuing education by earning advanced degrees offered by schools in several alternative medicine topic areas, such as Oriental medicine and nursing, chiropractic care, naturopathy, and social medicine.

Some medical schools may accept students with a bachelor’s degree in alternative medicine to their MD programs. Licensure may be compulsory for some careers in the field. For instance, licensure is mandatory in most states for massage therapists seeking to practice their profession (BLS). Acupuncturists that seek licensure would need to pass an exam to augment formal training.

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