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How Do I Become an Integrative Doctor?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
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If you want to become an integrative doctor, your approach depends on where you are in your medical schooling and career. If you have not yet begun medical school or are currently in medical school, you may wish to try and seek out a residency program with a focus on integrative medicine. On the other hand, if you are already a licensed physician, you may wish to complete additional education and training in various alternative healing modalities or even complete a degree in naturopathic medicine.

Integrative doctors, sometimes known as holistic doctors or alternative health doctors, typically integrate the practices and theories of standard medicine with so-called alternative approaches such as herbs, nutritional therapies, and bodywork. These particular techniques and therapies are not typically taught in standard medical schools, so someone who wants to become an integrative doctor will have to seek training in alternative health modalities outside the traditional medical curriculum. As integrative medicine and alternative therapies have attracted interest from both the general public as well as the medical industry, some residency programs now specialize in training doctors in integrative medicine. For an individual who wants to become an integrative doctor, securing one of these residencies may be his best option for getting the education and training that he wants and needs.

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If a medical student or doctor is unable to enter into an integrative medicine residency, she may instead choose to obtain education on her own. This may involve a regular program of continuing education courses that can train her in various alternative healing modalities as well as integrative medicine. Another option would be to enter a program at a school that teaches holistic therapies such as a school of naturopathy or a school of homeopathic medicine. In some cases, it is possible for doctors to complete certifications in alternative healing modalities while they continue to build their own practice.

It is always a good idea for an individual who wants to become an integrative doctor to be aware of the various licensing laws for the practice of various types of holistic medicine in the area where he wishes to work. For example, some jurisdictions regulate the practice of acupuncture, homeopathy, or different types of bodywork. Thus, it is a good idea to learn whether a person's medical license is enough to practice some of these modalities or whether she should obtain additional certification and licensure in a particular healing art.

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