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What is Alternative Medicine Practitioner?
An Alternative Medicine Practitioner uses a only natural approach. They avoid any use of pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.
They may use one or more therapies to treat patients who are not considered a part of conventional medicine. Many times an alternative medicine is also used in combination with mainstream medicine to get enhanced healing results.
As an Alternative medicine practitioner, you could be a Naturopathic doctor or a chiropractor, or even a Reiki grandmaster.
But first, let us understand…
Why do people choose Alternative medicine?
Although people were sceptical about alternative medicine research has shown otherwise. Today, a growing number of medical professionals now advise the combination use of these therapies. Also most of these alternative therapies are now also covered under medical insurance.
NCCIH (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) reports that 40% of American population uses Alternative medicine. HUGE, right?
Alternative medicine is not only cheaper than conventional medicine but also has many added advantages.
Listed below are the many benefits of Alternative medicine:-
· Attack the roots
Conventional medicine only treats the symptoms of a disease, while most alternative medicine therapies treat the underlying cause. Moreover, Alternative medicine ensures a overall mind and body healing and is more beneficial in the long run.
· No more side-effects
Many times consuming these prescription drugs has some secondary adverse effects on our body, be it dizziness or nausea. Fortunately, this not the case with most Alternative medicines. but yes! , to be consumed only after consulting your practitioner.
· Natural and safe
These therapies offer medicines that are natural instead of the artificial chemicals manufactured by big pharmaceutical companies. Thus these are safer to consumed causing no dependency.
· Do it your way
These treatments are often flexible to adopt as per the lifestyle and circumstances of an individual. Be it a diet plan or physical exercises, a therapist gets to decide what works best for a patient as per his own requirements.
· From Something to anything
Alternative medicine offers a broad range of therapies that can be useful in treating almost anything. Be it migraine or drug addiction, or even hypertension, name it, we have an answer.
So let us now get into the details.
What exactly is Alternative Medicine?
The term Alternative medicine describes a range of healing therapies, which are beyond the realm of mainstream medicine.
The core principle of alternative medicine is treating an individual as a whole, promoting a state of all-around well-being.
It aims at treating both mind and body, attaining good health.
Yes, many case studies have given solid proof on the benefits of these therapies. Today, alternative medicine is even taught in more than 70% medical schools across USA.
Alternative medicine is a broad term which refers to long list of therapies.
Given below are a few major ones as per simple classification:
1. Medicinal based therapies
This is 5000 year old healing therapy which aims to strike a balance between the basic element of our body, wind, fire and Earth. A therapist first examines and identifies which of these elements are out of balance. The therapists then suggests a suitable herbal medicine and a diet plan.
This system of healing came in the late 18th century, and works on the principle of ‘like cures like”. It uses very dilute quantities of an ingredient, which would also cause the symptoms of the disease. Taking a small quantity of such an ingredient enhances body’s healing capability. It works based on boosting the immunity against the disease.
It’s natural, non- invasive and quiet popular for it’s healing effects.
· Chinese herbal medicine
Originated about 2500 years ago, this aims at balancing the combination of Yin & Yang in our body. A practitioner may recommend different parts and quantities of medicinal plants. These may include leaves, roots or seeds. You can prescribe them based upon understanding the severity of illness.
These herbs are safer to consume and have much less side-effects as compared to chemical counterparts.
2. Body based therapies
This 2500 year old traditional Chinese medicine, is a well known therapy. It involves inserting tiny needles at various energy meridians located in the body. This process rectifies the energy disruptions in the body bringing back a state harmony and balance.
As per a 2003 WHO report, acupuncture has proven effective to treat High/low blood pressure, sciatica, arthritis, migraine and a lot more.
This modern therapy helps in improving the body structure by aligning the spinal cord. This therapy has shown remarkable results for patients suffering from back pain, head aches and other mechanical disorders.
A 2007 survey by NHIS reports that about 18 million adults in America have used chiropractic or related treatments. Yes, it is still very popular today.
This is also a similar body manipulation therapy which helps to strengthen the whole muscle-skeletal frame of the body. A practitioner uses physical adjustments, stretching exercises, body awareness to get the body in its best form.
Using it to treat physical ailments like Arthritis and tennis elbow has proven effective. Treating internal disorders like digestive issued and sleeping cycles is also possible.
3. Mind based therapies
This technique involves bringing an individual into a trans-like state. In this state one demonstrates a high response to suggestion, deep relaxation and focused attention. As a therapy it helpful to treat both psychological as well as physical ailments. People have been using it to overcome phobias, deal with chronic pains and manage many stress related problems for ages.Read more here.
4. Energy based therapies
This is a Japanese technique which uses “Qi” or life energy to heal a person not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. As a therapy it used to reduce effects of stress, manage pain and speed up the healing process.
It’s very popular in USA with above 1.3 million Reiki users.
This core principle of the field is using the healing power of nature. It uses an assortment of therapies. They include acupuncture, homoeopathy, herbal medicine and nutrition.
It not only focuses on the disease but also on the physical and mental health of the patient.
How they choose an Alternative Medicine Practitioner?
This profession has seen a rapid growth in the last decade and continues to attract more and more practitioners every day. In this competitive and diverse market a patient has plenty of options to choose from.
Here are a few important criteria to keep in mind before selecting a practitioner:
· Qualification and credibility
The client always checks whether a practitioner has a certification and training from an accredited institution. This is often the first thing that a patient checks about a practitioner and is the most important differentiator.
Your qualification and experience would directly impact your career growth.
· Area of expertise
It is valuable for patient to know if you have a mastery in treating a particular condition. This could be treating chronic pain, stress related ailments or depression, usually based upon your past experience.
Knowing and promoting your specialization will make you easily noticed by patients.
· Understanding patient’s needs
It is necessary for a therapist to connect with a patient and have a thorough understanding of his problems. This is what makes a therapy more effective, and only after this a patient starts to value a therapist.
· Value for money
Many a times a patient doesn’t return to a therapist after the very first session. This is usually because one expects a to see quick results, which a therapist fails to deliver.
A therapist should ensure that a patient knows how many sessions will be required until the actual healing to take place.
Requirements for running a successful practice
Here is list of few must-have enablers that would make your practice flourish
· A broad network
Patients usually seek an alternative medicine practitioner by recommendation of their primary health advisors. It is important to have a strong network among local doctors, hospitals and insurance companies to ensure steady flow of patients.
· Keeping up to date
It’s is definitely advantageous to get the highest possible degree in your chosen field. You should also keep upgrading your skills by doing some continuing education courses.
One can also learn a different therapy, which could not only enhance the healing effects of an existing therapy, but would also broaden your market.
It’s a basic requirement for every therapist to have a catchy website for promotion. A therapist must showcase his credentials, facilities and testimonies from previous patients.
One could also offer online consultation for web-based clients.
It is wise for a practitioner to start one’s practice at a location where there is no or less competition. If you are an experienced practitioner you could start with your own private practice,but as fresher it recommended that you first gain some hands-on experience by working at a clinic, hospital or wellness center.
As a practitioner you might have to offer something extra for your clients convenience. Working at late evening hours or during the weekends would definitely give you an edge over the competing practitioners.
Now, let’s get to the most important step. How to become an alternative medicine practitioner
How to become an Alternative Medicine Practitioner
Alternative medicine is becoming increasingly popular day by day and is also quickly gaining acceptance by conventional medicine and scientific research.
Alternative medicine as a profession is considered very lucrative by many, there are countless who aspire to be trained in this domain.
Likewise, there are abundant educational opportunities offered at both public and private institutions. One may start with basic certification or diploma and even earn a doctorate degree in chosen field.
Alternative medicine being a diverse field with so many disciplines involved, the educational requirements are not standard for all.
For naturopathy or acupuncture, you may have to complete 4 year graduate degree before you can practice. While there are courses which can even be completed within 2-3 months, for example learning Hypnotherapy.
Average tuition cost:
This will vary according to your choice of field and duration of the course.
Average cost of for studying naturopathy is $2500 per year.
Homeopathic courses may cost you between $250 to $1000, depending upon course depth and duration. Hypnotherapy training may cost $700 for an online course, and around $2100 for classroom training.
Licensing is mandatory before one can officially start his own practice. In USA licensing laws are not centrally regulated and each state has its own requirements. As a practitioner you might have to clear a written as well as a practical test to get licensed.