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How to Get Started with A Career in Holistic Health

How to Get Started with A Career in Holistic Health

Holistic, natural, and alternative health and healing modalities are all the rage these days. More and more people are seeking a career in holistic health, rather than conventional medicine. There are many reasons for this. I think the overall trend is a result of the fact that despite the myriad of doctors, specialists, pharmaceutical drugs, treatments, and surgeries available under the umbrella of Western medicine people are not getting any healthier. Sure, one can argue that people are living longer now than ever before because of life-saving medical advances and don’t get me wrong, some of these do save lives and I think are necessary. However, when you consider how many doctor visits, tests, medications, and invasive procedures a large number of elderly people must endure on a regular basis you have to wonder if this is really the best way.

Most people who consider careers in healthcare do so because they want to help people.

It’s a great reason. I have to tell you though, I’ve encountered several doctors and nurses who are highly unsatisfied with how they are allowed to practice medicine because of restrictions placed on them by insurance companies and our nation’s healthcare (diseasecare, really) system. As a result, many have left the system and are practicing solo.

This is difficult for both the provider and the patients/clients because by not going through insurance, many of these providers are not affordable. While some insurance companies reimburse a percentage of the provider’s fees, it is still a challenge for many to pay for the services upfront, out of pocket. The providers also don’t have the benefit of being listed in insurance company provider directories, so they have to also become marketing experts in order to attract new patients–but it can still be challenging for potential patients to find them.

However, most feel that the benefits of being able to choose a provider who can order tests and make recommendations as they see fit as well as making recommendations for diet, lifestyle, supplementation, and traditional natural remedies are worth it because their health problems go away and don’t come back. These providers also spend much more time and energy with their patients in the office and even between sessions, which would be unheard of in most conventional medical practices.

So now, many people who want to help people are turning to careers in holistic healthcare, rather than conventional Western medicine.

massage and holistic healthHolistic refers to the whole person. Man or woman. It came from the term holism, which is less about the Pope and more about taking the approach that everything within and without us is connected to everything else. Someone who is whole in body, mind, and soul has a better chance of remaining healthy for a lifetime. For those who aren’t, there are plenty of therapies out there to either maintain an individual’s healthiness or help heal them when they’re sick.

So what is holistic healthcare?

Holistic (being the whole) doesn’t have just one way of succeeding. That wouldn’t make sense. If it looked at the whole and then just used one way to achieve an end, it would be going against its own ideals.

Holism is about enabling balance within a person, on personal, physical, mental, and even spiritual levels. Holistic health practitioners help individuals both healthy and sick to make lifestyle changes that encourage wellness, and even to establish respectful, two-way relationships with others and with their environment. This way they improve their interactions with the inner, physical, and outer world in an integrative, inclusive manner, and become empowered to make their own choices about their health.

Examples of the types of practice holistic health practitioners use might be yoga, hypnotism, massage, or osteopathy. There are also wider areas of practice, such as holistic psychology.

Are there qualifications for a career in holistic health?

There’s no definitive pathway into a career in holistic health, given the varied nature of the practices, so in terms of suitable qualifications, one size rarely fits all. Some modalities require college degrees, board certification, and state licensing; others do not.

The clearest way to look at it is for a potential practitioner to decide how they want to practice. If the preference is for working directly with patients in a clinical setting, an accredited degree course including supervised clinical experience can be gained either at a physical university or through online degree programs.

If it’s more preferable to work with patients by talking with them or assisting them in the use of special techniques, there are many home study courses that can deliver both the skills and knowledge to a desired standard.
The specific area of study is up to the student, but remember a holistic practitioner has to be able to practice something. It’s necessary first to be trained in a particular method of delivery (such as acupuncture, holistic health coaching, medicine, Ayurvedic nutrition, or Emotional Freedom Tapping [EFT]) and then to study holistic study programs. These teach the principles and philosophies of holistic health.

So what kind of job roles are out there?

Career in Healthcare and WellnessExperienced healthcare professionals who have completed studying in holistic practice will easily incorporate it into their everyday work. Even experienced MDs can do fellowships in naturopathy, integrative, functional, and Ayurvedic medicine.

For those fresh out of healthcare training, junior job roles are the first place to start. Assisting in a clinic; for example, a nursing auxiliary, reflexology assistant, or chiropractic assistant would be great jobs during or soon after training

Of course, holistic health coaching is a viable option as well and is really beginning to be the most accessible form of holistic healthcare available these days.

After a few years (and promotions and new jobs), the world’s an oyster. Individual practitioners choose to either work for themselves, or for an alternate, larger organization.

The choice is up to the individual, much like the treatment.

Hash it out with Rachael

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18 thoughts on “How to Get Started with A Career in Holistic Health”

  1. Hi Rachel. I’ve been studying various topics in holistic health as a sort of hobby for the past few years. I find it really interesting and I’ve decided I’d like to start a career in this field, and am trying to figure out the best way to begin this process. Basically I’d like to be self-employed as a consultant or coach, recommending nutritional, herbal and other therapies to clients without “practicing medicine.” I feel like I could already be doing this based on my current knowledge and on-going research.
    So I’m wondering, do I really need any formal education or certification for this? or does it just look better on paper? I’ve been checking out different online programs to become a certified holistic health practitioner, health coach or something similar, but a lot of the websites seem kind of sketchy to me. I’m hoping to get some good advice from someone who has already been working in this field. Thanks 😀 – James

    1. Hi James,

      It’s great that you are interested in holistic health and want to make a career of it! I would absolutely recommend obtaining some sort of certification from a reputable school both for professionalism and liability. I received my holistic nutrition and health coaching certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and can tell you that it is a top notch, legitimate, reputable, and very rewarding program. I would be happy to discuss this further with you if you are interested in learning more about this program. Feel free to contact me to schedule a call. Thanks for reading and for your comment!

      1. Hi again Rachael (sorry i misspelled your name the first time lol). Actually, IIN was one of the first schools I looked into. I was pretty impressed and am still considering them. One of my main concerns is that I live in Ohio where the “practice of nutrition and dietetics” is strictly (and in my opinion unfairly) regulated. So I’m not even sure I’ll be able to legally do what I want while living here. I’m still trying to figure out where exactly the line is drawn between dietetics and health coaching.. I guess it comes down to making specific recommendations vs. educating clients and letting them decide the best course of action for themselves?

        1. James that is a valid concern for sure! There is, indeed, a fine line–IIN does a great job of teaching how to practice without crossing that line–but yes, the emphasis is on coaching, not “fixing” or “treating”.

  2. Hello Rachael I obtained my Holistic Health minor from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan and loved it so much I want to pursue it as a career. Western offers an Integrative Holistic Health and Wellness Graduate Certificate Program. I was wondering if I did in fact go through that program would I be able to become a holistic health practitioner or do you think the Institute for Integrative Nutrition would be better? just trying to compare my options because it would be so awesome to help people become or stay healthy!

    1. Hello Cameron, thanks for your comment! I’m not familiar with the course offerings at Western but I know that what the Institute for Integrative Nutrition teaches incorporates all the tools you need not just to learn about holistic health and nutrition but also how to work with people and how to run your business and market your services. I’d be happy to provide you with further information if you’re interested. Feel free to contact me directly. Thanks! –Rachael

  3. Holistic Health is not just a fad.. it is a return to and a bringing together of health care knowledge and practices known for 1000’s of years around the world. The word health care should mean just that.. to care for your health (holistically) as opposed to the current medical world which should be called “Health Fix” and it’s not always very good at that either!!

    We certainly need more Holistic health practitioner in the world.

  4. Thanks Rachael for such a thoughtful article. I’m curious to hear about how you incorporate or combine your aesthetics education into your practice or is it a separate business?

    1. Hi Jacqueline! My aesthetics education has been an integral part of my health and image coaching practice and offerings, since they’re all centered around holistic skincare. It was a huge part of my own personal journey, so it also made its way into my book, Love Your Skin, Love Yourself too. What I learned about the skin and ingredients that benefit the skin also led me to make my own products, which I’ve been doing and teaching for several years now, which led to the creation of my online course, Create Your Skincare. So while I don’t do facials in a spa anymore, aesthetics is integrated everywhere else in my business:)

      1. Rachel,
        You are my spirit animal. Everything you have done thus far, is exactly a very similar journey I’m starting on. Thank you for your impact on the world, and giving me faith that I did pick the right path. ?

        1. Amanda, your comment made my day! Thank you for reading, and for taking the time to comment 🙂 –Rachael

  5. Hi, my name is Olyviah and I’m a second year college student. I’m EXTREMELY passionate about holistic health and it’s something I really want to get into but I’m not sure how to start. I’m very interested in the psychology aspect but I’m also very interested in the aspect of actually practicing medicine. I was wondering if you could tell me how to go about even starting the process of getting into holistic health and maybe some advice on how to choose?!

    1. Hi Olyviah–thanks for reading! If you want to practice medicine in a holistic fashion, you’ll need a medical license like a MD, DO, RN, ARNP, DC, and in some states an acupuncture license is considered a medical license. Many MDs are now getting board certified in fields like functional medicine and integrative medicine, and naturopathic medicine is also excellent. If you’d like to learn about holistic nutrition and practice as a health coach, check out my alma mater, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition?.

  6. Hi Rachael
    I’m 41 years old and have spent the 1st 20 years of my career in the retail/distribution field and have had a very successful run from all traditional perspectives. However, I find myself incredibly stressed out which carries over into my personal life and feel that I’m ready to make a career change. I have always had a passion for healing through food and even took a few courses (pre-children 10 years ago!) to try to make it into a career, but life and children got in the way :-). I would love to be able to speak with you one on one and listen to your journey and any advice or guidance you may have. Many thanks in advance.

    1. Hello Eva, thanks for reading! I am available for one-on-one consultation through my Hash it Out sessions. Click HERE to schedule a session. Thanks and look forward to speaking with you! –Rachael

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