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.
Holistic 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?
Experienced 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.
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*Image 2 by Jaap Buijs