First Steps to a Career in Natural Health

By Jenny Masterson on October 13, 2011

Medicine is one of the fastest growing fields of employment. Training programmes abound for people who want to become a nurse, medical technician, or pharmacist, along with dozens of other medical-related careers. However, despite the growth in this field, there are also those who have grown somewhat wary of traditional Western medicine. Scientists have increasingly been turning their eyes to studying the medical practices that kept humankind healthy long before science as we know it was established, and are discovering that there is more to some of these practices than the placebo effect. As more patients turn to natural therapies, more prospective medical practitioners are turning to careers that employ alternative healthcare methods.

It is difficult to find a place to start when delving into a new field, and the world of natural therapies and medicine is no exception. There are ways to narrow down which path to follow and subsequently find a way to study your chosen field until you can practice it, gaining certification or a degree in the process if necessary.

Hit the Library

Find books that discuss different types of therapies, like massage and reflexology, counselling, herbal medicine, hypnotherapy, aromatherapy, and acupuncture. Learn what goes along with practicing these therapies, and if you will be comfortable performing these tasks. For instance, if you have a phobia of sharp objects, you certainly wouldn’t pursue a career in acupuncture.

Attempt the Basics

To discover what you have natural talents for, know what you’re getting into, and gain passion for future study, practise the basics on yourself, in reasonable ways. Clearly, you wouldn’t give yourself acupuncture or concoct Chinese herb elixirs; however, you can find a gentle herb, make some tea, and note its effects on your body. Give yourself a foot rub as you study a reflexology map. A book or workshop that presents an introduction to the practise will be the key to accomplishing this.

Receive Treatment from a Professional

Reaping the benefits of the practise you want to learn will help you directly understand the worth of the therapy for your future patients. This will also give you access to a professional in the field, who can direct you to books, workshops, and people that can help you in your journey. Limit yourself to a handful of questions during the course of their business day; if they seem willing to talk to you, ask if it would be possible to email or see them later with your questions.

Build a Network of Support

Seek professionals, students, and hobbyists of your desired therapy, and offer your assistance in return for guidance and support. Professionals may desire an apprentice or volunteers, or simply wish to pay forward the guidance and support they began their course of study. Students often need volunteers to help them study, either through direct practise or text, while they pursue their education. Hobbyists simply enjoy practicing their hobby, and many are delighted to have someone to share it with.

Books and workshops will help you decide which alternative fields of medicine you are interested in, while your network helps to point you towards further resources and provides the human element to keep you interested. This exploration will aid you in finding the educational institution that will mold you into a professional in the field, and possibly the means to pay for it through grants, scholarships, internships, and apprenticeships. Good luck in your new career!

Photo: My Roommate Studying by Al Muya; Classical Thai Massage by Tara Angkor Hotel

About the author:

Jenny Masterson is a career advisor and also contributes content for thebestcolleges.org, a website providing college rankings, reviews and even a list of the best online schools of 2012

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