Get Ready for the Healthcare Career Game-Changer: Integrative Healthcare
Healthcare as we know it is going through dramatic – and exciting – changes. Integrative healthcare is at the forefront of those changes. And that will likely impact anyone interested in becoming a healthcare practitioner.
“Integrative healthcare reflects the fact that no one practitioner or discipline has all the answers,” says Dale Healey, DC, PhD, Dean of the College of Health and Wellness at Northwestern Health Sciences University (NWHSU).
That means the days of practicing in a silo and competing with every other healthcare professional out there are disappearing.
According to Healey, it also means that healthcare practitioners from a range of fields will need to work with and understand one another more than ever before.
An expanding job market for less invasive options
An integrative healthcare approach also reflects the growing interest in – and demand for – treatment options that are less invasive than surgery and prescription drugs.
That’s especially good news for the fields of chiropractic, acupuncture, and massage therapy.
Integrative healthcare bridges these professions with the kind of mainstream medicine typically practiced in hospitals and primary care clinics. And that means chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists will become increasingly integral to how healthcare is delivered.
Students in these fields will also be entering a healthcare job market that’s growing almost three times as fast as the national average for overall job growth.
If you’re thinking about becoming a chiropractor, acupuncturist, or massage therapist, Healey says to look for a school that positions you for success not only within your chosen field, but in the larger environment of integrative healthcare.
So how does a school prepare students for a career in integrative healthcare?
To find out, here are five important questions to ask when exploring your education options.
1. Why do I benefit more from a school that offers multiple healthcare programs?
Being exposed to a number of healthcare-related fields as a student can play a crucial role in preparing you for a career in integrative healthcare.
That’s why students benefit from attending a school that offers more than one field of study.
For example, NWHSU has three main clinical programs:
NWHSU also offers a Clinical Nutrition track to gain further credentials. This is in addition to recently adding the following frontline healthcare programs:
- Medical Assisting
- Medical Laboratory Science
- Medical Laboratory Technology
- Radiation Therapy
- Radiologic Technology
Though students choose a specific program to focus on, Healey explains that NWHSU gives them a unique environment to learn about other healthcare fields as well.
And this is critical. In order to bring an integrative healthcare mindset to the job market, Healey says it’s incumbent upon individual practitioners to have an understanding of what other disciplines bring to the healthcare equation.
There’s nothing necessarily wrong, says Healey, with a single-focus school that trains solely in, say, chiropractic care or massage therapy.
On the other hand, “It’s just much more challenging for them to provide the various kinds of experiences that help prepare students for a career in integrative healthcare.”
By the time a student graduates from NWHSU, for instance, they don’t only come away prepared to practice in their field. They have a significant grasp of other healthcare perspectives and are better prepared to practice an integrative healthcare approach.
2. How does the campus experience help prepare me for an integrative healthcare career?
At a school such as NWHSU, from day one you’re going to be surrounded not only by your classmates but also by students and faculty who may not necessarily be from your program.
And that can be a powerful factor. The social experiences alone help expose you to other healthcare perspectives.
Talking with students from other programs, learning about one another’s classes and career ambitions, attending various university-wide events – these things begin to increase your knowledge and awareness of other healthcare fields.
And remember this: The relationships you form today with students in other programs can become the professional referrals of tomorrow.
But when it comes to being prepared for a career in integrative healthcare, these examples are really just the beginning to the advantages of attending a school like NWHSU.
3. Will I learn alongside students from other disciplines?
Integrative healthcare is all about multiple professions coming together to provide treatment to patients. So why shouldn’t that camaraderie begin in school?
NWHSU has several integrative healthcare clinics where you not only train with experts and hone your craft. You’ll get to learn and practice alongside students from other programs.
That means you’ll get a jumpstart on communicating and forming relationships with healthcare practitioners outside of your own field.
And speaking of those clinics, you can also conveniently experience treatment yourself should you have a need for it. This can go a long way toward deepening your understanding of other disciplines, appreciating their value, and being able to talk intelligently about them.
Additionally, NWHSU has course offerings that bring students from various programs together, such as our Foundations of Evidence-Informed classes.
4. Does the school have partnerships with other institutions that will help prepare me for the broader healthcare landscape?
Integrative healthcare means more than just chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists working with one another to better serve their patients.
It also means working with medical doctors, physician’s assistants, physical therapists, nurses, social workers, and others.
In addition, students who choose careers paths in areas such as medical assisting, medical laboratory science, medical laboratory technology, radiation therapy, and radiologic technology will also have opportunities to become part of the integrative landscape of healthcare.
To be better prepared for a career in integrative healthcare, look for a school that exposes you to a variety of other healthcare professionals.
For example, NWHSU has formed partnerships with numerous other organizations.
Thanks to these partnerships, NWHSU students receive valuable training and experience in a wide range of healthcare environments and work alongside healthcare professionals in areas such as oncology, rehabilitation, emergency, and sports medicine, to name just a few examples.
5. What are the opportunities to expand my credentials, advance my career, and gain a competitive edge?
Once you enter a program, you may find that you’d like to further your education and pursue additional credentials. That’s especially true when you’re exposed to various perspectives at a multi-disciplinary school like NWHSU.
It’s also a lot more convenient and cost-effective to gain additional training and education at a single location. Consider these examples at NWHSU:
- Massage therapy students acquire a solid foundation of knowledge in health and the human body. For some, this background serves as an excellent springboard into the Chiropractic or Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine programs.
- Students can supplement their core area of focus by completing certificate programs in Clinical Nutrition. They can also opt to apply those certificate credits toward a Master of Health Science degree.
- A Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science is a great option for students looking to take their medical lab science career to the next level.
- Chiropractic students at NWHSU can add a specialization through a Sports Emphasis.
- Acupuncture students who complete the Master of Acupuncture program can continue on and complete the Doctor of Acupuncture program.
Get an edge with an education that prepares you for integrative healthcare
This is an exciting time to become a healthcare professional. Take the next step toward a bright future in integrative healthcare. Contact Northwestern Health Sciences University today to learn more!
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