Medicine is the study, art, and science of treating a disease or patient and caring for their diagnosis, treatment, prevention, palliation or cure. Medicine encompasses various healthcare practices developed over time to keep and restore physical health by the prevention or treatment of disease. The practice of medicine seeks to treat individuals with all types of disabilities by attempting to heal the body. A person who does not have a full understanding of how their body works or what conditions are serious can be at high risk for developing health problems that will require the attention of a physician.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) involves the use of a wide range of natural therapies and medicines in combination with medical procedures to provide patients with pain relief, promote healing, improve function and prevent or treat disease. CAM may include such treatments as acupuncture, chiropractic, herbal remedies, naturopathy, physical therapy, nutrition, orthopedics, sports medicine, speech pathology, and homeopathy. A doctor who is a practitioner of CAM can prescribe medications and therapies for their patients, but they do not receive specialized training in these fields. Many states now require that CAM practitioners provide a certain level of training, certification, or licensure before they can practice independently.
In order to be properly trained in complementary medicine, it is recommended that a student get a diploma in holistic health or counseling first. This will help them understand the relationships among body, mind, and spirit and will prepare them to learn how to select a suitable complementary medicine treatment option for their individual needs. Students should also obtain an internship during their residency in an approved clinic that focuses on treating pain and illnesses using CAM methods. After completing a formal education and internship, a student may apply to become a practicing complementary medicine doctor. Completion of a 4-year bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or PhD program will allow a student to become a licensed medical doctor in almost any state in the United States.