Flexible Careers in Holistic Health

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Careers, Health & Fitness, Massage, Meditation & Yoga.

flexible-careers-holistic-healthAre you looking for a new career? Do you need a flexible work schedule? Do you yearn for a professional path into a field that’s growing? Do you want to help people every day? If so, exploring flexible careers in holistic health makes sense. Find out some of the top careers in natural and integrative health fields that offer practitioners the ability to make their own schedules, choose from a variety of work settings, and otherwise customize their professional life to their needs, interests and desires.

Top professions to consider

The demand for alternative medical treatments is growing, and Americans spend a significant amount of money on complementary treatments. Federal researchers announced last year that Americans spent almost $30 billion — or about $500 per person — annually on alternative medicine. Most of those dollars were spent on services, as opposed to herbal medicines or DIY treatments. The report said:

“More was spent on visits to complementary practitioners ($14.7 billion) than for purchases of natural product supplements ($12.8 billion) or self-care approaches ($2.7 billion).”

Becoming a practitioner of holistic health techniques means tapping into this growing trend. These are some of the disciplines to consider:

  • Acupuncture and Oriental medicine
  • Chiropractic care
  • Biofeedback
  • Reiki
  • Reflexology
  • Massage therapy
  • Yoga instruction
  • Kinesiologist
  • Homeopathic medicine

Attributes of flexible careers

Maybe you have a family and need to find a job that lets you achieve a work-life balance. Maybe you need a career path that will allow you to transition gradually (for example, by pursuing a degree while working in another field). Maybe you just don’t see yourself working a traditional 9 to 5 gig. Fortunately, holistic health offers a variety of careers that allow you to set your own schedule, and work as many hours as you can while balancing other life obligations. Massage is a great career option for mothers who need to work part-time, but may go back to full-time hours when their children become school age, for example.

In addition to the scheduling flexibility of holistic health careers, you’ll also be able to choose from a variety of work settings, from resorts, spas and gyms to medical facilities. Massage therapists and yoga instructors, for example, may also find work in corporate settings. Some practitioners may also offer their services through holistic health centers that offer a variety of holistic health treatments. Finally, many open their own practices. Mixing and matching is also an option — you could spend part of your week offering services in a corporate environment, at a spa and in a medical facility, for example.

Training for jobs in holistic health 

Depending on which avenue of holistic health you intend to pursue, the training requirements will differ. You may be able to get a certification to become a yoga teacher within a few months, for example, while an academic program in a field like chiropractic care or Oriental medicine will likely take years. Those disciplines with longer programs —such as massage, acupuncture and chiropractic care — will likely include a rigorous course of study, as well as clinical practice. Pursuing a certification in a field like Tai Chi or Qigong may require a shadowing a teach for a certain number of hours, for example.

When deciding what specific field to pursue, the American Holistic Health Association suggests asking yourself whether you want to help diagnose and treat those who are ill or injured through the recovery process in the manner of a traditional doctor or help people who are generally in good health enhance wellness. Let that answer guide which practices you consider.

Obviously, the longer the time commitment to become a legitimate practitioner of the discipline you pursue, the more financial investment you will likely make in your education. Fortunately, you can apply for financial aid at accredited colleges for fields like massage and acupuncture.

For more information about the Acupuncture & Massage College’s degree programs in Massage Therapy and Oriental Medicine, contact the admissions department at (305) 595-9500. Download the AMC’s free ebook to learn everything you need to know about careers in alternative medicine and holistic health.

Career in alternative medicine - Spotlight

What Do You Study at Acupuncture School?

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Education & Research.

acupuncture-schoolAre you considering attending or planning to enroll in acupuncture school? If so, congratulations! You’re well on your way to an exciting career helping people live their healthiest and happiest lives. But what exactly does a program at acupuncture school look like? What classes will you take and what will you learn? Each acupuncture school is likely to offer a program that’s a little different from the others, but read on to learn about the basics of what you can expect.

The basics

Of course, you will learn the needling techniques needed to perform acupuncture treatment, but there’s so much more to learn about this ancient practice. You’re likely to cover subjects like: the acupuncture points chart, the fundamentals of traditional Chinese medicine, ethics, anatomy and physiology, and more. Other classes might include:

  • Asian bodywork
  • Biology
  • Introduction to needling
  • Herbal medicine
  • Pathology

Differing philosophies

Like any institution of higher learning, acupuncture schools have many different philosophies that drive their programs. According to Acupuncture.com, there are two main approaches: Traditional Chinese Medicine/Eight Elements School and Five Element School. The Five Element approach is less common.

In addition to those two main philosophies, schools may have other unique approaches. Acupuncture.com cites the following as an example:

“Yo San University in Marina Del Rey, Calif. … teaches Taoist Classical Medicine, using both the Five Elements and TCM/Eight Elements approaches plus Energetic Systems of Chinese medicine, which are based on the ‘Yellow Emperor’s Classic’ and the I-Ching.”

Find out more about the philosophy of a particular school you’re considering in order to decide if a program is right for you.

Oriental medicine

Some acupuncture training programs might be part of a more comprehensive degree in Oriental medicine. If so, it will probably take you longer to earn your degree, but you’ll also gain additional knowledge. According to Natural Healers, some areas of study this type of program may include are:

  • Zang Fu theory
  • Dietary theory in traditional Chinese medicine
  • A type of massage called Tui Na
  • Herbal medicine

Some programs offer masters degrees and bachelors degrees as part of the same program. Decide what level of education you want to pursue, and how long you wan to be in school when evaluating your options.

Clinical education

Hands-on experience is practical knowledge you can take into the job market. Many acupuncture school degree programs run a clinics where students can gain experience in a real-world environment, and that will be part of your program of study. If your acupuncture school does not run a clinic, you may be working in other environments with professional practitioners to gain clinical experience.

Before you enroll

One of the best ways to get a feel for what it would be like to attend an acupuncture school is to observe a class or classes. Contact any prospective program’s admissions department and ask to sit in on a class in session. Talk to students or graduates about what they think of the program, and what their favorite courses are. If that school has a clinic that provides acupuncture services, book a session.

For more information on the Acupuncture & Massage College’s degree in Oriental Medicine, contact the admissions department at (305) 595-9500.

Career in alternative medicine - Spotlight

What Are the Benefits of Acupressure Massage?

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Massage.

benefits-of-acupressure-massageThe word “acupressure” sounds like it’s related to the practice of acupuncture, but you might be surprised to learn that this natural therapy doesn’t rely on the use needles. While acupressure treatment uses the same points on the body as acupuncture and shares some similar philosophies that come from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the practice involves manipulation of the patient using the hands.

Acupressure 101: The basics

Acupressure is a specific type of massage that relies primarily on using the thumbs, fingers and palms to apply pressure to various points on the body. Therapists may use various rhythms, pressures and techniques in the practice. Shiatsu massage is a style of acupressure therapy.

By applying pressure to specific points of the body, practitioners manipulate the flow of chi (qi) energy in the patient. Acupressure points — or acupoints — are locations on the body where chi may become congested or completely blocked. Acupressure massage is a natural holistic technique to address blockages that may be causing additional health problems.

Different types of points

When a therapist is using the acupressure massage technique, they target either local points or trigger points. What is the difference between these two types of points? Local points are the actual spots on the body where the patient is experiencing pain or discomfort. Trigger points are those that are connected to the points of the body experiencing pain or discomfort. These two types of points the practitioner multiple avenues from to approach a patient’s problem, a benefit of the practice.

The points used in acupressure massage exist among a network or meridians, which are basically the highways on which chi flows throughout the body. Sometimes pressure is needed at these points to clear up blockages and help ensure a healthy, balanced and harmonious flow of energy through the meridians.

Commonly used points

The points and meridians constitutes an extensive network throughout the body. Therapists use their knowledge of this network to address specific disorders and diseases in patients. One point, for example, called the Gallbladder Channel (GB20, Fengchi) exists at the base of the skull where the neck joins the back. Applying pressure there can help with a variety of ailments, from the common cold to high blood pressure. The Kidney Channel (KI3, Taixi) sits just behind the inner ankle. It is used to treat issues ranging from asthma to lower back pain.


There are 14 main channels. Acupressure may be used alongside other styles of massage therapy or as a complement to another holistic treatment, such as chiropractic care.

The benefits of acupressure

Along with its ability to help treat variety of ailments, patients experience additional benefits of acupressure massage. It’s a deeply relaxing experience and — like other types of massage — can help with:

  • Relieving stress, tension and anxiety
  • Improving sleep
  • Relaxing muscles and joints
  • Soothing the pain and discomfort of a sports or other injury
  • Reducing digestive issues
  • Minimizing headaches
  • Alleviating chronic pain

The therapy stimulates the body’s circulatory, lymphatic and hormonal systems. It also helps the function of the immune system and the body’s natural ability to heal itself.

For more information about pursuing a career in massage therapy, call the admissions department at the Acupuncture & Massage College at (305) 595-9500.

Four Steps to Changing Career Paths

Acupuncture for Fibromyalgia

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Conventional Medicine, Health & Fitness.

acupuncture-needleFibromyalgia is a syndrome of unknown cause that affects the body’s muscles and connective tissues, causing pain and fatigue. Currently, the disorder affects as many as 5 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. It has been reported to be two times as prevalent in veterans. Find out how acupuncture for fibromyalgia, along with other holistic treatments, may help alleviate the symptoms of this disorder.

One veteran’s experience

U.S. Army Brigadier General Becky Halstead, the first female West Point graduate in U.S. history to command at the strategic level in Iraq and Afghanistan, had to retire after being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. “Agonizing pain, debilitating fatigue, joint stiffness, and sleep deprivation — you name it and I felt it,” says Halstead. “There I was in Iraq, responsible for over 20,000 military men and women, and I privately struggled to physically keep myself going.”

As part of her initial course of treatment, Halstead was prescribed every drug imaginable. The pills only masked her pain and resulted in a downward spiral of reactions that affected her psychological and physical health. She discovered that chiropractic treatment improved joint motion, reducing — and in some cases eliminating — the pain and symptoms associated with fibromyalgia.

Acupuncture treatment for fibromyalgia

In addition to chiropractic treatment, acupuncture offers a viable treatment option for fibromyalgia that also positively impacts a patient’s overall wellness and health. Acupuncture treatment is tailored to an individual’s constitution and fibromyalgia syndrome pattern. The benefits of acupuncture for fibromyalgia and other ailments include:

  • Improves pain and musculoskeletal aches and stiffness
  • Treats fatigue and anxiety
  • Regulates sleep patterns
  • Increases energy

Why alternative medicine helps

Many individuals find that traditional Western medical therapies do not effectively treat the muscle pain caused by fibromyalgia and turn to alternative therapies such as acupuncture. The National Institutes of Health has issued a consensus statement concluding that acupuncture is effective in treating many pain-related conditions, of which fibromyalgia is one.

The Acupuncture and Massage College’s community clinic offers acupuncture, massage therapy and herbal medicine for the treatment of a wide range of health conditions, as well as for overall wellness. To schedule an appointment, call (305) 595-9500. For information about AMC’s Oriental Medicine and Massage Therapy programs you can email our admissions department.


Training Options for Holistic Health Careers

Posted by & filed under Acupuncture, Alternative Medicine, Careers, Massage, Meditation & Yoga.

holistic-health-careersMore than a third of all Americans use holistic therapies outside of traditional Western medicine to maintain their health and well being, according to research conducted by the National Institutes of Health. They also spend about $30 billion annually on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), according to federal researchers. That breaks down to about $500 per person.

The out-of-pocket spending on treatments that range from acupuncture to yoga to homeopathy — along with the expected growth in demand for services like massage therapy — make it a great time to get into holistic health careers. But how do you get training to practice? The time commitment and educational requirements vary broadly, depending on the career path you choose.

Find out more about some of the many holistic health careers training options below.

Massage Therapist

Training programs in massage therapy range from about 330 to 1,000 hours (or several weeks to two years) of instruction and potentially clinical practice, according to Natural Healers. The American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) reports that the average number of training hours is 671. Some 11 percent of massage therapists also practice other types of bodywork, according to the AMTA.


To become a licensed chiropractor typically requires completing a four-year program that has academic and clinical components. You will likely need a bachelors in science to gain admission to a program. A chiropractic education typically includes a rigorous course of studies in various sciences, including chemistry and physiology, in addition to hands-on clinical work.

Yoga Instructor

Training programs to become a yoga instructor vary in terms of time commitment, flexibility of scheduling, cost and even focus on a particular style of practice. Expect a program to to take anywhere between a few months to a year, depending on how much time you have to commit to training. Many training programs offer classes on nights and weekends, for those who want to train while working other jobs. Some styles of yoga you may choose to study include:

  • Ashtanga
  • Bikram
  • Hatha
  • Hot Yoga
  • Restorative
  • Vinyasa

Acupuncturist/Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Expect to spend three to four years completing a degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. Degree names may vary, but you’ll likely earn a master’s degree and learn how to stimulate specific points on the body using needles, as well as prescribe therapies using traditional Chinese herbs. In addition to using needles, you may also learn how to manipulate the body’s life force energy (qi) using:

  • Heat
  • Suction
  • Pressure
  • Electromagnetic energy

Tai Chi or Qigong Instructor

It typically takes about 150 hours to become a certified teacher of Tai Chi or Qigong, according to the American Tai Chi and Qigong Association (ATCQA). According to the ATCQA, many students of these ancient practices begin by becoming assistants to their own instructors. They then go on to obtain certification through the association before beginning to offer their own classes.

Some students choose to pursue credentials that allow them to practice multiple holistic health careers. Read about one graduate of the Acupuncture and Massage College who obtained a degree in both massage therapy and Oriental medicine.

Career in alternative medicine - Spotlight