The integrative and functional medicine field is growing. We currently have more jobs posted on the Integrated Connections job board than I’ve seen since we launched the platform in 2015. More exciting is that we’re trending for more than double the number of jobs in 2021 compared to 2020.
Patients are demanding personalized healthcare and an increasing number of clinicians are seeking opportunities that allow them to meet their patients’ needs. Doctors and other health practitioners are leaving the traditional medical system, looking for a more fulfilling career in integrative medicine. Others remain in the conventional system and pursue education to acquire skills so they can integrate functional medicine practices within their current setting. In addition, there are providers who have an entrepreneurial spirit and decide to start their own practices.
Sometimes, these options present a crossroads for providers considering all three as a potential career path. We’re here to help you determine which could be the best road for you to take in your functional medicine career.
At the heart of every option is achieving new skills, and an education in personalized medicine can elevate your career to the next level. This article will explore how an education in integrative and functional medicine can help you transform your patients’ health and revitalize your career.
How the Medical Field has Evolved in 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way we think about healthcare. Before this, people were suffering from chronic diseases and seeking personalized care that conventional medicine couldn’t offer.
Now, as we move out of the pandemic, more practices will also be affected by long-haulers and those whom optimal health is now a priority to build resiliency against future illness. It is more important than ever to provide patient-centered care that gets to the root cause of illness and improves health.
As integrative and functional medicine becomes more sought after, the demand for functional medical practitioners will only increase. This means that you will require additional training to meet this demand and to be competitive in this growing field. Patients are demanding that we address our flawed healthcare system. Providing them with access to personalized healthcare is the solution. Clinicians with education in personalized medicine will be poised to meet this demand.
Below, I’ll share some accredited schools in the field where you can get an education.
Transitioning Into the Integrative and Functional Medicine Field
Healthcare providers who are currently in the conventional medicine setting may be considering a career change for a number of reasons. Some of the most common ones we’ve come across include:
- taking a more patient-centered approach
- feeling unfulfilled in their current practice
- burnout from the corporate medical setting
Many of these providers remember why they started their career, and feel that transitioning into this personalized medicine approach will be more in alignment with what they set out to do in the first place.
Pursuing an education in functional medicine will help these providers do just that. Combined with their previous career experience, this education will give them more tools to help their patients, and make them far more marketable in this competitive job market. Obtaining an education in the field shows initiative to a potential employer, who will be more likely to pursue a relationship with a provider already equipped with these skills.
Functional Medicine Training to Grow Your Skillset
I’ve also spoken to clinicians who wish to offer functional medicine approaches so they can achieve better outcomes in their conventional practice.
These providers want to treat the whole person and integrate lifestyle recommendations into their treatment plans. They want to educate patients on the modifications necessary to transform their health. They understand the importance of prevention and that empowering their patients is the best approach to wellness.
On the other hand, they may have heard their patients mention holistic approaches they learned from “Dr. Google” and would like to better understand how to communicate about, and perhaps complement care, with these ideas.
And because of their education in the field, many of these clinicians become a resource for their peers in the practice.
Regardless of your intent to pursue an education in integrative and functional medicine, choosing the right institution for you to learn these skills is critical to your career.
Start a Functional Medicine Practice
I regularly speak with providers who want to start their own practice. They have an entrepreneurial spirit and are excited about the idea of building a practice from the ground up.
This requires a pretty significant shift because, in addition to their “doctor” hat, they will now have to also wear the hats of the accountant, HR team, marketer, PR representative, IT expert, and so on–especially before they can afford to hire out these roles.
Having their own practice gives them the freedom to choose how they will approach patient care and the business model that will work best for their demographics.
In addition, providers who start their own practice often find it affords them more flexibility in determining the types of integrative approaches they utilize, and they won’t feel limited in their scope of treatment.
When pursuing this track, learning about human resources policies, recruiting, and business practices should also be part of your education. HR is critical to the success of a new practice, and mistakes can be costly, to say the least.
Integrative and Functional Medicine Programs
Once you get an education, you’ll be surprised at the doors that start to open. The field is so much more than a passing trend, and if the accreditation of educational institutions is any indication, it’s here to stay. It’s vital to ensure that you obtain the best education possible for your career goal, and, of course, to build a credible reputation in the field.
Once you’ve found the right schools, now it’s important to find the right fit. I recommend signing up for free eCourses at the institutions you have an interest in so you can get a sense of the program and type of education to expect. Consider also joining online forums and speaking to peers who have attended these institutions to see which program they chose, why they did it, and how they feel it enhanced their career. Doing some research and exploration will guide you to the right program for you.
Following are six accredited schools to get you started. I’ve also created a download with ways to jump-start your career in the field here.
- Institute for Functional Medicine
- Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine
- American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine
- Andrew Weil Center for Integrative Medicine
- Maryland University of Integrative Health
- University of Western States
When it’s time to make the move to start your new career in integrative and functional medicine, you need a cover letter and CV that shine the best light on you. Integrated Connections Academy offers an in-depth course created specifically for those pursuing jobs in this field. To stay on top of new opportunities in the field, be sure to sign up for my newsletter.
And to find the best jobs (or to hire the right candidate if you’re starting a practice), we offer the most extensive job board in the personalized medicine industry, as well as an on-demand HR platform created just for medical practices.
NOW is the time to make practice medicine in this exciting, evolving industry!