How to Become a Practitioner of Integrative Medicine

Dr. Steven Hall, residency trained family practice M.D., who integrated natural medicine and alternative methods of healing into his practice over 20 years ago, spoke with Allied Health World to tell of the journey that led him to establish his Integral Medical practice:

Steps to becoming a practitioner of Integrative medicine:

  1. Pursue a formal medical degree, osteopathy degree, doctor of naturopathy degree, or nursing certificate by first taking related courses in physiology, biology, chemistry, anatomy, kinesiology, etc.
  2. Gain exposure to both ancient and newly developed alternative approaches to health and wellness to become familiar with the known concepts of healing. This would include the various forms of bodywork.
  3. Adopt an Integral Worldview that is accepting of all known concepts of healing, both alternative and conventional.
  4. Explore different forms of complimentary and alternative bodywork. Find the ones that you have a natural affinity and propensity for.
  5. Pursue a certificate program in massage and bodywork through massage therapy or integrative medicine schools to develop mastery of your chosen bodywork modality.

Why integrative medicine?

For Dr. Hall, embracing the idea of integrative medicine so as to ultimately establish an Integral Medical practice of his own was a journey that began early in his career. It was shortly after med school at a time when he was practicing conventional medicine exclusively in his family practice. It was both an affinity for the idea of integrating all known concepts of healing into his practice, and a frustration at the limitations of conventional medicine that inspired Dr. Hall to pursue Integral Medicine.

Dr. Hall described some of the frustration that led him to adopt an Integral worldview: “In my day family practice meant you take care of the whole person and the whole family in the social network and the environmental network, and look at all those different variables. What I found in practice is that most family practice doctors weren’t doing that. What we were really trained to do in conventional medicine is treat symptoms. So you listen, find out what symptoms patients are having, give them a medication designed to suppress the symptom, then rush off to see the next patient. That was really unsatisfying to me because anybody that came in with any kind of complex issue that required you to actually stop and listen and think; that threw your whole schedule off. But those were the people that I was most interested in working with. What I needed was a way to get to the real root of the problem and not just treat the symptom.”

Dr. Hall went on to explain how he first began to explore alternative approaches to healing, “At first I thought maybe natural medicine had better answers than conventional medicine; they have a lot of good ways of treating things. What I found was the vast majority of natural practitioners are still treating symptoms. I looked into nutrition. I looked into herbs, homeopathy. I’ve read about Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. I looked at lots of different types of bodywork: chiropractic, osteopathy. I looked at a lot of different modalities that are out there and thought: How we can put them all together including conventional medicine.”

Thanks to pioneers like Dr. Hall, the next generation of natural health and healing art practitioners don’t have to take such a long road home. By helping to blaze the trail, Dr. Hall, and other like-minded MDs who have accepted an Integral Worldview, have demonstrated that conventional and alternative medicine can not only peacefully coexist, they can be complimentary to one another in providing the most well-rounded and universally wise approach to healing and wellness.

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