The concept behind holistic health management is treating the whole patient as an individual, with care and attention. No national standards exist for the profession, however. Practitioners can be physicians who practice complementary and alternative medicine, nurse practitioners, acupuncturists, chiropractors or massage therapists. Salaries vary according to discipline.
Physicians who practice holistic medicine are likely to be primary care specialists such as family practitioners, internists and general pediatricians. Osteopathic physicians in particular receive training focused on primary care; they might go into family practice, internal medicine or pediatrics. These doctors are trained in the traditional medical school, residency and specialty fellowship system, and learn CAM principles through additional training, seminars and online courses. All must be licensed to practice and are typically board-certified. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports general pediatricians earned an average annual salary of $170,530 in 2013. Family practice physicians earned $183,940 and general internists earned $188,440.
Naturopathic and Chiropractic Medicine
Naturopathic physicians are another group that practices holistic medicine. Naturopaths are similar to family practitioners in that they care for patients of all ages, but they use both conventional therapy and alternative treatments such as herbs. Their education is similar to that of a conventional physician – including college and medical school -- and may actually require more clinical hours than traditional medical education. Explore Health Careers reports naturopathic physicians earned $80,000 in 2014. Chiropractors typically have a college degree and attend a four-year Doctor of Chiropractic program. Although chiropractic is sometimes seen as being spinal manipulation only, chiropractors are trained in whole-body medicine. Chiropractors earned an average annual salary of $78,410 in 2013, according to the BLS.
Holistic Nurse Practitioners
Nurse practitioners are registered nurses whose scope of practice is similar to that of a physician. They are authorized to make medical diagnoses, order lab tests and prescribe medications. A nurse practitioner must have a minimum of a master’s degree and be licensed in all states. Most states also require certification. Like other conventionally trained health practitioners, NPs typically take additional training in holistic medicine and CAM after they graduate. The BLS reports NPs earned an average annual salary of $95,070 in 2013.
Traditional and Oriental Medicine Practitioners
Other holistic medicine practitioners include acupuncturists, Ayurvedic practitioners, Chinese herbalists, homeopaths and massage therapists, according to the American Holistic Medicine Association. These practitioners have varying educational and licensure requirements and may be certified. For example, Chinese herbalists do not need to be licensed, Ayurvedic practitioners are trained in Indian medical schools, and various organizations offer certification for these practitioners. The BLS has salary data only for massage therapists, who earned an average annual salary of $40,400 in 2013. Explore Health Careers reports acupuncturists and oriental medicine practitioners earned salaries ranging from $30,000 to $150,000 in 2014.