Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine
Why Pursue a Career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine?
Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine is a part of integrative and functional medicine. Integrative medicine is a combination of traditional treatments and alternative therapies in order to treat the whole person with a holistic approach. It works to correct the mind, body, and spirit so the entire body is able to heal. Functional medicine is an approach that focuses on the optimal function of the body and helps the body function in the best way possible. Functional medicine looks deeper than just managing symptoms.
Going into Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine combines these two fields while focusing on the six pillars of Lifestyle Medicine. These are nutrition, physical activity, stress management, restorative sleep, social connection, and avoidance of risky substances.
According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Lifestyle Medicine is, “a medical specialty that uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions including, but not limited to, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Lifestyle medicine certified clinicians are trained to apply evidence-based, whole-person, prescriptive lifestyle change to treat and, when used intensively, often reverse such conditions.”
Lifestyle medicine is able to address up to 80% of chronic illnesses and is the core of health and well-being.
If you have the desire to help patients make better choices with their diets, alcohol use, exercise habits, sleep, and mental health in order to reduce illness and disease, going into Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine is a good idea.
Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine Career Outlook
The career outlook for the Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine field is good as more and more people look to this type of health and wellness care. People are interested in finding different ways to be and stay healthy in our modern world.
According to BLS, which is the Bureau of Labor Statistics, selected occupations that focus on supporting wellness are projected to have strong growth over the next 10 years. In addition, Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers are projected to grow 12% from 2021 through 2031, which is much faster than average for all occupations. 16,000 job openings for Health Education Specialists and Community Health Workers are projected each year for the next decade.
When it comes to salaries, a Health Education Specialist or a Community Health Worker can make an average of $54,081, according to Salary.com.
Here is a breakdown of similar careers and how much you can expect to make from each of them.
Annual Salaries – Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine
|Health and Wellness Coach
|Community Health Worker
|Public Health Administrator
Location can also play a part in your salary. In California, the average annual salary for a Health Education Specialist or a Community Health Worker is $70,650, and in Texas, it is $54,440. You can read more about locations at BLS.
Skills Gained with an Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine Degree
Within the Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine field, there are a variety of degrees you can pursue. Some examples are:
- Integrative and Functional Medicine
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Lifestyle Medicine
Within these degree programs, a student will develop the skills they need for a career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine. These skills include:
- Communication skills
- Problem-solving skills
- Scientific knowledge
- Written communication
- Interpersonal skills
- Organizational skills
- Logic skills
Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine Career Paths
There are different types of careers you can pursue within the Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine field. Here are a few examples:
- Nutritionist – Where you would counsel clients on healthy eating habits and nutritional issues and are knowledgeable in what foods can help promote health.
- Public Health Administrator – Where you would work to improve the welfare of the community and give out information about health and wellness.
- Epidemiologist – Where you would be a public health worker who finds patterns and causes of disease as well as causes of injuries.
- Health Coach – Where you would support clients to help them improve their health and well-being by using behavioral changes and figuring out obstacles to maintaining healthy habits.
- Lifestyle Medicine Specialist – Where you would focus on the six pillars of lifestyle medicine to help patients.
How to Start Your Career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine
Ideally, you would get your master’s degree in order to have a career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine. In order to get a master’s degree, you would first need a bachelor’s degree, which takes 4 years. A master’s degree would take you around 2 years to complete.
Master’s Degrees in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine
You can go on to get a Master’s in:
- Integrative and Functional Medicine with a Concentration in Lifestyle Medicine
- Nutritional Science
- Public Health
- Community Health
Bachelor’s Degrees in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine
For a bachelor’s degree, you can get a Bachelor’s in:
- Public Health
- Environmental Health
- Health Care Administration
Doctoral Degrees in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine
For a doctorate or Ph.D., you can get a Ph.D. in:
- Public Health
- Lifestyle Medicine
- Health Sciences
- Integrative Medicine
Of course, there are more options than those listed, but that should give you a good idea of what your options might be. The name of the program depends on where you go to school and what type of program you are looking for.
Certifications for a Career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine
You would also need to look into being licensed in your state once you get your degree. Each state might have different qualifications. While not all will be required by your state, certifications are a great way to set yourself apart in the job market. Here are three certifications for this field.
This certification is for professionals, physicians, specialists, and intensivists in the field of lifestyle medicine. Certification will indicate that the individual has mastered the science of preventing, treating, and reversing the chronic disease in an evidence-based manner with official acknowledgment from the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine (for physicians and specialists) or the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (for professionals and practitioners)
This agency sets and maintains standards for the assessment and credentialing of physicians and Ph.D./Masters level health professionals in Lifestyle Medicine globally.
- Need to be licensed to practice as a physician, hold a master’s degree or doctorate in a health or allied health discipline, or be certified as a Lifestyle Medicine physician by IBLM
- Proof of required CMEs, credentials, or case studies that are required.
- Take and pass the exam.
With ACE you can choose between two different programs. The Health Coach Study Program is rooted in behavior-change science and the principles of lifestyle medicine that address the core competencies of health coaching. They are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). The other program is the Health Coach Advanced Study Program which is a comprehensive, expert-led program with advanced coaching skills, hands-on training, and practical experience. It is also accredited by NCCA and approved by the National Board for Health Wellness Coaching (NBHWC).
After you graduate and receive your certification, it will be time to start applying for jobs. You will be on your way to a career in Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine.
Hear from an Industry Expert
Industry Pathway: Integrative and Functional Medicine-Lifestyle Medicine
Laura Tanzini, DrPH, LMFT, BCPC, BCIM, NBC-HWC
- Professor of Lifestyle Medicine at John Patrick University
- Specialist in Public Health with a specialization in Lifestyle Medicine and Family Therapy
- Owner/Operator of Kinder in the Keys Treatment Center in Key West, Florida
How do I get into this Industry?
I completed a Doctorate in Public Health with a specialty in Lifestyle Medicine from Loma Linda University. I also have an extensive background in both biology and psychology and use that knowledge to form a healing process wherein physical, emotional, and cognition are used to utilize a more comprehensive approach to treatment. I have worked in both medical hospitals and in mental health institutions and written many scholarly papers on topics ranging from nutrition, stress, menopause, obesity, depression, anxiety, and human development. I also completed additional certifications as a Professional Counselor, Integrative Medicine Clinician, National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coach (NBC-HWC) and a PTSD Clinician.
What Certifications do I need in this industry?
States vary on the scope of services and practices within the field of integrative and functional medicine and lifestyle medicine. It is always best to review the specific state on laws and rules as each state is permitted to interpret and define the scope of services for their residents. It is recommended to earn the following board certifications: ACE Health Coach and Diplomate of Lifestyle Medicine.
What degrees or education pathways should I take?
It would be best to complete a master’s degree in Integrative and Functional Medicine. MS degrees can last from 16 months – 24 months.
Translating my military experience specifically for this industry
Many universities will transfer in previous college credits or military experience to meet the common general education classes.
Entry level/mid-level experience I need for this industry
Experience and college coursework in Anatomy & Physiology, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry and Microbiology are highly recommended to understand the base of integrative health. Completing advanced coursework in Lifestyle Medicine, Nutrition and Health Coaching at a master’s degree or higher is advised as this will allow a deeper understanding of integrative health and wellness.
How do you advance in this industry?
The field of integrative and functional medicine is broad. One can go into private health coaching to working at the state level in public health. It is imperative to earn board certifications as an ACE Health Coach and Diplomate of Lifestyle Medicine to differentiate yourself as a qualified and competent clinician/consultant/coach or educator.
What are they looking for from me to communicate in an interview?
A conferred and accredited advanced degree in integrative health/functional medicine is preferred. This showcases you have advanced your training within the growing field.
Tips and tricks to getting into this industry
The industry is growing and being redefined every day. As more clients and patients are in search of natural healing solutions it would be best to work or shadow Health Coaches, Chiropractors, and Naturopathic Doctors would give a great foundation.
What can I do while still in the service to prepare for this industry once I get out?
If you have the opportunity to take general education science college courses (Anatomy & Physiology, Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry and Microbiology), this will allow you to focus on the core courses in your studies.
What is the work-life balance like in this industry?
Because the industry of integrative health is continuing to grow, one can work fully online, part-time/hybrid or full-time in a clinic or public health setting. The balance can come from only working part-time to being one’s own boss. The best part of this growing field of integrative and functional medicine, you decide what is best for you and your life, career and goals.