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Guide to studying Complementary Medicine

Complementary Medicine is a fascinating and fulfilling area. Read on to see why it could be the subject for you.

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  1. What's Complementary Medicine?

  2. Why study Complementary Medicine?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Complementary Medicine graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Complementary Medicine?

Complementary Medicine is when alternative medicine is used alongside conventional medical treatment, in a belief that it 'complements' the treatment. 

When used at the same time, complementary methods can work well in conjunction with scientific methods to increase their effectiveness. 

Similar courses for Complementary Medicine include: 

  • Complementary Medicines, Therapies & Wellbeing 

Why study Complementary Medicine?

You’ll develop the skills needed to review and critique the evidence relating to contemporary issues in your relevant field. In seminars, presentations and workshops, you'll make professional-standard findings.

The demand for particularly-skilled individuals in GP practices, health centres, hospitals and even leisure centres, is growing. Graduates may continue in private practices or progress to PhD study, or find employment in academia or research. Many graduates have built their own businesses.

Study Complementary Medicine and you'll learn invaluable skills including analytical, IT, interpersonal and report writing. These can easily be applied to other disciplines. 

There’s many different topics that can be studied as part of your degree. From anatomy to pathophysiology, a large variety of areas is available to scrutinise and specialise in. 

Complementary Medicine has one of the highest figures on our table of graduate earnings. Similar to Medicine, graduates from this subject area who work hard can expect a good starting salary.

What jobs can you get as a Complementary Medicine graduate?

This is a very niche degree, and so has a job market almost all to itself. There's a need for those who not only have alternative educational backgrounds but also creative and scientific skills.

Particular job areas include in medical research, teaching, life coaching, management, journalism, holistic healthcare and the service industry.

Several professional organisations offer specialised positions for Complementary Medicine graduates, such as the NHS.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Complementary Medicine have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Complementary Medicine students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need? 

Previous practical experience is often preferred to grades, as there is no clear pathway from school to university in this subject area. However, often an A Level in Biology or a science-related subject is useful.

Grades and requirements vary between institutions. Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university/course you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

  • BSc Acupuncture
  • MSc Professional Practice in Clinical Sciences
  • MSc Chinese Herbal Medicine
  • MChiro Chiropractic Medicine

How will you be assessed?

Written assignments form the majority of assessed work within modules, including case studies that demonstrate clinical skills. Some modules are assessed via exams.

Depending on your university, you may prepare oral and poster presentations, either alone or in groups. Tutors also observe your clinical practice.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include MSc Acupuncture, Orthopaedics, Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation, Paediatrics, Ayurvedic Herbal Remedies, Chinese Medicine, Human Osteoarchaeology and Non-Medical Prescribing.

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