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Study Complementary Medicine, why & how to study

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. What Complementary Medicine degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Complementary Medicine degree?

  4. What topics does a Complementary Medicine degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Complementary Medicine?

  7. What do Complementary Medicine graduates earn?

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

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Complementary Medicine

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Complementary Medicine?

Complementary Medicine is when alternative medicine is used alongside conventional mainstream medical treatment as a complementary treatment.

Complementary and alternative medicines include a range of treatments such as herbal medicine and homeopathy, acupuncture, reflexology and hypnosis. At degree level, courses mainly focus on manipulation therapies like osteopathy and chiropractic.

What Complementary Medicine degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Complementary Medicine include:

  • Chiropractic (Extended Degree) MChiro
  • Chiropractic MSci
  • Herbal Medicinal Science (Top-Up) BSc
  • Osteopathy MOst

Providers may offer a foundation year or integrated master’s. Professional practice is an essential part of courses.

What do you need to get onto a Complementary Medicine degree?

Entry requirements will depend on the university, typically ranging from 112–128 UCAS tariff points. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: ABB–BCC
  • Scottish Highers: BBCCC
  • International Baccalaureate: 32–28
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied: biology or human biology at A Level (or equivalent)

Good subjects to have studied include:

  • Chemistry, psychology, physics, maths, PE or a sport A Level with a high scientific content
  • General studies A Level may be excluded from offers

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Work experience or shadowing related occupations such as an osteopath or chiropractor, and/or experience of receiving a treatment yourself
  • Volunteering in a healthcare setting to build and evidence your interpersonal skills
  • Furthering your knowledge through books or the websites of professional bodies such as the Institute of Osteopathy or the British Chiropractic Association

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science taken at A Level
  • Interview
  • Disclosure and Barring Services (DBS) checks (PVG scheme in Scotland) will be required because you may be working with children or vulnerable adults

What topics does a Complementary Medicine degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in osteopathy or chiropractic medicine include:

  • Introduction to osteopathic concepts and principles
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Clinical biomechanics and imaging
  • Pathophysiology and therapeutics
  • Manual handling
  • Developing business management skills
  • Chronic pain management
  • Autonomous osteopathic practice
  • Clinical imaging
  • Clinical anatomy
  • Neuroanatomy and clinical neurology
  • Public health for chiropractors
  • Clinical physiology for chiropractic practice
  • Evidence-based concepts for contemporary chiropractic practice
  • Functional movement and exercise in chiropractic practice

How will you be assessed?

Courses are assessed in a variety of ways, depending on the module:

  • Case studies
  • Exams
  • Observed clinical practice
  • Oral and poster presentations
  • Written assignments

Why study Complementary Medicine?

A Complementary Medicine degree in osteopathy or chiropractic could see you learning about areas from anatomy to pathophysiology. You’ll be able to review and critique the evidence relating to contemporary issues in your field, and will gain a range of skills:

Career-specific skills:

  • Skills and competences required as a registered osteopath or chiropractic
  • Knowledge of human physiology, anatomy and systems and their abnormalities
  • Skills in the physical treatment and rehabilitation of patients with musculoskeletal disorders
  • Understanding of evidence-based practice

Transferable skills:

  • Business and management skills
  • Communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Problem solving
  • Reflective and analytical reasoning
  • Research

Professional accreditation:

  • Degrees in osteopathy must approved by the General Osteopathic Council (GOC), graduates will be able to register with the GOC and work as an osteopath in the UK
  • Degrees in chiropractic must be approved by the General Chiropractic Council (GCC) and may also be accredited by the European Council on Chiropractic Education (ECCE), enabling graduates to register with these bodies to practise in the UK and Europe

What do Complementary Medicine graduates earn?

Complementary Medicine graduates may start their careers with a salary of £20,000–£27,000.

An osteopath can practice within the NHS or in a private clinic. In the NHS, a musculoskeletal clinician could earn £25,500–£55,000 depending on their seniority and leadership role. In private practice, an average income for osteopaths is around £45,000.

Most chiropractors work privately, although some do provide services via the NHS. Incomes will depend on your business acument and whether you are able to grow your reputation and clientele.

What jobs can you get as a Complementary Medicine graduate?

A degree in Complementary Medicine is highly vocational, usually leading to work directly in the field you qualify in. However, your transferable skills could lead to work in a range of other careers:

  • Animal osteopath
  • Chiropractor
  • Health journalist
  • Lecturer
  • Life coach
  • Musculoskeletal (MSK) first contact practitioner in the NHS
  • Osteopath
  • Researcher

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Postgraduate study offers the opportunity for specialism in areas such as sports or paediatric treatment. Examples of taught master’s and research degrees at postgraduate level include:

  • Advanced Professional Practice Clinical Sciences MSc
  • Advanced Professional Practice Paediatric Musculoskeletal Health MSc
  • Chiropractic MSc

Similar subjects to Complementary Medicine

Other subject areas that might appeal to you include:

Have any questions?

Ask our experts! You can email with your question about studying Complementary Medicine – we’ll be happy to hear from you.

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