Alternative Medical Support Services
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Alternative Medical Support Services Overview

Alternative and complementary medical support services can include midwifery or doctor of alternative medicine - also referred to as a naturopath. While non-traditional, each career is growing in popularity.

You may wonder what the difference between a nurse midwife and direct-entry midwife is. Direct-entry midwives become midwives without first getting a nursing degree. At a minimum, direct entry midwives must attend school to get a midwifery certificate as well as apprentice with a full-time midwife to get on the job training. Depending on state law, midwives may be required to get a related degree in nursing or natural medicine.

Most direct-entry midwives practice directly with clients and perform birth services in the client's home or in their private practice. Nurse-midwives have a nursing degree with a specialization in midwifery and tend to practice in hospitals.

Naturopathic doctors look at non-traditional ways to treat their patients. They may rely on holistic medicine, herbs, traditional Chinese medicine and homeopathy to treat their patients. For example, a patient exhibiting symptoms of thyroid issues may be treated by a naturopath with a combination of lifestyle changes and natural medicines.

Students looking to enter the alternative medicine field have several options from bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. If you wish to practice as a naturopathic doctor you will need much of the same education a medical doctor will need, but with special emphasis on alternative medicines.

Required Skills

Both midwives and naturopaths require a similar set of skills. You must excel at working with people. You must also be able to make decisions under pressure and be able to problem solve. In both cases, people's lives are literally in your hands - you must be able to work well under stressful conditions and must have empathy for the people you work with.


On average, midwives earn just under $49,000 per year while naturopathic doctors average just over $74,000. The career outlook for both positions is good as demand for alternative medicine and birth options are growing. According to the US Department of Labor, demand for both naturopathic doctors and midwives will grow 10-14% over the next ten years.

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