What is a Bachelors in Medical Specialties Online?

Healing people isn't a job solely performed by doctors or hospitals. Medical specialties is sub-field of medicine that continues to carve out a niche in the world of medicine. The term is just one of many that describes alternative and complementary medical therapies, which may include everything from massage to acupuncture to herbal remedies. Whether you're looking to start a career in alternative medicine or supplement your studies in mainstream healing practices, you may want to consider earning a bachelors in medical specialties online.

What is a degree in medical specialties?
Alternative medicine is a broad field, and cannot necessarily be categorized as one single type of approach. As the Mayo Clinic explains, there are multiple forms of complementary and alternative medicine, with different focuses and principles.[i] For example, naturopathy involves noninvasive treatments, such as exercise, lifestyle counseling and herbal remedies to treat people in a holistic fashion. Mind-body medicine utilizes relaxation, meditation and art therapies to create a greater sense of well-being. There are also biologically-based practices, which use natural supplements as a means of treating conditions.

A bachelors in medical specialties online may focus on any one of these sub-fields of alternative medicine, including respiratory therapy, nutrition, homeopathy or ancient medicinal practices. It may prepare students to pursue licensure as a massage therapist or a dietitian nutritionist. It may also serve as a good foundation for further education, specifically, a naturopathic doctorate, which may lead to other positions in the field of alternative medicine.

Medical specialties jobs available
A bachelor's degree in alternative medicine may lead to a variety of entry-level positions, though many of them require plenty of on-the-job experience and training, especially if you're considering work as a homeopathic practitioner. The degree may also introduce you to other careers, including that of massage therapist, recreational therapist or dietitian.

Massage therapists are one of the more visible practitioners in the field of medical specialties. They use massage, stretching and relaxation techniques to improve the well-being of their clients. To become one, massage therapists must generally complete 500 or more hours of study and experience, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.[ii] A bachelor's degree in medical specialties may establish the groundwork for becoming licensed.

Recreational therapist may be another position worth considering. The job entails creating therapeutic programs for patients, whether they're recovering from illness or coping with depression, stress and anxiety. A medical specialties approach can play a big role in the work of recreational therapists.

Dieticians and nutritionists provide counsel to people with dietary concerns. They may promote better diet and help to create meal plans for clients. Generally, dietitians and nutritionists hold a bachelor's degree in dietetics, food and nutrition or a related field, and must additionally undergo several hours of supervised training, according to the BLS.[iii]

Potential salaries for medical specialties jobs
The annual median wages for these positions may vary depending on the type of medicine you choose to study and the demand for business in your area. However, the BLS has information concerning those wages and the expected job growth for certain careers.

  • Massage therapist: $35,970[iv] (23 percent employment growth expected through 2022)[iv]
  • Dietitian or nutritionist: $55,240[v] (21 percent employment growth expected through 2022)[v] 
  • Recreational therapist: $42,280[vi] (13 percent employment growth expected through 2022)[vi]

Skills required in medical specialties
There may be different skill expectations, depending on the field of medical specialties you choose to enter. Massage therapists will need physical stamina, strength and dexterity, according to the BLS, in addition to communication and decision-making skills.[ii] Dietitians and nutritionists, meanwhile, will rely on their analytical abilities to provide the most up-to-date and applicable nutrition advice for their clients.[iii] Recreational therapists may need patience, critical-thinking skills and a sense of compassion to do their job.[iv]

[i] mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/consumer-health/in-depth/alternative-medicine/art-20045267
[ii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-4
[iii] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm#tab-4
[iv] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/massage-therapists.htm#tab-1
[v] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/dietitians-and-nutritionists.htm#tab-1
[vi] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/recreational-therapists.htm#tab-1