Integrative Medicine Fellowship: What It Is and How to Apply

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 14, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many professionals pursue fellowship programs to expand their technical knowledge in a specific field of study. Pursuing a fellowship in integrative medicine can help you learn more about traditional and complementary medical therapies to help improve your effectiveness as a health care provider. Learning more about this program, including how to apply, can help you determine if this program is right for you and your professional goals.

In this article, we explore what a fellowship in integrative medicine is and discuss its benefits, application steps and tips to pursue this fellowship program.

Related: Fellowship vs. Internship: Definitions and Key Differences

What is integrative medicine?

Integrative medicine involves an approach to patient health and wellness that combines traditional Western medicine practices with complementary holistic therapies. Conventional medical practices include medications, surgical procedures and lifestyle changes that help promote a patient's wellness. Complementary medicine might include chiropractic therapy, yoga, meditation and acupuncture. Medical professionals often use integrative medicine to treat or manage:

  • Chronic pain

  • Headaches and migraines

  • Joint or muscle pain

  • Mental health disorders

  • Cancer

  • Diabetes

Related: 10 Degrees in Functional Medicine (With Benefits)

What is a fellowship in integrative medicine?

A fellowship in integrative medicine is a classroom and hands-on approach to teaching physician graduates about integrative medicine therapies. The fellowship is a 1,000-hour program that helps you learn about integrative medicine techniques and how to apply them to different patient situations. There are several topics discussed during this fellowship program, which include:

  • Business of integrative medicine: This section discusses the purpose and use of integrative medicine. This can help you understand the benefits of using this type of medical approach versus only using traditional medicine therapies to promote patient wellness.

  • Visionary medicine and spirituality: The hours dedicated to discussing visionary medicine and spirituality expand on how they can promote whole-body wellness. This portion also might discuss plant medicine, psychedelics and psychiatry as they relate to patient wellness.

  • Botanicals and supplements: The academic hours taken to review botanicals and supplements can help you better understand how these two innovative approaches can help enhance patient health. This portion might also discuss how botanicals and supplements can help boost patient vitamin and mineral levels.

  • Self-care techniques: The hours dedicated to this section commonly discuss self-techniques and how to help others care for themselves physically, mentally and spiritually. This portion often supports topics discussed during mind-body therapies coursework that focuses on how mental and emotional health can affect physical health.

  • Nutrition: Nutrition is an essential portion of an integrative medicine fellowship because it discusses the correlation between nutrition and patient health. This can also help you learn how nutrition can support traditional treatment methods to manage patient diseases such as diabetes.

  • Traditional medical systems: This section reviews traditional medical systems. You will learn more about how physicians can use traditional and complementary medical therapies together to promote patient health and wellness.

How long does it take to complete an integrative medicine fellowship?

How long it takes to complete this program varies since much of the fellowship is self-paced and virtual. Many who complete this fellowship program actively work as physicians or other medical professionals as they complete their fellowship outside of working hours. The program's design lets you complete this program within a two-year window. Each week often requires 10 hours of classroom and study participation with three separate residential weeks to apply the skills learned during the program.

Education requirements for integrative medicine fellowship

Education requirements can vary based on your profession in the medical field. Many fellowships require candidates to have an advanced degree, such as a master's degree or doctorate, since this program often discusses technical medical topics. Some programs may require that you have completed a residency in integrative medicine or in a related field such as internal medicine, psychology or oncology.

How to apply for an integrative medicine fellowship

While application and approval processes may vary by school and state, there are many similarities in application steps and eligibility requirements. Researching each program can help you understand how to apply for different integrative medicine fellowship programs. Here are some steps to help you apply for an integrative medicine fellowship: 

1. Meet eligibility requirements

Eligibility requirements often vary between programs. Many require that you are an active medical professional with a current medical license and either have board certification or be board-eligible in their medical specialty. Medical professionals who can apply to an integrative medicine fellowship program include:

  • Physicians

  • Pharmacy doctors

  • Advanced practice registered nurses

  • Physician assistants

  • Dentists

2. Create an application account

Many programs have online forms so you can virtually submit your fellowship application. They also can also help you track the status of your application. Common information requested when creating your account includes:

  • Full name

  • Mailing address

  • Medical practice type

  • Credentials

3. Submit your application

Your application helps universities better understand your qualifications, skills and motivation for seeking an integrative medicine fellowship. This allows you to explain why you are the right fit for the program and distinguish yourself and your skills from other fellowship candidates. Some information requested in the application includes undergraduate education information, post-graduate training, the medical exams you've taken and licensure details. They also sometimes request your professional reference contact details.

Related: 25 Fellowship Application Resume Objective Examples

4. Include additional documentation

You will be asked to provide supporting documents in your application. The documents can help universities better understand you and your qualifications. They also provide insight into why you want to pursue a fellowship in integrative medicine, what motivated you to pursue this specialty and your goals for the fellowship. Common additional documents requested include:

  • Reference letters

  • Personal statement

  • Current curriculum vitae

  • Medical school transcripts

  • Copy of current medical license

Related: How To Write a Fellowship Letter of Recommendation in 6 Steps

5. Pay associated fees

Each program has different fees and fee schedules that you should research so you can budget for this expense. You can often pay these fees online via credit card, in-person or through the mail. Once you've paid all fees, the university can process your application.

6. Receive fellowship notification

Once faculty members review your application, they notify you of their approval via email that often includes details about your acceptance, fellowship program and class assignments. Class assignments often provide a detailed overview of your unit schedule and projected graduation information, which can help you plan your professional and personal obligations.

Benefits of a fellowship in integrative medicine

There are many benefits to completing a fellowship in integrative medicine as a medical provider, including:

  • New developments in the industry: A fellowship program can help you learn about updated findings and how they may influence your careers in medicine.

  • Expanded knowledge of specializations: A fellowship in integrative medicine can help you expand your knowledge of specific medical conditions and become a leader in your field.

  • Improved patient care: Interacting with other medical professionals can help your improve their patient care techniques and provide patients with a positive experience.

  • Renewed passion: Many physicians choose to pursue medicine because they have a passion to help others. Attending a fellowship to learn new techniques and developments in the industry can help medical professionals renew their passion.

  • Networking with professionals: A fellowship provides you with opportunities to network with other health care professionals. Fellowship alumni networks can provide you with resources to access later to improve patient care.

  • Assistance with difficult topics: The integrative medicine fellowship puts you in touch with other professionals so you can share how techniques work and any implementation challenges.. Direct feedback can be beneficial in learning how to properly implement integrative medicine into practice.

Related: What Is a Medical Degree? 5 Degree Examples and 5 Jobs To Consider

Tips for securing a fellowship in integrative medicine

Here are a few tips to help you apply for a fellowship in integrative medicine:

  • Give people time to complete letters of recommendation: Letters of recommendation are an important component of a fellowship application. Many programs require letters from esteemed professionals, such as medical school lecturers, meaning it's important to give them plenty of time to write your letter.

  • Consider your career goals: Considering your career goals in medicine and how a fellowship in integrative medicine can help you achieve them can be beneficial when writing a cover letter. This can also help you prepare for your interview, which is likely to include questions on why you chose to pursue a fellowship in integrative medicine.

  • Research certification requirements: A fellowship in integrative medicine can result in a certification that can assist you when seeking employment. Research the requirements of a fellowship before choosing one to ensure it fits with your current schedule and abilities.

  • Review the fellowship's curriculum: You can learn about the classes and seminars in a fellowship by reviewing its curriculum. Consider what lessons the fellowship includes and how they align with your career goals.

  • Request your medical transcripts early: Submitting medical school transcripts is often a requirement when applying to fellowships. Consider requesting a copy of your transcript early, as it can take time to process them.

  • Prepare for your interview: The interview is an important element of most integrative medicine fellowship application processes. Try to prepare for your interview, including developing answers to some of the most common questions you're likely to receive, before your interview date.

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