Nearly forty percent of adults in the US report using complementary and alternative medicine. The integration of alternative and mainstream health care systems, disciplines and modalities is fast becoming a part of the health care delivery system in the United States. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) is the Federal Government’s lead agency for scientific research on complementary and alternative medicine.
Correspondingly, there is a growing interest in pursuing complementary and alternative medicine degree programs, that give you the opportunity to explore the history, practice, and delivery of alternative health systems. This page tells uo more about the programs, where they can be found, and more …
What is studied in an alternative medicine degree?
Clearly there are many alternative medicine approaches – the NCCAM classifies them as: Whole medical systems; Mind-body medicine; Biologically based practices; Manipulative and body-based practices; and, Energy medicine. Degree programs will vary according to which they emphasize. Programs may include such topics as: an examination of the spirituality and non-Western systems of integrated and holistic health, differences between holistic and conventional health approaches, disease management from a multicultural perspective, Chinese medicine, Ayurveda, acupuncture, hypnosis, reiki, meditation, prayer.
The U.S. Department of Education has authorized the Council on Chiropractic Education to accredit chiropractic colleges and the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to accredit acupuncture programs. Requirements for licensure vary by type of complementary health approach and by state. For some complementary approaches, some states require licensure while others don’t. For example, in many states acupuncturists who do not have a doctor of medicine (M.D.) degree must be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to get licensed. Some of the other professional organizations involved in certification include the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork, the Council for Homeopathic Certification, the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners (NBCE), and the North American Board of Naturopathic Examiners. For other complementary approaches, there are no formal requirements for practice. For more information, see the NCCAM fact sheet Credentialing: Understanding the Education, Training, Regulation, and Licensing of Complementary Health Practitioners.
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- BA in Complementary and Alternative Health
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