Integrative Medicine Degree Programs and Universities

The practice of integrative medicine combines what's known as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with traditional Western medicine. If you are interested in how herbs and acupuncture help patients overcome pain and illness, or the relationship between the mind and body in terms of health and wellness, you may wish to study integrative medicine. Read on for education and career information in this field. Schools offering Nutrition & Diet Therapy degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Degrees Can I Earn?

Integrative medicine incorporates a wide range of healthcare practices, including traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), acupuncture and Ayurvedic medicine, with traditional Western (allopathic) medicine. At the undergraduate level, you might find a program that specifically prepares you for further integrative medicine studies, or you might major in a more generally healthcare-related subject, such as biology.

If you hold a degree in nursing or professional licensure as a traditional healthcare practitioner, you might choose to pursue a graduate certificate in integrative medicine to add to your existing skills and knowledge. Graduate-level programs might train you to study and evaluate integrative medicine practices, as well as to practice them.

What Type of Courses Will I Take?

An integrative medicine program may provide coursework in various aspects of holistic treatment along with coursework in the physical sciences. You may study nutrition and the effects of diet on health and wellness. You may study issues concerning agricultural sustainability along with herbal medicine and integrative pathophysiology. Holistic pharmacology and the toxicological properties of plants may also be featured in an integrative medicine program, such as a naturopathic medicine program.

Traditional Chinese medicine programs focusing on herbal medicine, body work or acupuncture may introduce you to the foundations of treatment practices. In an acupuncture program, you may develop an understanding of meridians, point locations and strategies to correct imbalances. Students in acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs typically take courses in Western biomedicine, such as anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, mental health, diagnostic testing and various body systems.

What Certifications and Licensure Will I Need?

State licensure requirements vary depending upon your area of specialty. Many states require licensure for professional acupuncturists, and six states allow common licensure for the practice of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. After you complete an accredited degree program, you will be eligible to gain certification through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). For naturopathic doctors, 15 states observe licensure practices that include the successful completion of the Naturopathic Physician Licensing Examination (NPLEX).

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses (RNs) are required to have about three years of education through a bachelor's degree, associate's degree or diploma program and must pass a national licensure exam (www.bls.gov). Nurses interested in practicing integrative medicine may choose to pursue holistic nursing, a nursing specialty recognized by the American Nurses Association. After completing an undergraduate education, medical school and a residency or internship, allopathic physicians must pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination. Osteopathic physicians have similar educational requirements, and must pass the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Exam. Physicians interested in integrative medicine can pursue voluntary board certification through organizations such as the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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