PhD in Holistic Health and Medicine

Learn about doctoral programs that offer training in holistic medicine, including use of natural remedies, herbs, acupuncture and other forms of natural healing. While Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in holistic health and medicine are generally not available, you can find related programs. Keep reading for more information, including common prerequisites, career options and licensing requirements. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Doctoral Degrees Can I Earn in Holistic Health and Medicine?

If you're looking for Ph.D. programs in holistic health and medicine, there are two closely related degrees you can pursue. First, there's the Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND), which typically requires four years to complete. This type of program will prepare you for a career as a holistic care physician, in which you focus on treating the whole patient and addressing the causes of illnesses and maladies. As stipulated by the Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC), you'll only find campus-based accredited ND programs, since online programs do not provide adequate training for licensure (www.aanmc.org).

Another option is to earn a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM), which typically takes two years to complete. If you're already a licensed acupuncturist, this program can help you advance your understanding of the practice as well as the broader field of Chinese medicine. These degrees are not widely available and can also only be found in campus-based programs.

Are There Any Prerequisites?

You'll need a bachelor's degree before applying to an ND program. While majoring in a science field is often helpful, it may not be required. However, you'll typically be required to complete prerequisite coursework that is heavily science-based, including biology, chemistry, physics, calculus and psychology. Additional courses in anatomy, biochemistry and botany are helpful. It also helps to have work or volunteer experience in a health care setting in addition to basic knowledge of natural medicine.

DAOM programs require you to possess a master's degree in either acupuncture or Oriental medicine. Your transcripts must be from a school that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). You'll also need to be currently licensed as an acupuncturist or in the process of obtaining a license. Most programs prefer that you currently practice acupuncture and, in some cases, you'll need a minimum number of years of professional experience before applying.

What Will My Studies Include?

In an ND program, you'll learn about holistic medicine as it applies to a wide spectrum of ailments and illnesses affecting all age groups. This will include the philosophies and theories that shape holistic medicine. You'll learn how to diagnose and treat diseases using tools such as herbs, homeopathic medicine and manual therapy. You'll also study modern medicine, including biochemistry, pathology and microbiology. In addition to your lecture and laboratory-based coursework, you'll complete clinical training under the supervision of a licensed holistic physician.

A DAOM degree can help you further develop your practice, become a leader in the Oriental medicine community or pursue research and teaching positions. You'll study advanced clinical practices - such as pain management techniques and alternative cancer therapies - as well as research and teaching methods. You may also have the opportunity to study in China, the birthplace of acupuncture.

What Licensure is Required?

In 15 states and Washington D.C., you can earn a license as a naturopathic doctor. Though requirements vary by state, you commonly must complete an accredited ND program covering both naturopathic theory and modern medical science. You must also pass the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Exam (NPLEX), which tests your knowledge of general science, diagnostic technique and clinical competency.

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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