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 Complementary & Alternative Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

Integrative medicine combines a variety of medical disciplines, with training usually provided after the practitioner is licensed as a registered nurse or doctor. Then there are several disciplines that can be added to the practitioner's skill set to advance their career in integrative medicine.

Degrees Undergraduate majors in healthcare related fields; graduate programs
Programs Traditional Chinese medicine; acupuncture; Ayurvedic medicine; Western medicine; naturopathic medicine
Licensure Some states require acupuncturists and Chinese herbal medicine practitioners to be licensed; all states require registered nurses to be licensed; medical doctors and osteopaths are required to be licensed in all states; 20 U.S. states/territories license naturopathic practitioners

Which Degrees Can I Earn?

Integrative medicine incorporates a wide range of health care 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.

Which Graduate Programs Are Available?

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. A Master of Acupuncture Studies Degree program might be offered. You might also find a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine degree program. The following schools offer integrative medicine degree programs:

  • Bastyr University (Multiple locations)
  • Won Institute (Glenside, PA)
  • Maryland University of Integrative Health (Laurel)
  • Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)
  • National University of Health Sciences (Multiple locations)
  • Maharishi University of Management (Fairfield, IA)
  • Florida College of Integrative Medicine (Orlando, FL)

Which Courses Will I Take?

An integrative medicine program may provide coursework in various aspects of holistic treatment along with coursework in the physical sciences. Holistic pharmacology and the toxicological properties of plants may be featured in an integrative medicine program, such as a naturopathic medicine program. You could also study some of the following courses:

  • Nutrition
  • Effects of diet on health and wellness
  • Issues of agricultural sustainability
  • Herbal medicine
  • Integrative pathophysiology

Which Other Courses Can I Take?

Traditional Chinese medicine programs focusing on herbal medicine, bodywork or acupuncture may introduce you to the foundations of treatment practices. Students in acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs typically take courses in Western biomedicine. These particular areas of interest may be considered:

  • Meridians
  • Point locations
  • Strategies to correct imbalances
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Medical terminology
  • Mental health
  • Diagnostic testing
  • Various body systems

Which Certifications and Licensure Will I Need?

State licensure requirements vary depending upon your area of specialty. Many states require licensure for professional acupuncturists, and five 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, 20 states observe licensure practices that include the successful completion of the Naturopathic Physician Licensing Examination (NPLEX).

What Else Do I Need to Know?

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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