Online Alternative Medicine Schools
A number of alternative healing practices, some rivaling or complementing traditional medicine, have become popular. Chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy and naturopathy are examples of alternative healthcare methods. Read on to learn about online alternative medicine schools and how to choose one that will work for you.
Programs in alternative medicine are designed to prepare students for positions working directly with patients. Many of these programs are doctorate degrees, and students often have some prior training or education in the healthcare field.
Are There Online Alternative Medicine Schools?
Because the physicality of all alternative medicine professions demands in-person instruction, no online programs are accredited in these fields. Such programs do exist, but are questionable in their quality of instruction. The Oregon Student Assistance Commission Office of Degree Authorization presents a usable and informative guideline on the difference between and value of accredited and non-accredited schools (www.osac.state.or.us).
Useful information, such as admission requirements, degrees offered, completion times, and course descriptions, can be found on school websites. It's also worth checking the accreditation status of potential schools offering programs in the area of alternative medicine.
How Do I Choose a Naturopathy School?
The Association of Accredited Naturopathic Medical Colleges (AANMC) presents a list of accredited schools that offer programs leading to the Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) degree; only five accredited schools exist in the United States and only two in Canada. Naturopathy takes a holistic approach to healing. It can encompass a number of alternative medicine techniques, including chiropractic, acupuncture and massage, as well as some elements of traditional or allopathic medicine (www.aanmc.org). Licensure is required in order to practice. Graduates are eligible to sit for the Naturopathic Physicians Licensing Examination.
How Do I Choose a Massage Therapy School?
The Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) offers a list of all schools in the United States and Canada that have met the organization's Standards of Accreditation. Massage therapists use touch and manipulation of soft-tissue muscles to treat a variety of maladies. They may specialize in a specific modality, such as deep-tissue massage, reflexology or neuromuscular massage. Most states require licensure which can be obtained by passing either the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork or the Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination. Because regulations vary from state to state, you should consult the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards (www.fsmtb.org) or the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (www.ncbtmb.org) for state-specific requirements.
How Do I Choose an Acupuncture School?
The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers a list of nationally accredited schools that specialize in acupuncture and oriental medicine (www.acaom.org). Programs can vary in length, depending on specialty and degree level. Oriental medicine is based on the idea that there are internal, interconnected meridians or pathways throughout the human body. Energy flows along these paths. Pain or discomfort results when the energy flow is disrupted. The standard test for licensure, which is required in order to practice in all states, is the examination administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
How Do I Choose a Chiropractic School?
The Council on Chiropractic Education provides a database of schools that offer accredited programs that lead to the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) degree (www.cce-usa.org). Some schools offer postdoctoral programs in areas like orthopedics, sports injuries, pediatrics, rehabilitation and neurology. The basic chiropractic tenet is that misalignments of spinal joints interfere with the nervous system. This interference can result in an increased susceptibility to disease and debilitating health conditions. Among other things, chiropractors rely on manipulation, diet, exercise, rest and the body's natural ability to recuperate. All states require chiropractors to be licensed. For the most part, they rely on the examination administered by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners. However, most states also have their own individual requirements. You can find out about chiropractic licensure in your state by contacting the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards (www.fclb.org).
What Schools Offer Alternative Health Programs?
Most accredited naturopathy programs come in the form of doctorate degrees. These programs require existing post-secondary education in medicine or health sciences.
- Bastyr University offers a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
- National University of Health Sciences offers a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine
- University of Bridgeport offers an N.D. program
Vocational massage therapy programs are available in durations of 1 or 2 years from a number of accredited schools.
- Allegany College of Maryland offers a fully accredited massage program
- Academy of Natural Therapy offers 750 hour and 1,000 hour massage therapy certificate programs
- Cortiva Institute offers 32 week or 52 week professional massage therapy programs
Acupuncture programs are available at the master's and doctorate levels. These programs may require a base education in medicine or health science.
- National University of Health Sciences offers a Master of Science in Acupuncture
- Acupuncture and Integrative Medicine College offers a master's in acupuncture
- American Academy of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers a Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine as well as master's degree in the same field.
Programs in chiropractic medicine are offered by accredited institutes that specialize in this field.
- National University of Health Sciences offers a Doctor of Chiropractic degree
- Logan University offers a Doctor of Chiropractic degree
- Palmer College of Chiropractic offers an A.A.S. in Chiropractic Technology
Students hoping to become doctors and practitioners of alternative medicine usually need to pass a licensing exam after completing their education. It is recommended that students train at a fully accredited school, most of which offer coursework in a strictly in-person format.