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Alternative Health Education


Natural Practitioner highlights some of the top institutions providing continuing education and support for the betterment of complementary, alternative and integrative health.

American College of Healthcare Sciences Portland, OR • (503) 244-0726 • www.achs.edu

Founded in New Zealand in 1978 by Dorene Petersen, American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS) launched in the United States in 1989, and is one of the first accredited distance education colleges in the country offering holistic health education.Thirty-five years later, ACHS offers certificate, diploma, and undergraduate and graduate degree programs in all aspects of complementary alternative medicine.

ACHS offers fully online graduate and undergraduate degrees, diplomas, careertraining certificates and continuing education courses in integrative medicine fields such as herbal medicine, aromatherapy, holistic nutrition and wellness coaching.ACHS also offers once-in-a-lifetime study tour adventures to Greece, Indonesia and India each year.

The school is accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC), and is recognized as an industry leader in innovative and affordable online holistic health education. In addition to educational offerings, the institution also features an oncampus and online Apothecary Shoppe (www.apothecary-shoppe.com), which is an Oregon Tilth Certified Organic retailer with a wide range of organic tools and supplies for wellness, including dietary supplements, herbs, essential oils and reference books.

What’s New?

ACHS is committed to the continuous development of cutting-edge, research-based education to meet the growing industry demand for trained holistic health professionals, according to Petersen. “Our expert faculty, advisory council and instructional design teams have developed and launched six new programs in the last year, including the associate of applied science in health and wellness, graduate certificate in wellness coaching and Master of Science degrees in aromatherapy, health and wellness, herbal medicine and holistic nutrition.”

ACHS offers a diverse selection of 12- to 15-credit certificate programs, including the certificate in aromatherapy, certificate in holistic nutrition consulting, master herbalist, and master aromatherapist. Degree programs are also available at the undergraduate and graduate level in the fields of aromatherapy, health and wellness, herbal medicine and holistic nutrition. Programs range in length from 12-credit undergraduate certificates to 36-credit graduate degree programs.


ACHS students are diverse and include: stayat- home parents wanting to improve the health and wellness of their family; active duty service members, military spouses and veterans; and corporate professionals looking for a new career that allows them to help others through health and wellness. A growing population of students come from the traditional, allopathic health care model and are looking for integrative training in aromatherapy, herbal medicine and botanical safety, and holistic nutrition to meet the growing demands of their patients.

“Prospective students can apply online by completing our online intake assessment and application for admission,” noted Petersen. “ACHS admissions advisors counsel students on the best program to meet their goals and to ensure they meet the minimum admissions requirements to be successful.The ACHS Admissions Committee reviews the advisor’s recommendation and the student’s application for final approval.We work with each student as an individual with the student’s success in mind.”


As an online institution, ACHS has the distinct advantage of being able to recruit the best faculty from across the country. “Our expert faculty members have extensive educational backgrounds that meet the teaching requirements for the State of Oregon and the Distance Education and Training Council, which include a PhD in most cases and previous online teaching experience.”

Student Resources

ACHS is committed to student success through graduation and beyond. Alumni services include a free online listing in the ACHS Alumni Practitioner Directory on the ACHS website, a complimentary Alumni Success Coaching Program, networking with national industry organizations (including professional member eligibility and access to practitioner liability insurance) and letters of recommendation.

An ACHS Reflection

Doreen Petersen, ACHS founder and president, said she often hears from graduates how their ACHS studies have impacted their life and those around them. “For instance, Charyn Gant, a 2008 diploma in aromatherapy graduate from Sierra Madre, CA, recently shared this with us: ‘As an alum, I continue to be impressed with the number of courses offered as a part of continuing education. There are so many certificates, diplomas and master’s programs available, especially in areas I would have never considered! With the health care industry in such dire straits and people needing alternative healing options, particularly in the realm of whole person healing, ACHS is really the way to go if your dream vision is to help meet that need. Top notch on-line system, great instructors and excellent materials. Five years later, I still use and refer to my binders for information.'”

Bastyr University Kenmore, WA • (425) 602-3000 • www.bastyr.edu

Bastyr University was founded in 1978 during a difficult political climate for natural medicine. National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM) had closed its Seattle branch, and Washington state legislators were threatening to eliminate naturopathic licensing since no new graduates were applying for licensure.

Now one of the world’s leading academic centers for advancing and integrating knowledge in the natural health arts and sciences, Bastyr University is dedicated to transforming the health and well-being of the human community. “We educate future leaders in the natural health arts and sciences,” said Derek Wing, associate director of media and public relations. “Respecting the healing power of nature and recognizing that body, mind and spirit are intrinsically inseparable, we model an integrated approach to education, research and clinical service.”

Bastyr University prides itself in these themes: academic achievement, research in the natural health arts and sciences, clinical training and community health, and interdisciplinary integration.

New Programs

Since its founding as a naturopathic medical school 35 years ago, Bastyr University has steadily added more programs, becoming the multidisciplinary institution it is today. “We offer degree and certificate programs in naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, nutrition, midwifery, health psychology, herbal sciences, exercise science and integrated human biology,” Wing noted.

In 2012, Bastyr opened a branch campus in San Diego, CA. This historic expansion makes Bastyr University California the first and only accredited school of naturopathic medicine in the state. While the campus currently offers only naturopathic training, additional degree programs will be added over time. The university also opened the doors of a new teaching clinic in San Diego, Bastyr University Clinic.

In short, all types of certifications and programs are offered, with programs varying between two and five years, depending on the degree level:

• Bachelor of Science: exercise science, health psychology, herbal sciences, integrated human biology, nutrition

• Master of Science/Master of Arts: acupuncture and Oriental medicine, ayurvedic science, counseling psychology, midwifery and nutrition

• Doctoral: naturopathic medicine

• Combined Bachelor’s/Master’s Programs: acupuncture and Oriental medicine, midwifery

• Certificate and Other Programs: certificate in Chinese herbal medicine, certificate in holistic landscape design, dietetic internship and a variety of non-degree courses, including childbirth vocational training and continuing education

Standing Out

Bastyr University is the largest accredited institution for natural medicine in the country, using science-based evidence and cutting-edge research as a foundation for its teachings. Additionally, the University’s teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, provides exemplary clinic service to the community, scoring high overall marks on a regional patient satisfaction survey, specifically in the areas of patient communication and personal attention.

The school’s student body is extremely diverse and growing at both campuses. In Seattle, the students are: Average age: 30 Gender: 81 percent female, 19 percent male International: 80, representing 31 counties Enrollment (2012-2013): 1,035


“The faculty at Bastyr is a group of uniquely talented and motivated individuals that serve as a huge inspiration for the student body,” said Wing. “We have doctors and professors striving every day to create an active and interactive learning environment where students can tap into their passions. Our faculty focus on many diverse areas such as physical medicine, nutrition, botanical medicine, basic sciences and mind/body connections, but one thing they all share is a passion for the matter that they teach and the University they represent.”

Bastyr has a rigorous curriculum specifically designed to prepare students for practicing natural medicine, nutrition, acupuncture, etc., after graduation. The classes are difficult but engaging, and led by incredible faculty. Those that have a strong sense of sciences or a passion for what they are learning will thrive here.

Currently the school does not offer online-only degree programs, but will be exploring future options for new offerings at a later time, according to Wing.

Student Resources

Bastyr prides itself in offering a wealth of resources for students, including a host of laboratories, stellar library facilities, an organic medicinal herb garden, whole-food dining commons and a LEED platinum-certified Student Village for on-campus housing.

With strong financial aid and student services departments, Bastyr students receive ample support. Internships, preceptorships and study-away opportunities are available to ensure all students have the chance to gain real-world experience.

National College of Natural Medicine Portland, OR • (503) 552-1555 • www.ncnm.edu

National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) has a rich history, exemplified by NCNM’s Academic Building, the center of the campus, which was built in 1912. The campus offers students the benefits of city living at its most sustainable within an urban setting infused with natural beauty, culture and social conscience, said Marilynn Considine, NCNM’s director of public relations and communications.She added that the school is known for its longstanding legacy of academic excellence: Founded in 1956, NCNM is the oldest naturopathic medical educational institution in North America. Since its founding, the accredited college’s commitment to providing superior education and training in natural medicine has drawn ever-growing numbers of physicians and practitioners.

In addition to NCNM Clinic, the college’s onsite teaching clinic, NCNM provides health care services to patients at an extensive network of community clinics- nearly 20 locations throughout the Portland metro area. NCNM’s clinical operations serve 40,000 annual patient visits.

The research conducted at NCNM’s Helfgott Research Institute aims to advance the art and science of healing by developing a deeper understanding about natural forms of medicine. Helfgott is the recipient of numerous honors, including grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health, Considine said.

The college’s library houses one of the largest and most unusual collections of literature on natural medicine in the world. In addition to its collection of approximately 19,000 books, the library includes the Rare Book Room, with its collection of about 1,500 rare and precious volumes on naturopathic and herbal medicine, many dating to the 17th century. The Rare Book Room also houses papers and books from the library of Dr. Benedict Lüst, the North American “father of naturopathic medicine.” In addition to the new Master of Science in Integrative Medicine Research (MSiMR) and the Master of Science in Nutrition (MScN) degree programs, NCNM offers three other exceptional post-graduate degree programs:

• Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (ND)

• Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM)

• Master of Acupuncture (MAc)

What’s New?

In fall 2012, NCNM’s School of Research & Graduate Studies began offering a new degree, MsiMR. NCNM’s latest new degree offering, a MscN, now open to current students, will also be available to newly enrolled students in fall 2014. The MscN will take full advantage of NCNM’s new Charlee’s Kitchen, a new state-of-the-art teaching kitchen for students, researchers and community classes.

NCNM’s MsiMR program is the only of its kind in the country, noted Considine. “This program, combining the skill foundation of a Master of Public Health and a Master of Clinical Research within the content area of integrative medicine, offers students scientific rigor in the field of natural medicine,” she said, adding that student-designed projects have won recognition and awards at national and international conferences.There are many examples of successful student research projects, and several projects have been published in peerreviewed journals. With these opportunities, students build their scientific expertise, making them more competitive postdoctoral candidates and job applicants.

Helfgott Research Institute hosts an annual research conference, Symposium for Portland Area Research on CAM (SPARC), a collaboration between the leading complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) institutions of the Portland area, including Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Legacy Cancer Healing Center at Good Samaritan Hospital, Oregon Collaborative for Integrative Medicine, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland State University, University of Portland, and University of Western States. Student clinical experiences offer supervised hands-on present with a wide range of physical conditions and chronic illnesses. This training for student interns (and resident physicians) is provided at the campus-based NCNM Clinic and more than a dozen low-cost community clinics in the Portland metro area.


NCNM students come from all parts of the globe, and the average age of NCNM students has decreased in recent years from 33 to 27. The average entering GPA in 2012-13 was 3.35. Admission to NCNM is competitive-it is the college’s goal to admit only the most highly qualified applicants. The admission process is a holistic review that considers all aspects of a potential student’s background and accomplishments. After submitting an application (including the necessary prerequisites), prospective students are invited to an on-campus interview and review process that includes a review committee of admissions counselors and faculty.


The NCNM roster includes some of the most renowned names and educators in natural medicine, such as Martin Milner, ND; Heiner Fruehauf, PhD, Lac, founder of NCNM’s School of Classical Chinese Medicine; Dean of Research & Graduate Studies Heather Zwickey, PhD; and Chief Medical Officer Regina Dehen, ND.

A curriculum redesign process has been underway to better support students and the changing ways in which they learn, Considine said. “While NCNM has explored online learning at length for its post-graduate students, there are no current plans to implement distance learning for students. However, NCNM provides its alumni a robust offering of continuing education (CE) onsite courses, symposia, workshops and more through its CE department, many of which are streamed live and archived and available through NCNM CE Online.”

Student Resources

NCNM’s Office of Student Life offers a comprehensive support system to all of its students, including counseling and disability services, a wide variety of student clubs, student health insurance, a mentor program and a Professional Formation/Career Services Office to help students prepare to launch their careers.

New England School of Homeopathy Amherst, MA • (413) 256-5949 • www.nesh.com

Founded in 1989, New England School of Homeopathy (NESH) offers both ongoing courses in homeopathy as well as shorter classes and guest lectures.”Though our main courses are offered in the U.S., we have also taught ongoing classes overseas in Germany, Switzerland, Italy, etc. Our main instructors are myself and Paul Herscu, ND, DHANP, MPH,” said Amy Rothenberg ND, DHANP.

Adding to the curriculum, the school has begun to offer more audio and video formatting as well as webinars directly from its website, www.nesh.com. “We continue to add to our available written materials and post online, free to access,” said Dr. Rothenberg. “The most popular course is the eight- or 10-weekend class. We provide a certification of attendance.”


Dr. Paul Herscu has been teaching homeopathy since 1986 and is an internationally sought-after public speaker, lecturing extensively in most countries in Europe as well as the United States. A graduate of Portland State University and the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (NCNM), he is board certified in homeopathy and maintains a private practice, Naturopathic Health Care, in Enfield, CT.

A graduate of Antioch College with a degree in biology and the NCNM, Dr. Rothenberg is board certified in homeopathy and maintains a private practice, also at Naturopathic Health Care.

Standing Out

NESH is unique in that it presents the philosophy and application of homeopathy using Cycles and Segments, according to Dr. Rothenberg. “This approach streamlines case-taking and case analysis, and educates practitioners to be able to focus on what is important to pay attention to in both the remedies studied and patients being treated. This approach is relevant for those who have studied for years as well as to newcomers.”

The school’s main instructors have been in practice for more than 27 years each and bring to their teaching insight gained from that experience. “At NESH, we teach in a way that is inclusive and encouraging to our students, bring in patient stories and encourage questions and discussion,” Dr. Rothenberg said.

Students are Mds, Nds, Dos, Dcs, as well as students in those fields, nurses, therapists and other allied health care providers. “We also have dedicated lay people who seek to become professional homeopaths,” said Dr. Rothenberg, who added that the school’s attendance is growing. Individuals are admitted based on prior experience and commitment to the art and science of homeopathy. For those without medical background, anatomy, physiology and pathology coursework is strongly recommended.

NESH offers an introductory webinar online and more long-term courses are offered in person. Between class sessions, lecture materials sent digitally through the Herscu Letter and other reading materials.

Student Resources

“Due to our long history in this field, it is of value to have completed our program,” Rothenberg said. “We do offer an online directory listing for those students who complete our in-depth courses. For those who go on to take our clinical classes, we also offer a listserv to help support practitioners.”

The University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine Tucson, AZ • (520) 626-6417 • www.azcim.org

Founded in 1994 at the University of Arizona College of Medicine by Andrew Weil, MD, The University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AZCIM) is leading the transformation of health care by creating, educating and actively supporting a community that embodies the philosophy and practice of healing-oriented medicine. AZCIM is internationally recognized for its evidence-based clinical practice, innovative educational programs, and research that substantiates the field of integrative medicine and influences public policy. Since its creation, the Center’s vision of making integrative care available to all is being realized worldwide; Center graduates are now guiding more than one million patients to take a greater role in their health and healing.

AZCIM’s flagship programs are the Fellowship in Integrative Medicine and the Integrative Medicine in Residency program, though the school offers educational opportunities for every level of professional throughout their medical career. Aside from innovative educational programs, the Center focuses heavily on research and excellent clinical care. “We recently opened The UA Integrative Health Center in Phoenix, AZ, which is proving a model for integrative primary care, and is the site of an outcomes study that has the potential to fuel the national health care debate,” said Genevieve H. Gutierrez Gil, the school’s marketing manager.

What’s New?

Last year, Esther Sternberg, MD, world-renowned for her discoveries in the science of mind-body interactions, joined AZCIM as director of research. She relocated to Tucson with her research team and program from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, MD, to establish a collaborative, multi-disciplinary translational research program that will explore the science of the mind-body connection from varying perspectives. She is leading AZCIM research efforts and establishing the UA Institute on Place and Well-being, a multidisciplinary unit that will focus on space and healing.

The school added the first national online pediatric integrative medicine (PIM) curriculum, designed to embed PIM education into residency training. “The program is the first of its kind in pediatrics and will allow pediatric residents to learn integrative approaches along with their conventional medical training,” said Hilary Mcclafferty, MD, FAAP, director of the Pediatric Integrative Medicine in Residency (PIMR) and assistant fellowship director at AZCIM. The pilot program rollout of PIMR includes nearly 350 pediatric residents and faculty at Stanford University, University of Chicago, University of Kansas, Eastern Virginia Medical School Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, as well as at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson.

In addition, AZCIM launched its lifestyle transformation program series, including health coaching certification, open to a broad range of health professionals with the goal of training comprehensive integrative teams. The new programs, Integrative Health and Lifestyle (I Help) and integrative Health Coaching, open study to a much larger group, including nurses, dietitians, therapists and others previously ineligible to study in other AZCIM offerings historically geared toward physicians.

Standing Out

According to Gil, what makes the school unique is its founder, Dr. Andrew Weil. “He is recognized as a pioneer of integrative medicine and established our Center at the University of Arizona in the infancy of the field. Also, our distance learning Fellowship in Integrative Medicine is the largest of its kind, and has graduated many clinicians now considered to be leaders in the field.”


Most of AZCIM’s programs accept students through online applications. “Our attendance is growing, and in the last few years, we’ve added a second new Fellowship class each year, a number of new educational programs like PIMR and Lifestyle Transformation (health coaching), our annual Nutrition & Health Conference has doubled in size, and we’ve just established a robust research department, headed by a renowned mind-body researcher, Esther Sternberg, MD,” Gil added.

“Our programs are primarily distance learning, designed to work well with the schedules of practicing clinicians and health professionals,” she noted. “They can study when and where it is convenient for them, and come to Tucson for retreats where they learn things that can’t be learned online, interact with faculty, and focus on teambuilding with their cohort.”

Student Resources

For students nearing graduation, the school offers business modules, a job board and, more importantly, a strong, engaged alumni group that goes above and beyond to help their fellow AZCIM graduates.