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Alternative Medicine: How to Become an Ayurveda Practitioner

Learn how you can become an Ayurveda practitioner. Explore the step-by-step process needed to start a career as an Ayurveda practitioner, including educational options and licensing requirements. View article »

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  • 0:37 Career Information
  • 1:21 Bachelor's Degree
  • 2:12 Professional Program
  • 2:36 Licensing
  • 3:01 Ayurveda Program
  • 3:47 Continuing Education

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Video Transcript

Ayurveda Practitioners

Ayurveda is an alternative medical system used to balance the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of individuals. It originated in India. Ayurveda practitioners diagnose people through visual and tactile observations and analysis of patients' medical histories and lifestyles. Ayurvedic remedies include herbal supplements and oils, massage and yoga. In addition, patients may be asked to change dietary habits or lifestyle choices. These practitioners may need to work weekends and nights in order to meet the scheduling needs of their patients.

Career Information

Degree Level Short-term training program; some practitioners also hold professional degrees
Degree Fields Ayurveda; individuals with professional degrees may study medicine, naturopathy, Chinese medicine and acupuncture, homeopathy or related fields
Licensure None required to practice; medical professionals must be licensed
Key Skills Clinical observation skills; visual, tactile and olfactory acuity; knowledge of Sanskrit
Salary $85,120 (2015 average for health diagnosing and treating practitioners)

Sources: International Society for Ayurveda and Health, Medical specialty degree programs, California College of Ayurveda, Naturalhealers.com

Ayurveda practitioners should be insightful and have good clinical observation skills. A knowledge of Sanskrit may also be helpful. Short-term training programs are available. Some practitioners also hold professional degrees in Chinese, naturopathic or traditional medicine, acupuncture or homeopathy. While a license isn't required in order to practice Ayurveda, medical professionals must be licensed. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) doesn't provide salary figures specific to Ayurveda practitioners, in May 2015, it did report that health diagnosing and treating practitioners that didn't fall under other occupational categories earned an average annual salary of $85,120.

Step 1: Bachelor's Degree

While Ayurvedic practitioners don't need to be licensed medical professionals, many of them have prior medical training. Aspiring practitioners who plan to pursue professional medical training must first complete an undergraduate program. A specific type of bachelor's degree isn't necessary for admission to medical school. However, most medical programs have admission prerequisites, including lecture and lab-based classes in human anatomy, biology, chemistry and physics.

Choose a Medical Specialty

Some Ayurveda practitioners specialize in osteopathy, naturopathy or Chinese medicine and acupuncture. Medical disciplines that focus on holistic healing techniques may be more compatible with Ayurveda. However, practitioners in any medical field can apply Ayurvedic techniques when diagnosing and treating patients.

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Step 2: Professional Program

After earning a bachelor's degree, students may pursue professional training in the medical specialty of their choice. Possibilities include Doctor of Medicine (MD), Doctor of Chiropractic (DC), Doctor of Naturopathy (ND) and acupuncture programs, among others. Regardless of the medical discipline chosen, all of these programs incorporate lecture-based courses and extensive clinical practice.

Step 3: Licensing

Doctors, nurses, acupuncturists, chiropractors and other medical practitioners must all be licensed to work within the U.S. Each medical practitioner license has different eligibility requirements, but most require completion of an approved degree program and a minimum amount of clinical experience with patients. After meeting eligibility requirements, most medical practitioners must pass one or more exams according to their specialty.

Step 4: Ayurveda Program

In Ayurveda training programs, students learn about doshas, yoga techniques, herbal therapies and healthy dietary practices. Clinical internships are often required. Schools may offer basic and advanced program levels, and each level can take 3-6 months to complete. In some cases, students may need to take a college-level anatomy and physiology course prior to enrollment.

Enroll in an Approved Program

Students should look for programs that are approved by the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA). Approved programs cover core Ayurveda topics. They also include clinical experiences and direct contact with an instructor. In addition, approved programs are provided by legally operating schools.

Step 5: Continuing Education

For Ayurveda practitioners who are also licensed medical professionals, participation in continuing education coursework on a regular basis is required. Completion of some Ayurveda training programs may count toward continuing education requirements.

Join NAMA as a Practitioner

Students who complete a 500-hour NAMA-approved Ayurveda program qualify for practitioner membership. Practitioners are listed in the organization's online referral directory and have access to practitioner-only events. In some cases, graduates of non-approved programs may also qualify for practitioner membership if their programs meet NAMA's standards.

Let's review. Ayurveda practitioners take into consideration the physical, mental and spiritual aspects of individuals and use alternative treatments such as herbal supplements and oils, massage and yoga to heal patients. Practitioners who are also medical professionals must go to medical school and qualify for a license.

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