Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in integrative medicine are rare to begin with, and they're seldom offered in an online format. Even in online programs, in-person residency periods are required. This article looks at the University of Arizona's online fellowship program in detail.
To become a physician, one must earn a Medical Doctor (M.D.) or Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.) degree from an accredited U.S. medical school, then earn professional licensure. The specific requirements for licensure vary by state, so check for state-specific requirements before choosing an educational program.
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University of Arizona's Integrative Medicine Fellowship
This fellowship program is designed specifically for working professionals, such as nurses, physicians or physician's assistants. The program is designed to advance students' knowledge of natural medicine and the integration of natural disease prevention with Western medicine principles of diagnosis and treatment. Students learn about the importance of exercise, nutrition, herbal medicine and relaxation in the prevention of health problems.
The program features an integrative perspective on pediatrics, cancer treatments, cardiovascular health, respiratory health and alternative treatment methods like Ayurveda and homeopathy. In addition, the integration of mind and body is taught through methods like meditation.
Information and Requirements
The University of Arizona offers one of the only online integrative medicine programs available in the country. There are other schools, such as the University of Wisconsin - Madison that partner with the University of Arizona. This program can be completed in around two years. Students must attend a week-long residency program three times during the program. Students are taught through podcasts and online video lectures. Communication is possible to instructors through e-mail.
Students must have a computer with access to the Internet. It is helpful to have an updated Web browser and operating system.
Nutrition and Cardiovascular Health
This course focuses on lifestyle and diet as a viable prevention of heart disease. Students gain an understanding of different patients' health needs and how to adapt a specific nutritional plan to prevent and reverse cardiovascular damage. Cardiovascular health problems include high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, hyperlipidemia and the metabolic syndrome.
Students learn about the historical significance and philosophy of Ayurvedic medicine in relation to its country of origin, India, and the United States. The course also covers the effectiveness and assessment of treatments using Ayurvedic principles.
The mental health course focuses on the diagnosis and alternative medical treatments of mood disorders. The course emphasizes depression and anxiety and students are expected to be able to design an appropriate integrative treatment plan.
Career Information for Graduates
The degree program is intended for working professionals who want to maintain their respective practice and use the acquired knowledge to care for patients from a more holistic approach. A nutritionist is a relevant career choice, but traditionally only requires a bachelor's degree.
According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of all physicians and surgeons (not including naturopathic physicians) is expected to grow by 14%, faster than the average for all occupations, between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS projected job growth of 17% for health diagnosing and treating practitioners during the same decade, and nutritionists and dietitians could also expect above-average job growth of 16%. Students who have completed the integrative medicine fellowship can act as specialist physicians and treat prospective patients accordingly, provided they have already met all the requirements for working as licensed physicians.
Professionals working in the medical field, such as nurses, physicians or physician's assistants, may pursue the education needed to further advance their careers through a hybrid integrative medicine program, like the one offered at the University of Arizona.