Florida has many schools that offer training in natural health disciplines, including acupuncture, Oriental medicine, massage therapy, chiropractic and osteopathy. Each of these disciplines employs therapies intended to help the body heal itself, including massage and manipulation, use of botanicals and herbs, acupuncture and homeopathy.
While there are about 90 Florida schools that offer various programs in natural health-related techniques, the majority of these are for-profit schools. This article discusses 10 of the largest not-for-profit schools in the state offering natural health programs.
Academy for Five Element Acupuncture
The Academy for Five Element Acupuncture is located in Gainesville. The Academy offers a unique program that permits students to participate in teaching intensives that are 14-18 days long during the first two years of the program. Between the intensives, students complete homework and fulfill prerequisite course requirements in their home states. The prerequisite courses are offered at the school, but students must pay additional tuition for them. Out-of-state students will have to relocate to the campus for the last year of the program to complete the program and participate in clinical internships.
The school offers two programs. The Master of Acupuncture degree program is 36 months long, and the advanced certificate program in Chinese herbal studies is 27 months long. Students may take both programs and complete them in 36 months to be awarded the Master of Acupuncture with a certificate in Chinese herbal studies.
Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine
At the Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine, located in Fort Lauderdale, students interact with patients the first year, learning firsthand about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture. First-year classes cover theories and concepts of meridians, collaterals and points combined with Western anatomy and physiology. During the second year, students learn needling techniques, herbology, Western pathology and Western medical terminology. During the third year, students attend advanced courses and clinical internships in a variety of medical specialties, applying what they've learned about acupuncture and TCM. Upon program completion, the student is awarded both a Bachelor of Health and Sciences and a Master of Oriental Medicine.
With campuses in Boca Raton, Orlando and Sarasota, Everglades University offers a bachelor's degree program in alternative medicine. This program is offered as a fully online program in addition to being provided at the three campuses. The alternative medicine program includes general education courses as well as required courses in anatomy, nutrition, physiology and chiropractic care. Alternative medicine courses include 60 credit hours covering herbs, Traditional Chinese Medicine, naturopathy, acupuncture and homeopathy. This program is designed to enhance the existing practice of professionals in health-related fields, such as nursing, massage therapy and medical assisting, and provides new students with a solid alternative medicine background.
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine is a Pennsylvania-based college with a campus in Bradenton, Florida. The four-year doctoral program in osteopathic medicine covers basic science and organ systems as part of the student's pre-clinical training for the first two years. The last two years provide clinical training and required competency-based clinical rotations. The school has a state-of-the-art, multi-purpose lab for anatomy and basic science experience, as well as an osteopathic lab containing manipulative tables where students gain hands-on experience in osteopathic techniques. Applicants to this program must already have a bachelor's degree and meet prerequisite course requirements.
Lively Technical Center
Lively Technical Center in Tallahassee provides a 750-hour massage therapy career program. Massage therapy is only offered as a full-time enrollment program, and the program includes courses in hydrotherapy, anatomy, physiology and the practice of massage. Students also learn leadership and human relation skills. The training includes classroom instruction, hands-on demonstrations and practice.
Manatee Technical Institute
Manatee Technical Institute is located in Bradenton. This school offers a 7.5-month massage therapy certificate program that covers kinesiology, hydrotherapy and adjunctive modalities in addition to the theory and practice of massage. The program also requires 60 hours of a supervised clinical internship in the school's clinic that serves the public.
National University of Health Sciences
National University of Health Sciences is an Illinois-based private, not-for-profit college that has a campus in St. Petersburg, Florida. Its Doctor of Chiropractic program covers natural health treatments, including adjustments, physical rehabilitation therapy, nutrition and lifestyle counseling along with nutritional or herbal supplements. The Florida campus offers a state-of-the-art anatomy lab and student-intern access to a health center serving the public. Students learn basic sciences related to medicine and clinical science, and they perform clinical rotations in clinics in the St. Petersburg area or Illinois.
Nova Southeastern University
Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale offers a doctoral degree program in osteopathic medicine that takes four years to complete. The school also offers a dual-admission program to qualified high school graduates, allowing them to obtain a bachelor's degree in biology from Nova Southeastern and a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree in seven or eight years, depending on the applicant's ACT/SAT scores and grade point average. In addition to typical medical school courses in the sciences, pharmacology, anatomy and physiology, osteopathic medicine students are taught osteopathic medicine, alternative medicine and holistic modalities as part of the degree program.
Orange Technical College- Westside Tech Campus
Winter Garden is the home of Westside Tech, which offers a massage therapy program that can be completed in less than one year of full-time attendance. The program covers anatomy and physiology, hydrotherapy, chair massage and spa treatments, as well as theory and practice of massage. Westside Tech also offers online options for its massage therapy program.
Pensacola State College
Located in Pensacola, this massage therapy program teaches students how to treat headaches as well as pain and dysfunction in the joints, back and ligaments. The curriculum also covers infant massage, energy therapy, deep tissue techniques and Shiatsu. Students also receive specific training in sports injuries and massage interventions while learning medical terminology, documentation, anatomy and physiology. The program also highlights spa therapy training and hydrotherapy. This is a 25-credit-hour program that confers a vocational certificate in massage therapy. It is offered as an eight-month, full-time day program or a 12-month evening program.
In Florida, some fields of natural medicine are regulated and require licensure. For instance, practitioners of acupuncture and Oriental medicine need to be licensed. The state requires 60 credits from an accredited, postsecondary institution as a prerequisite to enrolling in an authorized, four-year course of study in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. After completing the four-year program, applicants must pass the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCOAM) examination. The acupuncture schools described in this article all prepare students to sit for the NCCOAM and Florida licensure exams. Oriental medicine practice is included as part of a practitioner's acupuncture licensure in Florida.
Doctors of osteopathic medicine must also be licensed to practice in Florida. To obtain a license, an applicant must complete an approved Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine program from an accredited school that provides a minimum of 12 months of rotating internships. Applicants must also pass the three-part National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners exam within five years of applying.
Chiropractic physicians must be licensed in Florida as well. License requirements include having a bachelor's degree and completing a chiropractic program at an approved, accredited school of chiropractic medicine. The applicant must also receive a passing grade on the four required parts of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners certification exam in addition to the physiotherapy exam of the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.
Florida also requires massage therapists to be licensed. Applicants for licensure must pass a criminal background check, complete an approved course in massage therapy and pass an approved certification examination in therapeutic massage. The massage therapy schools described here are all approved by the state of Florida, and graduates are qualified to sit for the required licensing examinations.
School Comparison: At a Glance
|School Name||School Type and Setting||Natural Health Degrees Offered||Tuition & Fees (2018-2019)|
|Academy for Five Element Acupuncture||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city|| Chinese Herbal Studies Certificate,
Master of Acupuncture,
Master of Acupuncture with Chinese Herbal Studies Certificate
|Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city||Dual Bachelor of Health Sciences and Master of Oriental Medicine||$17,595 (graduate)*|
|Everglades University||4-year, private not-for-profit; small city (Boca Raton), large suburb (Orlando), fringe rural (Sarasota)||Bachelor of Science in Alternative Medicine||$17,600 (undergraduate)*|
|Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine||4-year, private not-for-profit; midsize city||Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine||$12,806 (graduate)*|
|Lively Technical Center||Less than 2-year, public; midsize city||Massage Therapy Certificate||$3,374 (program cost)**|
|Manatee Technical Institute||2-year, public; large suburb||Massage Therapy Certificate||$3,508 (program cost)**|
|National University of Health Sciences||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb||Doctor of Chiropractic||$20,575 (graduate)*|
|Nova Southeastern University||4-year, private not-for-profit; large suburb||Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine||$20,620 (graduate)*|
|Orange Technical College - Westside Tech Campus||2-year, public; large suburb||Technical Certificate in Massage Therapy||$3,653 (undergraduate)*|
|Pensacola State College||4-year, public; small city||Vocational Certificate in Massage Therapy||$2,704 (in-state undergraduate); $10,875 (out-of-state undergraduate)*|
Sources: *NCES, **School's Website