This article attempts to describe the current legal and regulatory landscape for the practice of homeopathy in the United States. The implications for those individuals wishing to relocate to the United States is also explored.
- Accreditation: Accreditation in higher education is defined as a collegial process based on self- and peer assessment for public accountability and improvement of academic quality. Peers assess the quality of an institution or academic program and assist the faculty and staff in improvement. Accreditation is an indication of minimum quality of a school. Accreditation in the United States is not compulsory, but is necessary for a school to receive low interest student loans or to be able to provide student visas.
- Certification: Certification denotes minimum competency for an individual homeopathic practitioner. This is determined nationally through a certifying body that tests to this level of competency. Certification does not imply the ability to practice legally.
- Degree: Some homeopathic schools offer a medical degree on graduation. A degree is generally offered at the bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral level (most advanced) of training. Licensing boards often require a degree for licensure.
- Diploma/Certificate: A document certifying that a student has successfully completed a course of study.
- Licensure of Homeopathic Practitioners: Licensure denotes the legal right to practice within a given jurisdiction. Medical licensure in the United States is determined by State.
- Licensure of Schools: Homeopathic schools in some States are required by State law to be licensed before they can train students.
- Unite States Department of Education (USDE): This national governing body oversees education in the United States.
The Homeopathic Community and Profession in the United States
The practice of homeopathy in the United States is diverse. While many practitioners are medically licensed, many are non-licensed. Quality varies greatly from those who take a weekend course and immediately begin practicing, to those who have seriously studied homeopathy for many years and are certified in their practice. Licensure denotes the legal right to practice within a given jurisdiction. Certification denotes the quality of a given homeopathic practitioner as determined by a certifying body. This landscape of licensure and certification is also constantly changing.
Licensure to practice homeopathy is complex and varies depending on the individual’s training and location. There is no national licensure in the United States and licensure is determined by State (50 states). Prospective students should familiarize themselves with the laws in the state in which they wish to practice. The states of Arizona, Connecticut and Nevada are the only other states in the US that license medical doctors (MD) who practice homeopathy, osteopathic doctors who practice homeopathy (DO) and homeopathic medical assistants. Homeopathy can be included in the scope of practice with regulatory Board approval in certain other states.
Thirteen states license naturopathic physicians and homeopathy is included within their scope of practice. This exists in the States of Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Montana, Kansas, Minnesota, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, and Washington DC.
All 50 states license DVM’s, where homeopathy is included within the scope of practice. Forty five states have regulations concerning the practice of Veterinary Technicians including Arizona (Delaware, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Utah and Wyoming are the only states that currently do not). Several states include homeopathy within the scope of practice for chiropractic physicians and acupuncturists.
For Physician’s Assistants (PA’s), homeopathy can be included in the scope of practice so long as it is within the supervising MD’s legal scope, and is approved by the State Regulatory Board.
For acupuncturists, homeopathic medicine is included in scope of practice for Arkansas, New Mexico and Florida.
For Chiropractic Physicians, homeopathic medicine is included within the scope of practice for the State of Florida.
Since 2000, the US states of California, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Idaho, New Mexico and Arizona (modified form) have adopted legislation conferring freedom to practice for anyone who gives full disclosure of their training and background. There is currently an effort to adopt this legislation in other states, as well as to adopt homeopathic licensure in other states.
National certification may be obtained through the Council for Homeopathic Certification (866-242-3399 toll free; www.homeopathicdirectory.com) (for both non-licensed and licensed health professionals), American Board for Homeopathic Therapeutics (434-295-0362; www.homeopathyusa.org/specialty-board.html) (for MD’s and DO’s only), Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (866-652-1590; www.theavh.org) (for DVM’s only) or the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians (503-761-3298; www.hanp.net) (for ND’s only).
Accreditation of homeopathic schools in the United States is currently done through the Council on Homeopathic Education (CHE) (www.chedul.org). The CHE was founded in 1982 as an independent agency to assess homeopathic training programs in the United States and Canada. The Council is comprised of representatives of the founding nationally recognized homeopathic organizations, accredited school designees, and homeopathic education professionals. The CHE is not a USDE recognized accrediting body.
Establishing a Homeopathic Medical School in the United States
The United States has a rich history of homeopathy medical schools. Circa 1900, approximately 25 homeopathic medical schools existed in the United States with many homeopathic hospitals and nursing homes. Following the publication of the Flexner Report, funding for these schools discontinued and they began to close their doors. The last homeopathic medial school closed its doors in the United States in the 1930’s.
Homeopathic education in the United States since that time has been through part time diploma (certificate) programs with an average length of training of 700 hours. Homeopathic schools are accredited through the Council on Homeopathic Education (www.chedu.org).
The homeopathic community in the United States decided to reform a homeopathic medical school, circa 2000. The American Medical College of Homeopathy is opening its doctoral program in February, 2011 (www.AMCofH.org). This is a four-year full-time program. Graduates of this program are slated to be granted the degree Doctor of Homeopathy (DH) and will be licensed in the State of Arizona. The American Medical College of Homeopathy is in the process of pursuing accreditation for its doctoral program.
Implications for Those with a BHMS Wishing to Relocate to the United States
1. The American Medical College of Homeopathy (AMCH) is accepting transfer of students (advanced standing) from other countries for students wishing to relocate to the United States (Arizona) (www.AMCofH.org). DHMS and BHMS degree and diploma holders would be able to place out of the following;
- DHMS: 2 years (must matriculate through the program for two years)
- BHMS: 2 ½ years (must matriculate through the program for 18 months)
2. AMCH would not be able to offer student visas at this time (no other US homeopathic schools are able to offer this either). The Council on Homeopathic Education (CHE) is pursuing United States Department of Education (USDE) recognition and if successful would make accredited institutions eligible for granting of student visas. In practice, this is likely 3 years away at the time of this writing.
3. US homeopathic schools are generally unable to provide housing although they can assist students in finding housing options.
4. Licensure for homeopathic practice for the Doctor of Homeopathy is only slated to occur in Arizona at this time. We plan on gradually expanding this to other states over time.
5. The scope of the DH license currently is limited to the practice of homeopathic medicine only. This does not include surgery or prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs.
6. Those individuals whose English is their second language may be required to take additional English Language Lab coursework.
In conclusion, the US would like to strengthen its ties and collaboration with its homeopathic colleagues from India and Pakistan. Homeopathic education in the United States lags 15-20 years behind that in these countries. However, major new educational initiatives in the United States are helping to professionalize homeopathic education, leading to a lasting legacy for homeopathy’s future.