Ph.D. candidates studying Oriental medicine will receive advanced training to prepare students to treat a wide spectrum of conditions. Students are exposed to medical treatments and conditions through multi-disciplinary research and mentorship in a variety of fields. In addition to core clinical requirements, each candidate works under a personalized clinical training plan that is designed to suit the student’s skills and future plans. The PhD program in Oriental medicine is structured into two areas of focus: clinical and didactic.
Didactic modules are designed to advance diagnostic and treatment skills while also expanding students’ understanding of the theoretical and philosophical foundations of Oriental medicine. Some PhD programs in Oriental medicine offer advanced curricula for specializations in fields such as stroke rehabilitation, reproductive medicine, oncology, cardiology, immunology, orthopedics and sports medicine. Students will also study Chinese classics, professional development, and system based acupuncture.
About Online PhD Programs in Oriental Medicine
Currently there are no fully online PhD programs in Oriental medicine. However, this may soon change as colleges begin offering more courses and programs online. For students who require the flexibility offered by distance learning, Saybrook University offers a PhD in Mind-Body Medicine with classes in traditional Chinese medicine. The courses listed below are offered by the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.
- Wen Bing This course introduces the school of Wen Bing (Warm Disease) with an emphasis on epidemics. The use of relevant herb remedies are taught in this class.
- Nei Jing . This course introduces the Huang Di (Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine) through both didactic teaching and discussion of the ancient text. Students will learn to explore the clinical context of the book and how it is relevant to modern Oriental medicine.
- Grand Rounds 1 & 2. Students discuss cases under the supervision of clinic supervisors of biomedical and Oriental medical fields.
- Nan JingThis course examines the Nan Jin (Difficult Classic) with an emphasis in pulse diagnosis. The impact of seasons on the health is also examined.
- Shang Han Lun. This course explores the Shag Han Lun (Cold Damage), a text written around 200 B.C. This classic is a major foundation of modern Chinese herbal theory and practice.
- Preventative Medicine: The study of preventative medicine is studied from two aspects: clinical preventative medicine and epidemiological preventative medicine. Diet, exercise, and supplementations of various measures are studied in this class.
Ph.D. students are required to complete a dissertation project as approved by the Doctoral Committee. The dissertation should provide evidence of significant research and scholarly analysis as well as the ability to present findings and conclusions with precision and clarity. Students must provide a written copy to the committee before defending it in an oral presentation.
Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Oriental Medicine
The entry-level standard for professional practice in Oriental medicine is a master’s degree. Those who would like to extend their knowledge or further their skills through research and clinical training can do so by pursuing a PhD in Oriental medicine. An advanced degree prepares students to treat a number of different ailments using a variety of techniques. However, earning a Ph.D. also offers students the opportunity to further research a specialization as well.
Earning a Ph.D. requires an enormous investment of time and money. For practicing acupuncturists, obtaining a Ph.D. may not be economically viable, especially if the individual has no other source of income during his course of study. However, the longer an acupuncturist is in practice, the higher his estimated salary is. Once an acupuncturist is established, he or she may have the means to pursue an advanced degree. A more practical course may be to achieve the master’s and doctoral degrees during the same course of study.
Application & Admission Requirements
The requirements for entering a PhD program in Oriental medicine vary between programs. Generally, the candidate must have a Master’s degree in Oriental medicine or five years of clinical experience. In addition to an extensive background in Oriental medicine, candidates must also exemplify proficiency in written and spoken English and the self-motivation and skill to conduct extensive research. Some programs also require candidates to meet benchmarks for previous academic performance.
Career Options & Job Market
A career in Oriental medicine can be rewarding on many different levels. Practitioners have the flexibility to work independently or with another medical professional and are also allowed to set their own schedules. The approach of Acupuncture and Oriental medicine is holistic, placing emphasis on building relationships with patients in order to evaluate emotional and physical factors when treating and diagnosing ailments. According to ExploreHealthCareers.com, salaries are reported at between $30,000 and $150,000 with an excellent projected growth in the field.
Where to Find Information
- Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: The council is a voluntary program committed to advancing excellence in the AOM field. Check this site for a list of colleges working with the CCAOM.
- American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: The AAAOM is a national membership organization for AOM practitioners and supporters. Students and professionals can network through AAAOM for support, information, and news related to AOM.
- National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: The NCCAOM is dedicated to promoting its nationally accredited certification programs and certified practitioners. Visit the site to learn how you can become certified after earning your degree.
How to Get Funding
After being accepted into a program, students should contact the financial aid officer of the AOM program in which he or she is enrolled. Students who are participating in a program accredited by the ACAOM may be eligible for federal student aid programs. There are also scholarships for AOM students, such as the Trudy McAlister Fund Scholarship. Check with the financial aid coordinator at your school to find out if there are any scholarship opportunities offered by the school or through a national database.
- Federal Direct Stafford Loan:This unsubsidized loan program offers students low-interest loans while pursuing graduate studies. The maximum loan available is $12,000 per academic year, and there is a fixed interest rate of 6.80%.
- Federal Perkins Loan. The Federal Perkins Loan is awarded based on financial need with a fixed interest rate of 5.0%. Students receive an average of $3,500 per year.
- Campus-Based Aid. Scholarships and other financial aid offered through the federal government are generally managed by a school’s financial aid office. Check with your school’s financial aid advisor to see programs for which you may qualify.
- Familiarize yourself with different accreditation organizations in the AOM field. Make sure that the program you choose is well reputed and supported by a national or regional accreditation service. It is also helpful to research certification requirements, if you haven’t done so already, in order to ensure that you meet the necessary requirements upon graduation.
- Consulting with a professor or current Ph.D. student will prepare students for the expectations and routines associated with earning a Ph.D. Connecting with potential mentors could also give you an advantage during your period of study. While researching programs of interest, write down questions you would like to ask your program advisor or a future professor.
- Potential candidates of a PhD program in Oriental medicine should research the opportunities for specialized practice in his or her region. The biggest benefit of continuing your study in the field is to expand your range of treatments as well as to focus on a specific area of treatment, such as sports medicine. Understanding what patients need in your area will help to expand your practice.
- Pursuing an advanced degree in any subject is an expensive endeavor. Before committing to a Ph.D. program, it is a good idea to research funding options through scholarship, grant and loan opportunities. Once you’ve been accepted into a program, you may have the option to defer your studies until your finances are aligned.