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Integrative Medicine Certification and Licensure

Since integral medicine involves complimentary and alternative modalities of bodywork as well as the practice of conventional western medicine, there may be questions about the necessary licensure required to establish an integrative medical practice. Here we answer your questions about the required licensure and national certification options for an integrative medical practice:

What license or certification do doctors need to practice integrative medicine?

Those interested in how to become a doctor of integrative medicine should note that since this type of medical practice is in fact the integration of conventional and natural medicine that simply incorporates one or more chosen alternative modalities of healing bodywork, there is no certification specific to the practice of integrative medicine itself. An integrative medical practice that incorporates bodywork is very accessible to those who have earned doctorate level degrees. An M.D. (Medical Doctor), N.D. (Naturopathic Doctor), or D.O. (Doctor of Osteopathy) needs no additional license or certification to perform bodywork. They are able to perform specialized forms of healing bodywork on their existing medical licenses.

What licensure or certification is needed to practice bodywork independent of a medical license?

A license to practice bodywork is granted upon completion of an accredited bodywork program, which includes a number of hours spent in clinical practice, and the successful completion of an exam that tests related knowledge and applied skills. Because this test and the subsequent licensure is administered and granted on a state level, it isn’t transferrable to other states. Only a few states have continuing education requirements to maintain state licensure, and these requirements are typically minimal. In most cases submitting an online application for re-licensure and paying a fee that rarely exceeds $200, are the only state-mandated requirements for renewing a bodywork license.

Is there a state transferable national certification for bodywork?

An organization called the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) provides national certification that satisfies the requirements for licensure enforced by most states. The NCBTMB administers an exam called the National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCETMB). Completing a program through an accredited school and successfully completing the NCETMB exam will earn graduates the NCTMB credential, which stands for Nationally Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork. NCTMB certification must be renewed every four years, but it isn’t particularly difficult to meet the requirements for doing so. Massage therapists who wish to retain the NCTMB credential are expected to complete 200 hours of therapeutic massage or continuing education within this four-year period.

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