Homeopathic Education, Schools, and Career Overview
Homeopathic doctors use a holistic approach towards patient care. Instead of isolating specific symptoms and treating them individually, homeopathy training encourages doctors to spend extensive time with patients and prescribe only one remedy to treat the entire body depending on a patient's genetic background, current health condition, lifestyle activities, body type, eating habits, emotional stability, psychological tendencies, sleep patterns and mental indicators. The history of homeopathy can be traced back to the 18th-century findings of German physician Samuel Christian Hahnemann, whose "principle of similars" and "principle of dilutions" are the theories on which modern homeopathy schools base their training.
Homeopaths use specially prepared remedies derived from natural materials. These medicines are regulated in much the same way as over-the-counter drugs, unless they claim to treat serious diseases, like terminal illnesses. The two major agencies that currently regulate homeopathy standards in the United States are the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia of the United States (HPUS).
How to Become a Homeopath
The North American Network of Homeopathic Educators suggests that all homeopaths acquire training in three major aspects:
- Health sciences, including studies in common medical treatments and side effects, anatomy, signs and symptoms of disease, pathology, and physiology
- Homeopathic training in non-conventional facets like materia medica, philosophy, and analysis and therapeutics along with practical homeopathic training in clinical case work and management
- Practitioner development, such as learning about the importance of listening and perception skills, effective client assessment and interaction, legal and ethical aspects of homeopathy, professional roles and boundaries, client and business management techniques, and new developments in research
Homeopathic programs often require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree in a liberal arts or life science major. Prior to entering a homeopathy training program, students are advised to complete courses like:
- Biomedical ethics
- Public health
- Philosophy of science
Although most homeopaths eventually earn a degree in homeopathy, there are non-degree programs that allow students to acquire the clinical and didactic hours needed to qualify for national certification as a certified classical homeopath (CCH). Homeopathic programs may result in awards such as:
- Diploma in Homeotherapeutics
- Diploma in Homeopathy
- Doctor of Homeopathic Medicine Degree
- Homeopathic Practitioner Certificate
Homeopathy programs usually begin with a general introduction into the field of homeopathy, the history of homeopathic medicine, homeopathic practices and principles. From there, homeopathy programs usually delve into the different types of remedies, preparation techniques, recognizing symptoms, and homeopathic law and ethics. Next, students learn how to evaluate, analyze, and manage individual case studies.
Coursework can come in a variety of different forms such as classroom instruction, directed readings, independent study projects, case study research, community service, lectures, online activities, discussions, tutorials, and videos. Typical homeopathy courses can include:
- Pediatric Homeopathy
- Miasmas and Chronic Diseases
- Homeopathic First Aid and Acute Prescribing
- Principles of Research Design
- Comparing Conventional and Alternative Medicine
- Remedy Groupings
- Natural History
After students spend the majority of the program learning homeopathic theory, most schools then provide an applied clinical training component. Clinical training is often considered just as important as academic coursework because it is designed to prepare students to effectively interact with patients in a professional environment. Mentorships, internships, observation of live cases, and volunteering positions are all customary ways that homeopathic medicine schools provide clinical training to students.
Homeopathic schools and programs in the United States offer various levels (beginner, advanced, professional) of homeopathic education and training. They can be found in places like natural health institutes, homeopathic colleges, college-prep schools, career academies, private universities, research institutes, homeopathy centers, online schools and medical colleges.
Although not all states in the country have on-site homeopathic education and training programs available to local students, online and distance learning programs in homeopathy are widely available. This option can be ideal for students who can only complete education through the convenience of home due to conflicting work schedules, geographic location, family obligations and transportation issues. Online students can select a program that best suits their professional interests, financial situations and time constraints. Both full-time and part-time options are available. Although online homeopathy courses are a great way for students to learn the academic aspects of homeopathy, some of these programs do not include clinical training with the required curriculum. In these situations, students are advised to seek homeopathic practical training through outside training providers like alternative and complementary medicine centers.
Homeopathy students typically choose from two different kinds of online and distance learning homeopathy programs:
- Those that award graduates with diplomas, certificates, and degrees in homeopathy
- Those that only award documented education and training hours in homeopathy
The latter often, but not always, strives to qualify students for national certification by the Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC).
Homeopathic Certification and Licensure
Homeopaths are not typically required to become licensed or registered, but many choose to become certified because it is a way of establishing and conveying a level of professional aptitude. Although voluntary, certification is quickly becoming an occupational standard that most patients, consumers, and employers look for when choosing a homeopath. Homeopaths who earn certification are also added to a national directory — a listing that patients can refer to when selecting a practitioner, and which can help homeopaths to attract business and build clientele. In addition, certification qualifies homeopaths to become eligible for memberships into professional associations like the North American Society of Homeopaths.
The Council for Homeopathic Certification (CHC) is one the primary general certification agencies for homeopaths in the United States. Many homeopaths decide to get certified through the CHC because unlike other certification agencies, the CHC does not require candidates to be licensed or registered medical physicians. There are a few ways that homeopaths can qualify for CHC examination that results in homeopathic certification:
- Formal education: Students must complete at least 500 hours of formal education in classical homeopathy through academics, seminars and conferences in addition to 390 hours of clinical education in case observation, case analysis and full case supervision.
- Apprenticeship: Homeopaths and students must show that the apprenticeship was conducted by a mentor that has been certified in classical homeopathy and whose practice is in general health care consisting of at least 750 patient visits annually. Apprentices are required to complete at least 2,000 hours of contact training with a mentor over a three- to six-year period.
- Professional practice: Homeopaths can qualify by engaging in professional practice through a partnered practice. The applicant must hold a homeopathy job for a minimum of four years with at least 500 patient visits during each of these years.
- The CHC point systems: Those who have completed a combination of formal education, clinical work, professional training and apprenticeship experience may be able to qualify for certification by accruing at least forty points within the application point systems.
Homeopaths interested in becoming certified should contact each individual agency and inquire about specific eligibility requirements, examination schedules, application processes, certification fees and continuing education obligations, as these factors may vary between agencies.
As of yet, the field of homeopathy is not held to federal licensing standards. This is partially because most homeopathic remedies contain little to no active ingredients. If a remedy does contain an active ingredient, this ingredient is always a natural ingredient that is considered safe in small amounts. The only states that currently offer professional licenses for homeopathic physicians are Nevada, Arizona and Connecticut. These states only allow medical doctors and doctors of osteopathy to obtain licenses as homeopathic physicians. Admittedly, most homeopathic practitioners are also licensed medical professionals (nurses, therapists, physicians), but they don't necessarily have to be. It is the responsibility of consumers, patients, and clients of homeopaths to conduct individual research regarding a homeopath's education and level of training.
All certified homeopathic professionals must complete a specific number of hours in homeopathic education on an annual or tri-annual basis depending on which agency granted certification.
- The Council for Homeopathic Certification requires the fulfillment of twenty continuing education units (CEUs) each year.
- The American Board of Homeotherapeutics, which administers medical and osteopathic physicians with a diplomat specialty certification, must earn thirty hours of continuing education credits every three years.
- The Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians offers specialty certification for naturopathic physicians and follows the CHC guidelines regarding continuing education requirements.
There are numerous ways that homeopaths can acquire continuing education credits. The CHC suggests the following activities:
- Attendance at homeopathic conferences and seminars
- Post-graduate homeopathic training
- Providing homeopathic education
- Giving professional presentations
- Acting as a supervisor or mentor to homeopathic students
- Writing a published review for a homeopathic book
- Writing a published article for a professional journal
- Writing a published homeopathic book or manual
- Conducting homeopathic research
Career Outlook and Salary Information
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics doesn't specifically track salary and job growth information for homeopaths, the category below is most closely aligned with homeopathic occupations.
|Career||Annual Mean Wage||Bottom 10% Annual Wage||Top 10% Annual Wage|
|Acupuncturists and Healthcare Diagnosing or Treating Practitioners, All Other||$89,060||$42,120||$148,950|
|Acupuncturists and Healthcare Diagnosing or Treating Practitioners, All Other||36,500|
As is the case with other healthcare fields, homeopaths may be able to increase their current salary earnings by earning nationally recognized homeopathic certification — something that can help to attract more clientele and make practitioners more attractive to potential employers. Another way to boost salary expectations is by continuing to show commitment to homeopathic education by earning a degree in homeopathic medicine through an accredited post-secondary program. Likewise, homeopaths who gain advanced training in conventional medicine widen their scope of practice and increase their ability to work in both traditional and alternative medical and health care settings which can positively impact salaries and wages.
The Council for Homeopathic Education (CHE) was established in 1991 in an effort to create educational standards for professionals practicing homeopathy throughout North America and to accredit homeopathy schools that instruct in homeopathy. The CHE has developed a list of competencies believed necessary to accurately prescribe homeopathic remedies and evaluate the consequent reactions of those remedies. All homeopathic professionals should be knowledgeable in the following areas:
- History of healing
- Homeopathic philosophy
- Principals of homeopathy
- Homeopathic solution provings
- Material medica
- Case taking
- Case analysis
- Case management
Other resources for information on homeopathic education and training include the National Center for Homeopathy (NCO) and the North American Network of Homeopathic Educators (NANHE). These organizations provide directories of homeopathic education and training programs and courses across the country. They also announce current conferences, seminars, study groups, discussion forums, and continuing education activities. Some of these organizations also offer provide educational materials like books, audio tapes, software, professional kits, products, research information, and videos pertaining to homeopathy.