Healthcare Professionals in the United States
The increase in the rate at which Americans use alternative healthcare practices from nontraditional practitioners is increasing (National Health Statistics, 2008). This calls for a need to examine the education, accreditation, licensure and practice of the alternative healthcare practitioners such as acupuncturists and massage therapists. This is because despite claims that alternative therapy works, there is no clear understanding of how the practitioners are educated or licensed.
Alternative therapy practitioners are in most cases educated with certificates, diplomas and licenses being the key credentials they hold. Although the national government does not have a system for their accreditation, different professional bodies are authorized to accredit different professionals in alternative therapy. Similarly, the credential statuses of these professionals vary from state to state as well as across different professions (Lester, 2010). While the accreditation by various professional bodies does not go beyond training and education of alternative healthcare practitioners.
The licensing needs for the alternative healthcare professionals in the country varies from state to state since the federal government does not have programs for licensing such professionals. Consequently, states have their own regulations for licensing and practice of alternative healthcare providers. However, all states require membership to professional organizations which are mandated to offer accreditation. In addition to this, some states require the professionals to sit for written exams for their evaluation prior to licensing while others require both written and a practical examination prior to licensing.
Despite the accreditation and licensing of alternative healthcare practitioners, issues such as insurance still come about since most people make own payments for these services. Insurance companies are only beginning to offer covers for alternative medicines. The relationships between these practitioners and other healthcare professionals is also growing into complimentary interactions, and the entire healthcare system in the United States currently recognizes the alternative healthcare professionals as instrumental in healthcare provision.
Lester, M. (2010). Credentialing CAM Providers: Understanding CAM Education, Training, Regulation and Licensing. Pennsylvania: U.S Department of Health and Human Services.
Reports National Health Statistics (2008). Complementary and Alternative Medicine Use among Adults and Children, 2007. Hyattsville: U.S Department of Health and Human Services.
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