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Diploma Mills and Alternative Medicine
holistic and natural health care is still the Wild West of medicine.
Licensing and regulation are not yet available in most states for many
of the different fields within alternative medicine so educational
standards are not yet uniform.
are several kinds of research you can do to check out the credentials of
people offering an alternative health care service or education. This
kind of research is smart consumerism whether the credentials belong to
someone who is running the educational program, is the author of a book,
is selling you supplements or is a practitioner.
first question to ask is the credential a degree or certificate? A
certificate is usually held to a much lower educational standard than a
degree and may be legit. However, because of this lower educational
standard don’t expect it to be recognized by any state agencies or
other institutions. Importantly, that doesn’t address the reliability
of the knowledge taught in the program. This is where the teachers’
credentials become important.
is a much trickier issue for distance learning programs offering
“degrees.” The different degrees (undergraduate: associate and baccalaureate;
graduate: masters and doctorate) offered in the United States'
educational system have well standardized academic expectations. Thus,
any kind of doctorate degree would be expected to require the highest
level of academic rigor. However, there are a lot of “diploma mills” selling doctor
degrees now for 10 to 20 times less money, time commitment and effort
than the legitimate degree.
me illustrate this in practical terms: I have a doctor of naturopathic
medicine degree (N.D.). It took me 4 years of undergraduate premed, 4 years of
naturopathic medical school (including a 2-year clinical internship) and
a one-year full-time residency to get my training. Plus it now takes as
much as $80,000 to $100,000 to finish naturopathic medical college
(thank goodness it wasn’t this expensive 25 years ago when I went!).
are a number of diploma mills that will try to sell you a naturopathic
doctor degree through the mail or Internet for $4,000 to $6,000. If you work hard at it you can
finish the program in less than 6 months. I personally did an analysis
of one of the more popular programs and I found the whole thing was
maybe equivalent to one freshman semester of undergraduate college. Worse than that,
its content was a dangerous mismatch of useful information and myths.
Even the useful information was only at the academic level of any common
book aimed at the average public.
is important to always look at the credentials’ of the people who offer services or
education in alternative health care. What are they? Where did they get
them? Do they name of the college they graduated from? I find that
people with legitimate degrees will almost always mention what college
they got it from. If they fail to mention where the credential or degree
came from, it is a safe bet that it is made up or they bought it through
the mail or on the Internet.
they name the source of the degree there is one more step - look up who
accredits the college. Many diploma mills have created their own
legitimate sounding accrediting agencies so it is important to
investigate further. All legitimate colleges will be accredited by an
agency recognized by the United States Department of Education. Such
accreditation assures that the college is offering what it says it is
offering. You can go to http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/
to see a list of all accredited colleges in the
United States and their United States Department of Education recognized
steps will pretty much save you from giving your hard earned money away
to someone who does not deserve your confidence. As always, the
knowledgeable consumer is a smart consumer.
On 11/20/07 the Seattle Times newspaper ran an detailed article about an
alternative fake "doctor" who was convicted of negligent
homicide in Colorado recently. The article goes on about how these kinds
of people make themselves seem legitimate through collecting misleading
or fake credentials. This article is a valuable read for all natural
health care consumers: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2004024299_miracle20m0.html