Perspectives on CAM education in Europe
An overview by Nicolas Rowley, MA, PGCE, MRCS, LRCP. London, 2017.
(Excerpt from the overview, which can be downloaded in pdf, see below)
Most CAM training in Europe is designed and delivered by non-profit associations and institutions, or by private teaching/training centres dedicated to a particular CAM discipline. In some parts of Europe (notably the UK), a number of CAM therapies are taught at Universities, both at undergraduate (Bachelor) and postgraduate (Masters) level.
Academic standards, curriculum content, learning outcomes and examination procedures are generally overseen by professional bodies of each discipline, each with its own defined standards of and requirements for training, accreditation, registration and ongoing CPD. There is no current overall European framework for CAM training, though a number of initiatives (notably in the field of Herbal Medicine) are working to develop a consensus on which such a framework could be built.
Medical doctors training in CAM often attend the same training institutions as non-medically qualified students, though some courses are offered by European Universities as postgraduate training courses for doctors only. There are Professorial chairs in CAM in some EU member states, and most EU undergraduate medical curricula contain some broad introduction to CAM, though such classes are often not obligatory for medical students.
The CAM professions make a considerable effort to work with health and education authorities at a national level in an attempt to create state-recognised training courses and accreditation procedures. Take up of these ideas in Europe as a whole is slow, however.
Standardisation of legal status, and harmonisation of training and certification of CAM practitioners through centralised, independent bodies, would have enormous value in terms of patient choice and patient safety, particularly in the management of chronic disease.
Numbers of CAM students
Though detailed research in this area is lacking, it is generally reckoned that there are approximately 5,000 CAM students in the UK at any given time, and approximately 22,000 CAM practitioners.
CAMbrella (von Ammon, 2013) estimate that there are 160,000 ‘non-doctor’ CAM practitioners in Europe as a whole, which suggests that the total number of CAM students in Europe is of the order of 35,000. A majority of these students are likely to be concentrated in those countries that allow the practice of alternative and complementary by ‘non-medically qualified' individuals (including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Portugal, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway) - see Appendix A6 - although there are CAM training courses available in many other countries. Training in Reflexology/Zone Therapy, for example, is available in Slovenia, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, United Kingdom, Portugal, Ireland, Norway, Poland, Italy, Greece, Estonia, Georgia, the Slovak Republic and Switzerland.
The cost of CAM training at undergraduate level is high, and in the UK ranges from €5,000 to €9,000 per year (and significantly more for international students), though a plethora of short courses in a myriad of disciplines are available at low to medium cost (of the order of €100-150 per day of study.