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Los Angeles (June 1, 2001): Advancing the study of Ayurveda to new levels in the United States, the state of California has granted approval to American University of Complementary Medicine (AUCM) to offer a professional M.S. and a combined scholarly-clinical Ph.D. program in Ayurvedic Medicine, the first programs of their kind in the nation.

Ayurvedic medicine is the comprehensive medical system indigenous to India which originated at least 5,000 years ago. With "Ayur" meaning "life" and "veda" meaning "science", Ayurveda literally is translated as the "science of life".

Records indicate that Ayurvedic physicians were skilled surgeons and practiced plastic surgery on the face and other parts of the body and fitted amputees with artificial limbs as early as 2000 B.C. in India. However, Ayurveda, as it is practiced in America and India today, generally uses natural remedies.

"Our Master of Science degree in Ayurvedic Medicine is modeled after the current Master's degree programs in acupuncture and Oriental medicine in the United States," said Kathryn P. White, Ph.D., L.Ac., AUCM's President and Chief Academic Officer. "It combines didactic education and clinical training with an emphasis upon cultivation of the practitioner."

The 100-trimester unit M.S. degree program provides education and training in Ayurvedic medical theory, philosophy, constitutional analysis, diagnosis, Ayurvedic anatomy and physiology, Ayurvedic pathophysiology, Ayurvedic tissues and systems, and treatment modalities.

Ayurvedic treatment modalities covered in the program include herbal medicine, nutrition, life style counseling, detoxification and purification techniques known as Panchakarma from North and South India, rejuvenation therapies known as Rasayana, and Hatha and meditational yoga.

"The Doctor of Philosophy in Ayurvedic Medicine builds upon the curriculum from the M.S. degree in Ayurveda, expanding and deepening the knowledge base and clinical skills of the practitioner, while training the student in research design and statistics and preparing them for advanced roles in practice, teaching, and scholarship," White said.

"In both the Master's and Doctoral programs, students also participate in clinical internships and case seminars; however, the doctoral level internship is at an advanced level. Doctoral students also are expected to contribute new knowledge to the field through the completion of a doctoral dissertation with the guidance of a doctoral committee composed of at least three faculty members with related doctoral degrees," she said.

The curriculum was developed in close consultation with the Ayurvedic Medicine Department Chair, Dr. Dhiren Patel, who holds a doctorate in Ayurvedic medicine from Gujurat Ayurvedic Medical University in Jamnagar, India. Patel has lived and practiced in the greater Los Angeles area for the past 15 years and taught at local universities. Other faculty members, all with medical degrees in Ayurveda from India, also participated in the design of the Ayurvedic curriculum.

"We tried to make the education in this program as close as possible to that provided in Ayurvedic medical schools in India," Patel said.

"The program brings together gifted Ayurvedic physicians, East India scholars, and American researchers of Ayurvedic medicine," White said.

"One university offers a Ph.D. degree in Physiology with a specialization in Ayurveda, but we are the first and only university in the United States to offer a Ph.D. degree in Ayurvedic Medicine," White said.

Full-time students attending school three trimesters a year could complete the MS Program in Ayurveda in approximately two years and four months, provided that they enter with the appropriate prerequisite course work in the basic sciences and psychology, White said.

"Those without the prerequisite course work can apply to the program and be accepted, but they must complete the prerequisite course work in their first year," White said. "With full time attendance three trimesters a year, they could probably complete the program in three years."

The university does permit students to attend classes part-time, she said. Students may take up to six years to finish the Master's degree program.

White said the university was employing highly selective admissions criteria for the Ph.D. Program in Ayurvedic Medicine, requiring students to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Miller Analogy Test (MAT), or AUCM's own Doctoral Admission Test (DAT). In addition, applicants are required to write an application essay, send in two letters of reference, and go through an extensive admissions interview.

"Because this is a combined scholarly and clinical doctorate, it is especially important that students be prepared to perform at a doctoral level in the course work and be capable of completing a doctoral dissertation," she said.

"Doctoral course work focuses on analyzing, synthesizing, and applying theories, strategies, techniques, and practices, and on generating new knowledge," she said. "The Ph.D. Program requires that students assess, compare, contrast, synthesize, analyze, create, develop, and/or apply various theories, techniques, practices, and strategies, usually by writing graduate level term papers and completing essay examinations."

"The doctoral program also requires the production of an original, comprehensive, scholarly contribution to the field of Ayurvedic Medicine, in the form of a dissertation," she said. "This dissertation can be theoretical, clinical, or empirical in nature. All students also must complete course work in Research Design, Basic and Multivariate Statistics, and a research seminar critically examining the research literature in the field."

AUCM also offers the first-in-the-nation, comprehensive Ayurvedic Bodywork Certificate Program, comprised of 600 hours of study in Ayurvedic medical theory, Ayurvedic acupressure using marma points, oil and herbal massage, nutrition, and South Indian Malobar-style Panchakarma treatments with warm oil and herbal compresses. This certificate program, appropriate for those with a minimum of a high school diploma, prepares graduates for Ayurvedic Bodywork careers in exclusive spas and other settings.

Although some massage therapists already purport to offer Ayurvedic massages, most have trained in Ayurvedic Bodywork for no more than one day or one weekend, White said.

The certificate program and the master's and doctoral programs currently are offered in an "in-residence" only format. Students could be admitted and pursue the programs if they live in another city; however, they would have to travel to Los Angeles to attend weekend and extended-weekend classes and they would be at a disadvantage in not having as easy access to local faculty or library resources on campus, White said.

"The university plans to develop distance education programs within the next year; therefore, it may be possible for students to begin their studies by attending weekend classes and later to complete some course work using distance education methodology," White said.

"However, even when distance education is inaugurated, it is expected that students would need to travel to the campus for in-residence programs two or three times a year and they would be required to come to the campus for certain other events, such as their doctoral preliminary and final oral examinations," she said.

"Special provisions would also have to be developed to enable students to complete their clinical training," she said.

The first group of Master's degree students are slated to begin the program in September 2001, with additional groups being admitted in January, May, and September, the start dates of the three trimesters, each year.

"We anticipate that graduates of the programs will become leaders in practice, scholarship, and teaching in the field of Ayurvedic medicine in America," White said.

The first class of the Ayurvedic Bodywork Certificate Program students began in mid-May 2001, with the next group slated to start in September.

Interested persons may contact the university via mail at 11543 Olympic Blvd., West Los Angeles, CA 90064, tel: (310) 914-4116, fax: (310) 479-3376, or via e-mail at "Curentur@flash.net". The university's website is "www.aucm.org."

Contact: Kathryn White, Ph.D., L.Ac.
Email: curentur@flash.net
Phone: 310-914-4116