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Natural Awakenings Twin Cities

Anoka-Ramsey Community College Leads the Way to Integrative Health & Healing

Oct 30, 2016 09:00AM ● By Valerie Lis and Jackie Flaherty

This is an exciting time to pursue a holistic health education. Some of the ancient healing traditions are enjoying renewed popularity. People are looking to align their mind, body and spirit and seeking trained professionals to guide them.

Many people feel drawn to the healing professions but not all are comfortable with the Western medical approach. This is where Integrative Health and Healing (IHH) comes in. Holistic health practitioners offer an increasingly respected alternative that treats the whole person, not just one part or a symptom.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College (ARCC) was the first college in Minnesota to launch a degreed program in IHH in 2005 with an A.S. Degree and Certificate. ARCC was the first college in the nation to offer an A.S. Degree in Integrative Health. The programs were originally designed with grant funding in conjunction with Fairview Health Systems. Fairview expressed a need for IHH personnel in these populations based on emerging healthcare trends.

The certificate is designed to take three semesters and the degree is designed to take four semesters for students who attend full-time (15 credits/semester). It is expected that students who attend part-time, pursue multiple programs/majors or change their program/major will take longer to complete the program.

Integrative health refers to techniques that fall outside the realm of conventional medical practice. Other terms used to describe integrative health include complementary, alternative, Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM), natural health, and holistic health. With more than 100 modalities, this field includes acupuncture, chiropractic, massage, hypnotherapy, biofeedback, Healing Touch, qigong, Reiki, yoga, herbology, aromatherapy, homeopathy and holistic nutrition.

The A.S. degree at ARCC is unique. Most major universities in the U.S. offer courses in the field of integrative health, including master’s degrees at the University of St. Catherine and the University of Minnesota. There are, however, a limited number of colleges with undergraduate degrees.

Integrative health primarily focuses on preventative care and chronic conditions as well as some acute care. Many patients and clients seek the services of practitioners to supplement their medical treatment for cancer, diabetes, AIDS, pain, and other chronic health conditions. As baby boomers age, its popularity is expected to continue to rise.

Employment opportunities have been increasing and are expected to continue. According to a study published in the journal Health Sciences Research (2011), 76 percent of healthcare workers reported using alternative or complementary therapy in the preceding year compared to 63 percent of the general population. The aging population, along with the increase in chronic health conditions, ensures a continued demand for these services.

Two of the more well-known and well-respected places in Minnesota to implement CAM include the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota, although more and more western medicine clinics and hospitals are beginning to incorporate some of the alternative therapies.

The Veterans Health Administration facilities also have embraced offering CAM services. The most commonly offered modalities are acupuncture, biofeedback, chiropractic care, guided imagery, hypnotherapy, meditation, music therapy, progressive relaxation and stress management.

As acceptance and growth in the use of CAM modalities continue, the rise for experienced practitioners will also grow. Having people follow their heart and their calling to step out of societal expectations and into their own energy to provide these services will help them as well as their future clients. For anyone wanting to make a difference in people's lives, IHH presents an ideal field of study or career.

Anoka-Ramsey Community College is located at 11200 Mississippi Blvd. NW, Coon Rapids. For further information, contact Academic Advisor for the IHH program, Kate Hostnick-Harper, at 763-433-1255 or K[email protected].

Valerie Lis, MA, is a faculty member at Anoka-Ramsey College teaching courses in Integrative Health and First Year Experience. She is also a certified expert practitioner and trainer in Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT tapping) and the author of the upcoming book Simplified EFT: Hints and Tips for Better Results.

Jackie Flaherty is the publisher of Natural Awakenings Twin Cities, which is part of the national Natural Awakenings franchise publishing in over 95 cities in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

Written in conjunction with an internal report from the IHH advisory board at ARCC.

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