The American Institute of Alternative Medicine (AIAM) is located in Columbus, Ohio and strives to train people to provide healing and relief through treatment using holistic, natural approaches to medicine.
The institute offers six separate training programs in areas that further the philosophies embraced by the school. Students may choose to train in the Medical Assistant Program, the Acupuncture Program, the Practical Nursing Program, the Registered Nurse Program, or one of the two massage therapy programs which offer training in either Western or Chinese Massage Therapy.
Founded in 1994, AIAM is the outgrowth of Massage Away Inc. School of Therapy which was established in 1990 as the largest therapeutic clinic in Central Ohio. The clinic continued to grow throughout the next decade and as the need for good therapists skyrocketed, the institute was born. Its first class had fourteen students. The school was relocated to a new building in northern Columbus in 1997 and in 2000, a twelve thousand square foot addition was made and the school was renovated to accommodate a need for more clinic space.
The owners and an instructor went to China in 2001 to study Chinese Massage Therapy and traditional Chinese medicine practices and philosophies at Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. By the end of their educational trip, they were convinced that this was a new method of teaching that needed to be incorporated into their institute and both the Chinese Massage Therapy Program and the Acupuncture Program were born. The school bestowed Honorary Presidency to Dr. Haizhou Xie when he honored them with a visit in 2002. The doctor is renowned for his practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been designated by China as a National Living Treasure.
Finally, in 2009, the entire school was remodeled again to make room for the new Medical Assisting and Nursing Programs. Accreditation was granted by the Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and was approved by the U.S. Department of Education to offer federally subsidized financial aid in 2002, and the school took another step toward where it is today. The school was also approved at this time to offer financial aid for the training of U.S. veterans, reservists, military dependents and the Ohio National Guard.
The school’s transformation from a simple massage therapy school to an internationally recognized and fully accredited school of alternative medicine was now complete. The institute now educates students from all over the world and strives to continually advance and incorporate their training and philosophies into modern medical science.
The four different schools of study include massage therapy, acupuncture, medical assisting and nursing. Programs take as little as nine months for the medical assisting, to three years for the acupuncture certification. Classes are available during the day, at night and on weekends so that any student that would like to attend may do so.
The acupuncture program takes three years to complete and is an extremely comprehensive area of study that is the equivalent of a master’s level program. Students studying for this degree will take courses in ethics, communications, biomedical science and professional development as well as the classes directly related to applying the techniques of acupuncture. By the end of the program, students will have completed nine 12-week quarters and over twenty-one hundred clock hours.
Students in this program are expected to maintain high grades. Due to the advanced academic challenge of this program, students will be required to have a minimum of an associate’s degree or sixty semester hours at the baccalaureate level prior to acceptance.
The nursing program provides two separate degrees. Students may study in either the Practical Nurse Program or the Registered Nurse Program. Both programs are accredited by both the State Board of Career Colleges and Schools and the Ohio Board of Nursing. The PN takes twelve months to complete and requires nine hundred sixty total clock hours.
The RN takes an additional fifteen months. It is required that students entering the RN program have already completed the Practical Nursing program on campus or at another accredited school of nursing.
Students will study traditional scientific nursing methods as well as holistic methods of nursing that promote caring for the patient’s psychological, spiritual, sociocultural and biological needs in order to prepare them for passage of the Ohio nursing boards so that they may then obtain employment in the field of nursing. Students will learn to demonstrate competent, safe practices and a firm knowledge of computer technology required in the nursing field today.
The need for medical assistants is expected to grow nearly thirty-five percent over the next several years. AIAM provides a holistic approach to the training received at their institution by including holistic and complementary methods along with traditional training in their Medical Assisting Program. Students that complete this training may work in doctor offices, hospitals or schools.
Over a period of nine to twelve months, students will learn in a variety of environments including traditional classroom training and externship opportunities in order to be more capable of transferring their training into their profession. The curriculum consists of clinical procedures, business practices, pharmacology, computer training and communication training necessary to assist with varying levels of patient needs.
Students choosing to pursue a career in massage therapy may choose from two different programs including Western Massage and Chinese Massage. Though the two methods share some similarities, they represent two vastly different schools of thought and students will study the theories and practices behind their chosen method. Students studying either method will take classes in basic anatomy and physiology as well as business and ethics classes in order to prepare them for the entrepreneurial side of their new careers.
The Western Massage curriculum includes study of basic and advanced anatomy and physiology, Swedish massage practices, clinical training and training essential to certification in Neuromuscular Therapy. Students will focus intensely on the anatomy of the human body as well as the pathologies that affect the muscles and skeletal system. Asian massage will be discussed briefly, but western medicine and treatment is the greater focus. The program may be completed in nine months if the student attends full time, or may take up to twelve months for those who choose to atten part time. Graduates will be prepared to take the licensed massage therapy examination and enter into entry-level massage therapy positions.
The Chinese Massage curriculum focuses on the energetics of the body versus the mechanics and pathologies. Students studying this method will learn about soft tissue manipulation techniques, structural realignment methods and acupuncture points as means of providing treatment to clients. Students will also learn about the function of the musculo-skeletal system and internal organ disorders. Chinese medicine is known to be largely preventative in practice and this program follows that belief system. In addition to learning restorative health techniques, students are taught to encourage the promotion and maintenance of the body. Students graduating from this program will be prepared to take the Ohio State Medical Board’s examination for licensure as a massage therapist and also for certification in Asian Bodywork Therapy from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
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Four of the six programs of study have unique admissions requirements. All programs require that students complete the online application form and submit the application fee. Students will also need to submit official high school transcripts, transcripts from any college that they may have attended, a physician’s release form and letters of reference. Students who are not native speakers of English may be required to take English proficiency tests as well
Some of the programs will also require TB testing, Hepatitis B vaccinations and criminal background checks. Students should work closely with the school to ensure that they meet all of the requirements for admission into their program of choice.
After students apply, they will be invited to take a tour of the campus and participate in an interview with an admissions counselor. When admitted, they will receive an electronic admissions packet that will contain such materials as their seat reservation form and financial aid information. Students should be sure to complete this packet and return it in a timely manner. After acceptance, students will be required to attend orientation. After a student completes orientation, they may begin study.
The institute offers several different options for students. As an accredited program, it is eligible to offer federal financial aid. To receive this aid, a student needs to complete the Free Application for Financial Aid (FAFSA) online. The form is available in January and should be completed as early in the application process as possible in order to get all pertinent documentation and awards in time to start school. Students will need financial information for both themselves and their families when completing this form and should have this information readily available when completing the application.
Some of the federal aid that may be received includes the Pell Grant, the Stafford Loan and federally subsidized loans for undergraduate students. The school also offers a payment plan for students who meet eligibility requirements. There may be other scholarships available from other resources and the institute has information to assist students in finding this assistance.
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Elisabeth Bailey is a freelance writer and editor with particular interests in academics, food,and sustainability . She is also the author of A Taste of the Maritimes: Local, Seasonal Recipes the Whole Year Round and writes regularly for Canadian Farmers’ Almanac and the National Wildlife Federation. Elisabeth and her family live and enjoy great local food in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.