Know Your Scope of Practice

Through fastidious attention to the details required in structuring a new health care profession, NAMA has dedicated the past 15 years to establishing and developing Ayurveda in the U.S. In the process of studying other health care professions and their development processes, the board, committees and other involved individuals recognized the need to establish three levels of Ayurveda practice that would best serve the American public.

Ayurvedic Health Counselor

Ayurvedic Practitioner

Ayurvedic Doctor

After identifying the title for each category, the next task was to define and develop a scope of practice for each category. A scope of practice describes the range of procedures, actions and processes that determine the boundaries within which a professional practices.

The Scope of Practice Services Two Purposes

  1. Defines what the professional can do.
  2. Clarifies to the consumer what they can expect from this level of professional.

A scope of practice allows consumers to compare one professional to another in determining their health care options. At the same time, it keeps each professional contained within his or her own domain of expertise. It is important that health care professionals not wander off into each other’s scope of practice. This is often when they get into trouble.  

A good example of this is an Ayurvedic Health Counselor, trained in diet and lifestyle, who offers clinical treatment advice to a client with a diagnosed disease condition. This is regarded as practicing medicine without a license. Other health professions take this very seriously. It is very important to understand your scope of practice, as well as the scope of practice of other health professions, especially licensed professions such as doctors, dieticians, and massage therapists.

Ayurvedic Professional Categories & Scopes of Practice

NAMA has established a full scope of practice for each of the following categories.

Ayurvedic Health Counselor

This category includes Ayurvedic professionals trained to focus on preventive health care as well as health promotion, with a specific focus on diet and lifestyle.

Ayurvedic Health Counselor Scope of Practice

>>Recommended range of training: 600-1000 hours

Ayurvedic Practitioner

This category includes Ayurvedic professionals with additional training in pathology and disease management beyond that of the Ayurvedic Health Counselor. These professionals also practice preventive healthcare and health promotion, using diet and lifestyle.

Ayurvedic Practitioner Scope of Practice

>>Recommended range of training: 1500-2500 hours

Ayurvedic Doctor

This category includes Ayurvedic professionals who have specific specialized training in Ayurveda with overview training in conventional medicine that enables them to interface with western medical practitioners and provide comprehensive Ayurvedic health care to their patients.

Ayurvedic Doctor Scope of Practice
>>Recommended range of training: 3000-4500 hours

Ayurveda in the United States required articulation of these three categories whereas in India there are only two categories, BAMS and BAMS MD. Due to the limitations of the practice of Ayurveda in the U.S., most schools started with the Ayurvedic Health Counselor level. As the health freedom legislation took hold in many states, the possibility of having an Ayurvedic Practitioner category evolved.  Soon, the Ayurvedic Doctor category will take its place as the profession grows and more educational opportunities emerge for this level of highly trained and specialized professional.  

It is important to understand, however, that the term ‘doctor’ may not be a valid or legal title in the United States until full licensure of the profession. There are many states that do not allow the use of this term outside of the western medical or PhD realm.  

Every Ayurvedic professional should take the time to read and understand the documents that describe your scope of practice with the intention to practice well within these definitions. These scopes have been set to secure and protect the Ayurvedic profession.  As the profession continues to grow, we will find them to be invaluable tools for reaching out to other health professions and the public with our offerings.

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