Ayurvedic education and Internships in the United States lack significant standards and uniformity. As a result, schools determine the nature of their programs, and this has led to significant variations in educational approaches.
The goal of the California College of Ayurveda has always been to provide the highest quality education. For nearly 30 years, the College has been self-assessing student competency and modifying its programs accordingly.
This has been true in both its approach to academic knowledge, as well as clinical competency through the internship experience. As a result, the California College of Ayurveda is widely considered the leader in Ayurvedic education in the United States.
What are the lessons that the College has learned in its nearly 30 years?
Practitioner competency requires extensive and direct intern-patient contact with the intern performing full and complete consultations and evaluations and developing and implementing treatment plans. This is essential to develop the clinical and personal skills needed to support patients on their journey back toward health.
Practitioner competency requires supervision: The college has learned that it is essential to the learning experience, and patient safety, for patient care to be closely supervised. As a result, no care is ever provided to a patient that is not first approved by a clinical supervisor.
Practitioners need to learn counseling skills. Counseling is at the heart of Ayurvedic health care. Patients thrive only when they are successful in making changes to their lifestyles. Ayurvedic counseling is the process of supporting each person to make those changes and in doing so, reach their full potential physically, emotionally, and at the level of consciousness.
Success after graduation comes from both clinical competency and positive self-esteem: A successful clinical internship must build the student’s vision of themselves and their future success. Toward that end, the college’s program charges patients for care and financially rewards interns for their service through stipends. When interns see that patients are willing to pay for care and that they can earn money for their services, self-esteem increases, and most importantly, the student develops a positive vision for their future.
Providing a quality education costs schools a lot of money. As a result, many schools take financial shortcuts. This can endanger the patient, and rob the student of the opportunity to learn the essential skills that will lead to both competency and success. Common shortcuts at various Ayurvedic educational institutions include:
- Having multiple students work with one patient, each asking a question or two.
- Having students see only each other as patients and not “real world” patients who are not already engaged in the study of Ayurveda
- Avoiding follow-up care: Many internships focus on seeing a patient one time. Quality Ayurvedic care requires follow-up care to monitor patient compliance and symptomatic progress. This is a part of the classical ayurvedic approach and is called “upashaya” and “anupashaya” which means assessing the results of care and then modifying care accordingly.
- Limited or no supervision: Some schools allow students to provide care without any supervision beyond turning in a patient’s file for credit.
Providing a quality Ayurvedic educational experience through a quality internship is essential to graduating competent and confident practitioners. It is important for all schools to step up their internship programs for the sake of both their students and the public.