A Curiosity: Bastyr announces Masters of Public Health Degree

A Curiosity: Bastyr announces Masters of Public Health Degree

Bastyr University offers degrees in naturopathy, acupuncture and Oriental medicine and Ayurvedic "sciences."  Among the subjects taught in these programs are homeopathy, lectures and labs in "meridians and points," and massage.

Here, for example, is a description of Ayurvedic Body Systems 2, from the Ayurvedic Sciences degree program:

This course presents additional concepts of ayurvedic anatomy, including a deeper understanding of Doshas within the areas of organs, systems and nadis, srotas (channels). It also explores the depth of the three attributes (Satva, Rajas and Tamas) in addition to how each governs the mind and emotions. Also addressed are Agni (Fire) — its types, its function, its importance in health and disease — and Ojas (Natural vitality, vigor, immunity) — its function and signs of increase or decrease.

And here is a description of the qi gong course, from the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree program:

Qi gong refers to the building, harnessing and proper directing of qi (energy.) Through proper exercise and instruction, students experience qi gong as a valuable resource for self healing and building energy.

 The Bastyr Homeopathic Specialty Clinic offers Homeopathic "Grand Rounds," which are, I suppose, just like medical school grand rounds except based on a prescientific "theory" that defies basic principles of chemistry, physics and biology. 

Bastyr claims, rather immodestly:

As the world's leading academic center for advancing and integrating knowledge in the natural health arts and sciences, Bastyr University will transform the health and well-being of the human community.

All of this information is from the Bastyr website. For a less sanitized view of the quality of a Bastyr education, we'll turn to this description from the recent graduate of the Bastyr naturopathic doctor program:

Given my journey through naturopathic medical school, I can provide strong evidence and testimony of the quality and quantity of training at Bastyr University. I base what follows on my academic transcript, course syllabi, course catalog, and the student clinician’s handbook in addition to my personal experiences. It should come as no surprise to readers of ScienceBasedMedicine.org that naturopathic training is not as the profession presents. I’ll say it anyway: naturopathic education is riddled with pseudoscience, debunked medical theories, and experimental medical practices.

(For more, see Naturopathic Diaries.)

With all of this in mind, I must say I view with some skepticism Bastyr's announcement that it will begin a Masters of Public Health degree program this coming Fall.  Naturopathic doctors in particular have a well-documented aversion to immunization and studies demonstrate that their patients suffer for this. It is thus ironic that a mainstay of naturopathic education would offer a program in public health, considering the universal support for immunization among public health officials and practitioners. 

So far, the information on the new program is sketchy.  There is a curriculum, but no description of the courses offered. GRE general scores are "required" but there is no indication what scores are acceptable or whether, or how, they will be considered. Even more curiously, there is no faculty listed. Which makes me wonder how a prospective student could make an intelligent decision to apply to this particular program.  And isn't it getting kind of late? Classes start in a few months. 

The website doesn't say whether the program will apply for accreditation by the Council on Education for Public Health, the agency authorized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit public health schools and programs. All of the currently accredited public health degree programs are in mainstream American colleges and universities.

And this program is not cheap either. Tuition is estimated at $27,638 per year. (They don't even know what the tuition at their soon-to-begin program will be!) That is about the same as out-of-state tuition ($28,256) at one of the top public health programs in the U.S.: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In-state tuition there is a bargain at $11,046.  

If the Bastyr public health program decides to apply the same standards of science and evidence as other university-based programs, and gets accredited, it will be curious to see how their students can exist in an atmosphere that so thoroughly embraces pseudoscience. If Bastyr's program falls below those standards, it will be most unfortunate, and a huge waste of money, for their graduates. Their public health degrees are less likely to be accepted by employers (or accepted at all) and they will be viewed with skepticism in the public health community. 

Points of Interest 03/15/2015
ND as Primary Care. Talking Points.

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