You leave vet school with a degree, a brain full of detail, and lots of enthusiasm. Then, somewhere down the line, it hits you — there is still so much you don’t know, and so many frustrating cases you wish you could do more for. Learning integrative medicine through continuing education (CE) will make a huge difference to your patients, and give you the added benefit of growing your business in a very satisfying way.


Integrative medicine is a growing field, and with increasing public demand for “alternative or holistic” medicine, it behoves the profession to support veterinarians in becoming educated in these services so they can supply them to patients. However, over the last couple of years, the Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE) has put restrictions on what is considered approved CE, which means approved courses for anything in the integrative veterinary field are becoming harder to come by.

The Registry of Alternative and Integrative Veterinary Medical Education (RAIVE,, has begun providing a service as an alternative clearing house to RACE for CE approval. This organisation consists of a group of well qualified practitioners and educators who asses the merits of a course. Their process follows the same guidelines as RACE, but with a more open vision of what constitutes veterinary medicine. RAIVE also requires that a reviewer be certified or have extra training and experience in any modality they review. Several state boards are now accepting RAIVE accredited courses for CE credits.

What you should know

• With the demands of a busy practice and limited time for attending conferences, it can be a challenge to get away for courses. You want to make the most of your CE time. For integrative veterinary medicine, a number of state boards approve tracks in conferences/congresses for CE. For example, the Californian Veterinary Medical Association approves Californian Holistic Veterinary Medical Association tracks for CE. Check whether tracks or seminars have been approved, and if so, whether your state boards accept these points.

• When evaluating a course in integrative medicine, you should know something about the credentials of the teacher or teachers, the school or organization hosting the program, and what you will learn. There are several schools that offer veterinary courses in integrative medicine, but that do not have veterinarians on their faculty, so take care.

• You might also look at the cost per hour of the education; most times, online education is significantly less expensive than attending face-to-face, especially when you consider flights, accommodation and meals.

• Most importantly, look at the learning outcomes and make sure they are consistent with want you want to know or do. A well-structured course will take you through a process, engage you to learn, and make the material something you can incorporate into your daily practice.

• CE has been transformed by the internet and related technology. The global trend is towards the flexibility and ease of online learning. One of the advantages of this type of learning is that instead of filling your brain with too much information during long hours at a seminar or conference, you can study anytime and anywhere, and at your own pace. Breaking up your learning into small chunks makes retention easier and the experience more enjoyable. Online learning also means you get to meet people from all over the world, gain access to great teachers, and most importantly, learn a new skill or approach that can transform your practice.

Many quality organizations offer CE in integrative medicine. Here are just a few:

• International Veterinary Acupuncture Society ( — online and face-to -face courses • Veterinary Botanical Medicine Association ( — webinars and online courses • American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association ( — an outstanding conference each year • Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy ( • American Veterinary Chiropractic Association ( — provides certification and CE in chiropractic • The Chi Institute ( — online and face to face courses • The Healing Oasis ( — several certification courses and seminars • College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies ( — certification as well as short courses online and face to face • Veterinary Information Network ( — online short courses in integrative medicine a couple of times a year

Dr. Barbara Fougere graduated in 1986, so she knows a thing or two about continuing education and the emerging trends in online education. She has been named the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association Educator for 2011. Dr. Fougere is the principle and one of the founders of the College of Integrative Veterinary Therapies. She has continued studying over the last 26 years, and has three Bachelor degrees, two Masters degrees, three post Graduate Diplomas, several Certifications and numerous other courses under her belt.