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October 2021

Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 1997 Aug; 3(4): 100-2.

Complementary medicine: legal status of the non-licensed provider in the USA.

Cohen MH.

Chapman University School of Law, Anaheim, California 92660, USA.

European providers of complementary medicine may be surprised by the formal strictures which their US counterparts face. A major hurdle to holistic practice in the USA is the statutory prohibition against the unlicensed practice of medicine. State statutes define 'medicine' broadly, creating a legal risk for unlicensed providers of holistic health care, as well as for licensed providers whose services are deemed to exceed their legislatively authorized scope of practice and cross into 'diagnosis' and 'treatment' of disease. This paper does not address scope of practice; rather, it focuses on the legal status of non-licensed (or 'unenfranchised') providers. For these providers, seeking occupational licensure will provide some protection against medical practice acts, as well as opportunity to elevate professional competence and prestige. However, many holistic providers prefer to remain outside the regulatory scheme. Mandatory licensure, title licensure and registration offer means of upgrading professional status and achieving state sanction for professional practice.


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