The Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) currently stands as the largest college of Oriental medicine in the nation. Now a new course has arrived at its San Diego campus, further distinguishing the college from all others. Students pursuing a profession in healthcare can now earn a certificate in medical cannabis at PCOM. The program comes as the “first accredited, college-level medical cannabis certificate in the nation,” as shared on the school’s website.
The program aims to teach medical professionals the fundamentals of cannabis, so they can implement that knowledge into their care of future patients. The three-semester course breaks into three main focal points, which are Endocannabinoid System and Pharmacology, Clinical Medical Cannabis Guidelines and Cannabis Care Capstone. Students enrolled in the program will dive into the physiology of the human endocannabinoid system and learn exactly how cannabis interacts with that system, review cannabis-based research, learn to implement cannabis into patient treatment and more.
Program Chair Carey Clark told CULTURE that she expects the courses to reach beyond the basics of medical cannabis education. “The Medical Cannabis Certificate program at Pacific College offers students the benefits of access to expert cannabis care clinicians at a college level, and a deep dive into not only the cannabis scientific knowledge base, but also the applied practice of providing cannabis care. Students leave the program with a sense of confidence in their knowledge and skills, and the ability to educate, support and coach medical cannabis patients to safe, effective use of cannabis for healing,” she said.
The three-course program counts for eight college credits and is taught completely online. Each course takes seven weeks to complete, and students may earn their certification in as quickly as six months.
Chief Operations Officer of PCOM, Malcolm Youngren, also spoke with CULTURE about the growing popularity of the school’s program. “Currently, two of our 200-plus professors teach this course. Due to high demand, we are currently in the process of expanding our Medical Cannabis and Nursing faculty,” he stated.
“The Medical Cannabis Certificate program at Pacific College offers students the benefits of access to expert cannabis care clinicians at a college level, and a deep dive into not only the cannabis scientific knowledge base, but also the applied practice of providing cannabis care.”
Youngren continued to share that this new program is a natural progression as it fits into the general focus of PCOM. “Pacific College has been a leader in traditional and integrative medicine for 40 years. We are used to [taking] risks and push forward innovation and education in integrative healthcare. We view cannabis as an extension of this tradition,” Youngren shared. “We have championed an evidence-based vision of acupuncture and oriental medicine and we will use that same approach to cannabis. We see a lot of ‘hype’ in this field and aim to bring a balanced and scientific approach to the subject.”
In order to enroll, potential students must have a license in a healthcare field, one associate degree in a healthcare field or be a current student at PCOM who has finished second year comprehensive exams. Students can also take the opportunity to apply for financial aid.
While PCOM is the first in San Diego to offer a certificate for medical cannabis, there are other colleges across the nation and locally that have already begun extensive research on the plant’s medical benefits. Physicians and scientists at University of California, San Diego, for example, have been involved in cannabis research for the last 19 years.
Youngren recognizes the great potential cannabis has within the medical field. “The legal cannabis market is large and expected to grow from $3 billion to $143 billion by 2025, with jobs in the industry exploding from 70,000 to 700,000 in the same period. Pacific College views this certificate as a solid foundation for any healthcare worker who wants to move into this field.”
Although the September cohort at PCOM is fully booked, those who are interested can enroll for the next term beginning on Jan. 6, 2020.