Professional

Professional

Professional Course

This online course offers an in-depth education in Herbal Medicine accredited by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and consisting of approximately 3,600 hours of taught and directed study, divided into 12 modules. It is rooted in the understanding that an authentic herbal medicine course must transcend the biomedical model, and support the growing body of knowledge of the healing power of plants.

Two pathways, a 3-year or 5-year version, are offered, to cater for the different circumstances of students. The 3-year version is designed for students who are able to devote between 21 and 30 hours per week (21 hours being a minimum level and 30 hours reflecting the amount of study required during intensive phases of the training). Clinical training, in years 2 and 3, is an additional time commitment, over and above the regular study hours, of a half to a full day per week.

The 5-year pathway is designed for students whose schedule, due to work or other commitments, makes it difficult to commit to the number of weekly hours required by the 3-year version. In the 5-year pathway, the expectation is that students will devote 14-20 hours to study each week (14 hours being a minimum level and 20 hours reflecting the amount of study required during intensive phases of the training). Clinical training, which can be undertaken from the middle of Year 2, but is expected to take place mainly in Years 3-5, is an additional time commitment, over and above the regular study hours, of a half to a full day per week when it takes place.

The course content and the total number of study hours and clinical training are identical in both pathways.

For details of the curriculum and content, please follow the links at this page to the pathway that interests you.

3-year pathway

This 3-year online course offers an in-depth education in Herbal Medicine accredited by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and consisting of approximately 3,600 hours of taught and directed study over 3 years, divided into 12 modules. It is rooted in the understanding that an authentic herbal medicine course must transcend the biomedical model, and support the growing body of knowledge of the healing power of plants.

The three Herbal Tradition modules are deeply integrated to ensure that the learner develops breadth and depth in the understanding of both the therapeutic repertoire of contemporary plant-based medicine, and the philosophical and historical traditions that underpin its use in holistic practice. The Human Science and Clinical Methods modules adopt a systems-oriented approach, based on the principles of Functional Medicine, in which emphasis is placed on the fundamental balances and processes that determine health. The student learns to embody a process of open inquiry, moving from pattern to detail and back again – a practice at the heart of the art of all medicine.

The inclusion, in years 2 and 3, of Integration Modules – in which all lectures have a patient-centred focus, with students completing clinically-oriented small-group tasks each week – allows the introduction of inquiry-based learning (IBL) techniques proven to have beneficial effects on student satisfaction, and on the successful achievement of learning outcomes.

Students who wish to practice professionally are required to complete a 500-hour Heartwood Clinical Training Scheme during Years 2 and 3 of their studies on the Professional Course, in addition to their online studies.

Year & Module Course Title Course Content
Year 1 PC101 The Herbal Tradition 1 Herbal medicine philosophy and materia medica
Year 1 PC102 Plant science Pharmacology; pharmacognosy; pharmacy and dispensing; ecology
Year 1 PC103 Human science 1 Anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology and nutrition
Year 1 PC104 Practitioner development 1 Research methods, medical ethics
Year 2 PC201 The Herbal Tradition 2 Materia medica; the manufacture of herbal medicines
Year 2 PC202 Clinical Methods 1 Case taking; differential diagnosis; medical tests; counselling
Year 2 PC203 Human science 2 Anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology and nutrition
Year 2 PC204 Integration 1 Case-based IBL, with a focus on herbal medicine
Year 3 PC301 The Herbal Tradition 3 Plants in practice; toxicology and safety
Year 3 PC302 Clinical Methods 2 Clinical examination, safeguarding, restorative nutrition
Year 3 PC303 Practitioner development 2 Business skills; practice management and development; research project
Year 3 PC304 Integration 2 Case-based IBL

5-Year Pathway

This 5-year online course offers an in-depth education in Herbal Medicine accredited by the National Institute of Medical Herbalists and consisting of approximately 3,600 hours of taught and directed study over 5 years, divided into 12 modules. It is rooted in the understanding that an authentic herbal medicine course must transcend the biomedical model, and support the growing body of knowledge of the healing power of plants.

The three Herbal Tradition modules are deeply integrated to ensure that the learner develops breadth and depth in the understanding of both the therapeutic repertoire of contemporary plant-based medicine, and the philosophical and historical traditions that underpin its use in holistic practice. The Human Science and Clinical Methods modules adopt a systems-oriented approach, based on the principles of Functional Medicine, in which emphasis is placed on the fundamental balances and processes that determine health. The student learns to embody a process of open inquiry, moving from pattern to detail and back again – a practice at the heart of the art of all medicine.

The inclusion, in years 3-5, of Integration Modules – in which all lectures have a patient-centred focus, with students completing clinically-oriented small-group tasks each week – allows the introduction of inquiry-based learning (IBL) techniques proven to have beneficial effects on student satisfaction, and on the successful achievement of learning outcomes.

Students who wish to practice professionally are required to complete a 500-hour Heartwood Clinical Training Scheme during Years 2-5 of their studies on the Professional Course, in addition to their online studies.

Study Methods

The delivery of this course takes place through a VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) called Moodle.

A range of learning and teaching activities take place via this online delivery platform including -

  • Substantial weekly lessons embedded into the delivery platform, featuring filmed tuition by expert practitioners from around the world, underpinned by text, graphics, and additional learning resources
  • Signpost sessions comprising film and text guidance on the learning journey, including progression through the course and assessment tasks and methods
  • Regular one-to-one tutorial guidance on all matters relating to the course (including student welfare)
  • Exclusive masterclasses comprising bespoke filmed interviews supporting the learning aims of the course
  • Online conferencing, real-time events, group tasks and discussions

All video materials are accompanied by slide presentations, detailed notes and other break-out materials, as well as carefully targeted external links to photos, public domain audio, and relevant video snippets.

There are two students entries to the Professional Course each year - in April and September - and course modules are divided into 3 terms per year to allow for summer, Christmas and spring breaks.

Year & Module Course Title Course Content
Years 1-2 PC101 The Herbal Tradition 1 Herbal medicine philosophy and materia medica
Years 1-2 PC102 Plant science Pharmacology; pharmacognosy; pharmacy and dispensing; ecology
Years 1-2 PC103 Human science 1 Anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology and nutrition
Years 1-2 PC104 Practitioner development 1 Research methods, medical ethics
Years 2-3 PC201 The Herbal Tradition 2 Materia medica; the manufacture of herbal medicines
Years 2-3 PC202 Clinical Methods 1 Case taking; differential diagnosis; medical tests; counselling
Years 2-3 PC203 Human science 2 Anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, pathology and nutrition
Years 2-3 PC204 Integration 1 Case-based IBL, with a focus on herbal medicine
Years 4-5 PC301 The Herbal Tradition 3 Plants in practice; toxicology and safety
Years 4-5 PC301C Plant foods as medicines An investigation of plant-based foods with medicinal actions
Years 4-5 PC302 Clinical Methods 2 Clinical examination techniques; Safeguarding; nutrition in practice
Years 4-5 PC303 Practitioner development 2 Business skills; practice management and development; research project
Years 4-5 PC304 Integration 2 Case-based IBL

Professional Course 3-Year pathway – Practical Information

Aspect Detail
Start date: September and April each year
Duration: 3 years
Entry Criteria: Successful completion of the Heartwood Foundation Course (or equivalent), plus 4 GCSEs at grades A-C / grade 4 or above (including English, Maths and a Science); or BTEC Level 2/First Diploma (in a relevant subject with merit or distinction); or NVQ Level 2; or equivalent Level 2 qualification.
Those without GCSE English at grade C / grade 4 or above need to offer proof of proficiency in English, for example:
  • Cambridge Advanced Certificate (CAE) / Cambridge C1 Advanced - 185 overall with a minimum of 176 in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) / Cambridge C2 Proficiency - 185 overall with a minimum of 176 in each skill
  • IELTS (Academic) - 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in each skill
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) - 69 overall with a minimum of 62 in each communicative skill
  • TOEFL iBT Institution code: 0394 - 100 overall with a minimum of 25 in writing and 23 in each of the other skills
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE) - Level III (ISEIII) with merit in each skill
Applications from those over 21 with an existing qualification and/or experience in another therapeutic discipline will be considered for course entry on a case-by-case basis.
Enrolment: To enrol, please visit: https://heartwood-uk.net/home/professional/pc-apply
Number of modules/units: 12
Total study hours: 3,600 hours plus 500 clinical training hours
Assessment methods: • Regular formative quizzes and tasks in each Module component • Summative quizzes test understanding of Module components. • Module component projects and assignments (formative and summative) • Reflective logs • Final Clinical Exam (long case, short cases, dispensary assessment and viva voce)
Completion criteria: Formative Quizzes: 80% average across all quizzes (10 attempts allowed, highest score logged) • On-line activities logged by ‘check box’: 80% of check boxes achieved in each module • Summative quizzes: Pass grade obtained • Summative written assessments: Pass grade obtained • Webinars – participation logged in all webinars for each module • Reflective logs: Completed • Final Clinical Exam: pass in all elements
Prices (per year)

Note: All course fees can be paid in 10 interest-free equal monthly instalments per year (by direct debit).
Year 1: £2,000 Year 2: £3,500 (including clinical apprenticeship) Year 3: £4,000 (including clinical apprenticeship)
Discounted price for whole course purchase: Advance payment for the entire course: £8,500
Awards: Diploma in Herbal Medicine (DipHM), conferring eligibility to apply for membership of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH). More information about NIMH – Britain’s leading (and longest established) professional body representing herbal practitioners, can be found here: https://www.nimh.org.uk
Opportunities for further study: All graduates of the Heartwood Professional Course have 2 years free, unlimited access to all Heartwood CPD courses and presentations, and thereafter will be able to buy all CPD presentations at a substantial discount.
Aspect Detail
Start date: September and April each year
Duration: 5 years
Entry Criteria: Successful completion of the Heartwood Foundation Course (or equivalent), plus 4 GCSEs at grades A-C / grade 4 or above (including English, Maths and a Science); or BTEC Level 2/First Diploma (in a relevant subject with merit or distinction); or NVQ Level 2; or equivalent Level 2 qualification.
Those without GCSE English at grade C / grade 4 or above need to offer proof of proficiency in English, for example:
  • Cambridge Advanced Certificate (CAE) / Cambridge C1 Advanced - 185 overall with a minimum of 176 in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) / Cambridge C2 Proficiency - 185 overall with a minimum of 176 in each skill
  • IELTS (Academic) - 7.0 overall with a minimum of 6.5 in each skill
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) - 69 overall with a minimum of 62 in each communicative skill
  • TOEFL iBT Institution code: 0394 - 100 overall with a minimum of 25 in writing and 23 in each of the other skills
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE) - Level III (ISEIII) with merit in each skill
Applications from those over 21 with an existing qualification and/or experience in another therapeutic discipline will be considered for course entry on a case-by-case basis.
Enrolment: To enrol, please visit: http://heartwood-uk.net/home/professional/pc-apply
Number of modules/units: 12
Total study hours: 3,600 hours plus 500 clinical training hours
Assessment methods: • Regular formative quizzes and tasks in each Module component • Summative quizzes test understanding of Module components. • Module component projects and assignments (formative and summative) • Reflective logs • Final Clinical Exam (long case, short cases, dispensary assessment and viva voce)
Completion criteria: Formative Quizzes: 80% average across all quizzes (10 attempts allowed, highest score logged) • On-line activities logged by ‘check box’: 80% of check boxes achieved in each module • Summative quizzes: Pass grade obtained • Summative written assessments: Pass grade obtained • Webinars – participation logged in all webinars for each module • Reflective logs: Completed • Final Clinical Exam: pass in all elements
Prices Yearly in advance: £1900 per year
Monthly payments: 59 payments of £160, with a final 60th payment of £60.
Discounted price Advance payment for the entire course: £8500
Awards: Diploma in Herbal Medicine (DipHM), conferring eligibility to apply for membership of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH). More information about NIMH – Britain’s leading (and longest established) professional body representing herbal practitioners, can be found here: https://www.nimh.org.uk
Opportunities for further study: All graduates of the Heartwood Professional Course have 2 years free, unlimited access to all Heartwood CPD courses and presentations, and thereafter will be able to buy all CPD presentations at a substantial discount.

FAQs

 

What is the difference between the diploma and a BSc?

Those who successfully complete the Professional Course are awarded a Diploma in Herbal Medicine, which confers eligibility to apply for membership of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, the largest and oldest professional body of herbal practitioners in the UK. The course involves study up to Level 6 (i.e. BSc level) but we have intentionally chosen a diploma award in order to retain the academic freedom to offer a fully comprehensive training and broad-based clinical apprenticeship encompassing all aspects of western herbal medicine. 

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How does the professional course compare to an MSc in Herbalism?

The Professional Course is at the level of an undergraduate honours degree (encompassing levels 4, 5 and 6) and is designed to educate students in the clinical practice of Western herbal medicine. An MSc in Herbal Medicine is a post-graduate qualification (level 7) and is not usually seen as sufficient, on its own, to meet the requirements to practice that are placed on individuals by professional bodies of practitioners, such as the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

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Is there a difference between achieving a Diploma or a BA in terms of acceptance to the profession and the reality of practising professionally upon completion?

No. The key factor is recognition of the qualification by a professional body of practitioners. We are one of only three educational institutions that are currently training students that are recognized as conferring eligibility to apply to become members of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.  

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Approximately how many hours of study is the course a week?

A professional training course demands a serious investment of time.

The recommended study time for the 3-year course is 21-30 hours per week depending on the demands of the course at the particular time.

For the 5-year course, the recommended study time is 14-20 hours per week depending on the demands of the course at the particular time.

Of these hours, 30-50% would typically be computer based (watching videos and completing online tasks, attending webinars, and completing quizzes and short tests). The remainder comprises directed or self-directed background reading, research and project work, tutorials, residential gatherings and herb garden projects. Students are expected to engage in their studies for at least 40 weeks of the year.

There are 4 main modules in each year of study. Each module is divided into three terms to allow for summer, winter and spring breaks.

During each year, students will complete original projects which, in addition to online assessments, contribute to each student’s overall grade.

The clinical training hours amount to an extra half or whole day per week, in addition to the study hours listed above.

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I haven’t completed your Foundation Course, am I able to enrol directly on to the Professional Course?

Students do not normally enrol on the Professional Course without having completed a suitable Foundation Course (such as the Heartwood Foundation Course), except in cases where previous educational or professional experience qualifies them to register. We can supply a list of suitable Foundation courses on request.

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Where are the clinics based and how are the clinic hours organised?

The clinical training is managed and overseen by Heartwood and involves each student “rotating” through a number of different clinics during their clinical years.

We have a network of training clinics around the country so that students can complete the clinical elements of their course as near to home as possible. Please email us at admin@heartwood-uk.net for an up-to-date list.

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Is it possible to complete the Professional Course without the clinical element?

The professional course is a training course for herbal practitioners, and the clinical element is an integral part of that training. However, many elements of the course form an ideal preparation for other careers incorporating medicinal plants, and constitute the core of our Plants and Health course.

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I live overseas, am I still able to enrol onto the Course?

For overseas students, we work on a case-by-case basis to establish training clinics in all relevant territories for those who cannot travel to the UK. Such clinics already exist in North America and Canada.

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I work full time, am I able to enrol on this Course?

Yes. The 5-year course has been designed specifically for students who have other demands on their time, to ensure that they do not feel that they have to make compromises either in the training or in their other commitments.

We will also consider arranging clinical training in blocks to fit around your work commitments.

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Can the course be completed in a shorter time period than 3 years?

No. The training Is already very concentrated and it would not be realistic to complete it in a shorter time.

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Why is the Heartwood Professional Course more demanding than some other courses?

Our Professional Course involves around 2,000 hours of study and 500 hours of clinical training. It is certainly a big commitment. But it is a training course for practitioners who will face a wide range of situations in which the depth and type of knowledge covered in many of the teaching units are absolutely essential. The study required in some other courses is equivalent to our Foundation Course, which we consider to be in no way suitable as training for a professional medical herbalist, and which we generally ask people to undertake before engaging on the Professional Course.

Without exception, the teaching staff have encountered patients facing difficult medical choices, sometimes life-threatening ones. It is important in those situations to understand in proper depth what is going on, how one can help and where the limits to herbal treatment lie. A professional practitioner should understand properly the patient’s medical history, operations they may have had or may be considering, how medications that they are taking might be safely reduced and which to treat with great care and so on.

It is also important to be able to correspond with other health professionals on a basis of shared understanding and mutual respect. A practitioner should, when reading a doctor’s report, for example, fully understand not only the medical terminology used but also the clinical reasoning. Not to do so makes meaningful exchange and potential collaboration impossible, and that is very much not in the patient’s best interest.

This type of communication with other health professionals is also invaluable in establishing a thriving practice. Many doctors are frustrated by seeing patients with long-term problems that are hard to treat safely with pharmaceutical drugs and would like to be able to do more. It helps greatly if they can refer such patients to a practitioner whose treatment is gentle, safe and effective, and in whose professionalism they can be fully confident.

And lastly, there is the need for self-evaluation, research and communication that enable the profession to grow and to be taken seriously by the wider world. This is what being in a profession really means.

We do not claim to be the only course to offer such thorough training, and we are only too happy for there to be a choice. But we are very firmly committed to offering the standards we would like the public to be able to expect in all herbal practitioners.

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Do you offer recognition of prior learning?

We have agreements with a limited number of herbal medicine training institutions that allows their students to be given recognition of prior learning. However, we strongly feel that all others should undertake the whole of the training as it is integrated in a way that resists separation. 

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What if my personal circumstances change and I need to take a year out from my studies?

Yes, this is possible. The stipulation is that the 3 Year Course pathway is completed within 5 years, and that the 5 Year Course pathway is completed within 7 years. Students are able to switch between pathways at appropriate points if their circumstances change. 

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Since all of the study is online, if a student is having an issue or struggling with a topic how would this be best resolved – i.e. what support is there to overcome these types of situations?

Since all of the study is online, if a student is having an issue or struggling with a topic how would this be best resolved – i.e. what support is there to overcome these types of situations?
In addition to the online studies, you have access to the following opportunities throughout the Course: 

  • the Heartwood Herb Garden and Herbal Medicine Study Library
  • Materia Medica study weekends
  • a personal tutor scheme
  • a vibrant student forum
  • Student Gatherings
  • weekly live webinars with Module tutors

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Cost

The cost of the course is under a third of the price of a degree course and allows students the flexibility to complete their studies around work, family commitments. As a matter of policy, the Charity aims to promote professional education at minimum cost to help avoid students incurring debt.

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Completion of modules

A new lesson in each module component is posted each week, but learners always have access to all previous lessons so that they can adapt their study routine to their personal timetable. However, the end of term and end of year summative assessments must be completed according to terms set out in the relevant assessment briefs. 

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Do I need to attend all the webinars?

Heartwood webinars are live events, but they are always recorded and archived so that they are available for all learners to view at any time. When you view a recorded webinar, the fact that you have watched it is logged on the Learning Management System, and counts as attendance for assessment purposes.

Moreover, you are still able to post questions to the webinar leader after you have viewed a recording, so missing a live webinar session because of family, work or other prior commitments will neither detract from your learning nor adversely affect your fulfilment of assessment criteria.

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Do you have international recognition?

No UK trainings in Herbal Medicine have formal international recognition, but membership of the NIMH is respected world wide.

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Career opportunities

The majority of graduates go on to set up in private practice as professional medical herbalists, and on the Professional Course we cover the process of setting up, developing and managing a practice in great detail. We also offer free CPD so that practitioners can keep abreast of current developments. Many practitioners also develop networks with local GPs and other practitioners, and again we offer guidance about this process. After some time in practice, opportunities may arise for teaching in the field of medical herbalism, and for some practitioners this is an important part of their work portfolio. Some herbalists choose to move into product manufacturing and herbal supply, and also into growing and herbal horticulture. Whatever path is chosen, there is a network of support offered.

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Successful completion of the on-line course and clinical training scheme leads to the award of a Diploma in Herbal Medicine which confers eligibility to apply for membership of the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, thus enabling graduates to practice as professional consulting medical herbalists.

All graduates have continuing access to free online Continuing Professional Development seminars.

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Herbal Tradition lll Module Leader, Chanchal Cabrera, says:

It is a pleasure and a privilege to be a part of designing, developing and delivering a really holistic online education program in clinical herbalism. Making use of modern technology to bring together experts from around the world, and opening this expertise to students all over the world, is innovative and exciting. It creates opportunities for teachers and students to build an international herbal community of practicing medical herbalists and life time learners.
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CHANCHAL CABRERA MSc FNIMH (RH)AHG

Human Sciences Module Leader, Nicole Freris, says:

I feel honoured to be part of Heartwood. It is an initiative that the world is ripe for! The rich tradition of western herbalism, and the ever-present power of plant medicine, is in its re-emergence. Supported by the young science of Functional Medicine, this course will create a wonderful synergistic integration of the best of the old and new. The mix of online lectures and apprenticeships will offer both flexibility and support, freeing the learning from the usual institutional constraints. I trust it will serve for all those called to support our journey back to health and vitality.
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NICOLE FRERIS MB BChir MRCGP