Alternative education options abound in Gainesville

The expansive presence of the University of Florida and its undergraduate and graduate programs is well-known to anyone who resides in Gainesville or the surrounding area. But many residents may not be aware of the plethora of alternative education options also available locally. Three unique schools that call Gainesville home include the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture, the Florida School of Massage and the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery.

Academy for Five Element Acupuncture

Located on 2nd Avenue in downtown Gainesville, the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture trains students in forms of healing that are becoming increasingly popular nationwide.

Prior to admittance to the Academy, students must have earned the equivalent of an Associate’s Degree. Once accepted, they complete an academic program that results in a Master of Acupuncture degree. Acupuncture is the ancient complementary medicine practice of inserting needles into particular points on the surface of the skin to stimulate the body’s natural energy flow, restoring balance and alleviating many conditions. The Academy also offers a certificate program in Chinese Herbal Studies.

The Academy is one of the few accredited acupuncture colleges in the country with a dedicated Five Element-based curriculum, and it prepares students to sit for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s national examinations. Graduates must pass these exams to practice in the vast majority of states.

The Academy operates a teaching clinic where members of the public can receive treatment from student practitioners who are in their final stages of training. The Academy also offers a group-style community clinic where veterans receive free treatments.

Tuition for the Master of Acupuncture program is $43,350, and the tuition for the Chinese Herbal Studies Program is $10,000. Financial aid is available from the Federal Stafford Loan, the Federal Graduate PLUS loan and Veterans’ Educational Benefits.

For more information about their programs and admissions, contact Academy for Five Element Acupuncture at (352) 335-2332, or visit

Florida School of Massage

Florida School of Massage has been providing education and massage services to the Gainesville community for more than 40 years. Positioned on Highway 441 just before Payne’s Prairie, the Florida School of Massage provides education in the art and science of massage therapy.

Students are not required to have completed college courses before admittance, making the program a good fit for high school graduates or adults looking to make a career change. As a six-month program, students complete the 670-hour schedule in 26 weeks, attending class Monday through Friday from 8am to 2:30pm. There is also a night program that begins each July and runs for 52 weeks on Monday through Thursday evenings.

The Florida School of Massage has two on-site clinics: a professional clinic that employs licensed massage therapists and a student clinic that serves as a learning environment where students practice and experience providing massage therapy to the public at a reduced cost in a supervised, semi-private setting.

The Florida School of Massage is accredited by the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation (COMTA) and is qualified to participate in the Title IV Federal Financial Aid programs for the $11,200 cost of tuition.

For more information, contact Florida School of Massage at (352) 378-7891, or visit their website at

Florida School of Traditional Midwifery

The Florida School of Traditional Midwifery (FSTM), located off of East University Avenue in downtown Gainesville, is a not-for-profit school that offers training and licensure in direct-entry (students not coming from nursing school) midwifery.

Midwifery is among the growing trends of “holistic” approaches to healthcare, which refers to the care of the whole person, including physical, mental, emotional and spiritual factors. Midwives provide an array of health care services for women that include gynecological examinations, contraceptive counseling, prescriptions, and labor and delivery care. Increasingly, more women are choosing to have a midwife attend their birth at home or at a birth center instead of opting for a hospital birth delivered by an obstetrician.

FSTM is committed to providing quality educational programs for those who share the school’s mission to provide the best care possible for childbearing women and their families. They offer direct-entry midwifery educational programs based on combining the art of traditional midwifery with current knowledge of medical science and evidence-based practice. Their midwifery programs provide students the knowledge and skills essential to practice as a Licensed Midwife under the Midwifery Practice Act, Florida State 467.

The FSTM curriculum was developed by a committee comprised of Licensed Midwives, Certified Nurse Midwives, midwives trained through apprenticeship, consumers and Childbirth Educators. Input was also received from a variety of midwifery educators across the country. FSTM’s curriculum adheres to the Core Competencies developed by both the Midwives Alliance of North America (MANA) and the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM), and is consistent with the Curriculum Framework developed by the Commission for Independent Education and the requirements of Florida law.

The school’s program is designed to enable students to develop and refine the clinical and communication skills that are essential components of midwifery. Emphasis is placed on teaching out-of-hospital birth, differentiating between low-risk and high-risk pregnancies and preparing students to organize and operate their practices after licensing. Graduates of the three-year program are eligible to become Florida Licensed Midwives after passing the North American Registry of Midwives examination.

The total tuition cost is $37,626, with books, supplies, and required certifications. Multiple options for financial aid assistance are available.

For more information, call the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery at 352-338-0766 or visit


by Amanda Purser

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