What does it take to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine?

According to Andy Lewis, aka @lecanardnoir, the answer is around £356 for a London resident*. He revealed this discovery in a blogpost a couple of years ago. He was investigating the c.v. of Jayney Goddard, President of the Complementary Medical Association. Her website describes how she uses homeopathy, psychotherapy and hypno-analysis and ... is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. Can this be true?, you might ask. Isn’t the Royal Society of Medicine like a medical wing of the Royal Society, an organisation to which only those of the highest academic stature are elected?  Er, well, no. It isn’t, and many of those working in alternative and complementary medicine are delighted at the ease to which they can gain an affiliation, and so embellish their CVs with impressive-sounding medical credentials. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that HRH the Prince of Wales was made an Honorary Fellow of the RSM in 2005.

Here are just a few of those who mention their affiliation to the RSM on their websites, and no doubt impress members of the public by doing so. I haven't been able to find a directory of members or fellows to check accuracy of these claims.

  • Dr Dato' Steve Yap. Complementary medical director, DSY Wellness & Longevity Center, Malaysia. His website has the initials FRSM after his name, even though this is specifically prohibited by the RSM. His qualifications include a Masters degree in Administration from the University of Durham, and Board certification in Nutritional Medicine and Anti-Aging Medicine from the World Society of Anti-Aging Medicine, France.

  • Terence Watts. Founder of The Essex Institute, where students learn advanced skills in both psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, and the Association for Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy.  His website disarmingly explains how he was a late starter who came to hypnotherapy at the age of 48, after working as a professional ballroom and Latin-American dancer, supplemented by spells as aTV engineer, electronics design, tailor, carpet-layer, computer programmer, furniture shop assistant, factory hand, salesman (fire extinguishers and alarms) and part time rock 'n' roller (lead guitar). He notes proudly that he is the first in his profession to be made a Member of the City and Guilds Institute, which he states is comparable to a British Masters degree.

  • Harald Camillo Gaier. Homeopath, naturopath, master herbalist, acupuncturist and author of the Encyclopaedic Dictionary of Homoeopathy. 

  • Peter King. Principal tutor at the British School of Traditional Japanese medicine. He has an MA in ‘Sports Science & Japanese Budo Studies’and also has qualifications in osteopathy, cranial osteopathy, acupuncture, Shiatsu, and Advanced Chinese Tuina. The website also notes that the Honorary Principal of the British School of Japanese Medicine, Hatsumi Sensei, has been honoured at the RSM by the permanent inscription of his name on the 'Wall of Honour'. 

  • The late Prof. Dr. Sir Anton Jayasuriya. Founder of Medicina Alternativa International, promoting and propagating acupuncture, homeopathy and natural medicine. 

  • David Reeves. President of the (British) National Register of Advanced Hypnotherapists. In private practice as a Psychoanalyst, Hypnotherapist since 1991, and as a Stress Management Consultant since 1994. Before moving into the field of Hypnotherapy and Stress, his background was in the commercial sector reaching the level of Managing Director.

  • Dr. Lyn M. Bateman. Has a Doctorate in Clinical Hypnosis/Hypnoanalysis and Doctorate and Ph.D. (sic!) in Alternative Medicine. I'm not clear which institutions offer such qualifications. Also has a seriously illiterate website, which advertises training in medical hypnosis for non-medical persons.

  • Marcus Webb. Registered Naturopath and Osteopath who qualified in 1988 from the British College of Osteopathic medicine (formally the British College of Naturopathy and Osteopathy) where he served as a part-time lecturer for four years.  

  • Iskra Harle. Naturopath offering treatment for "Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Infertility (men & women), Acne, Hypothyroidism, Allergies, Irritable bowel syndrome, Wheat intolerance, Milk intolerance, Weight control, Fatigue, Depression, Migraine & all kinds of headaches, Early stages of Alzheimer's disease/senile dementia, Back pain, Frozen shoulder, Post surgery recovery, Post chemotherapy recovery, and many more".

Do they turn anyone away? It’s hard to tell. The closest case I could find was Ingrid P. Dickenson, BRCP EMR, Electromagnetic Pollution Consultant, who is trained in Colour Therapy, Psychosynthesis Counselling, Reiki, Oneiric (Dream) Therapy, Communication Skills with children, Group Facilitation and Electro Crystal Therapy. She describes herself as a former associate member of the RSM, noting sniffily, “Due to The Royal Society of Medicine's inability to acknowledge the effects of electromagentic pollution (despite Ingrid's multiple contacts to them) Ingrid decided to cancel her subscription in early 2011.”

*Now stands at £365. See RSM site.