California | Outside California | Other "Acupuncturists" | Who Ya Gonna Call? |
How much training do you think an acupuncturist has? If you believe it is the same or less than a massage therapist, that's the average person's perception. It's actually much more than you think!
A licensed acupuncturist in the State of California has actually completed a Master’s Degree program of 3000 hours or more. This equates to four years of full-time study. Coursework includes training in Oriental Medicine theory, acupuncture point location, needling techniques, Chinese herbs and formulas, Eastern and Western nutrition, and Western sciences including anatomy, physiology, pathology, orthopedic and neurological evaluation, laboratory result interpretation, and physical examination. There is additional coursework in bodywork techniques, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, clinical counseling, and practice management. A licensed practitioner trained in California has had over 900 hours of supervised clinical practice, first as a clinical assistant and later as an intern.
After completing all this training, the practitioner must take (and pass!) the California Acupuncture Licensing Examination. This is a 250 question multiple-choice exam, given by the Acupuncture Board in conjunction with the Department of Consumer Affairs. The test is based on the actual day to day activities of the “typical” acupuncturist, and includes questions in all the required areas of study. On average, 50-60% of people who take this examination pass it on the first try. The California acupuncturist is licensed to practice the full scope of Oriental Medicine including acupuncture, Chinese herbs, nutrition counseling, bodywork, energy balancing techniques, and recommendation of therapeutic exercise and breathing techniques. back to top
Outside of California, licensing requirements vary widely from state to state. There are still six states without an acupuncture practice act including Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Wyoming, North and South Dakota. Most states that require a license to practice base their license on passing of the NCCAOM (National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) examination. NCCAOM requires graduation from an accredited school of acupuncture and/or Oriental Medicine. The minimum education requirement for their certification in Oriental Medicine is 2050 hours. back to top
How do other “acupuncturists” measure up? In California, chiropractors, nurses, naturopaths, and other allied health professionals must qualify for and pass the Acupuncture Licensing Examination to practice acupuncture. Medical doctors, osteopaths, and dentists can become certified in “Medical Acupuncture” through the American Board of Medical Acupuncture. Certification requires 300 hours of training including a 200 hour class and 100 hours of clinical training. Physicians are required to document completion of two years of medical acupuncture clinical experience including at least 500 patient acupuncture visits in order to sit for the certification examination. While Medical Acupuncture training includes the fundamentals of acupuncture theory, channel and point location, approaches to diagnosis and therapy, needling techniques, and patient management, it does NOT include training in the other modalities which make up Oriental Medicine.
In many states besides California, chiropractors, nurses, and sometimes physical therapists can also practice acupuncture with completion of a 100-300 hour training course. back to top
For maximum effectiveness, I would recommend seeking out an acupuncturist who holds an acupuncture license in your state. While some medical acupuncturists are fabulous dedicated practitioners of acupuncture, the licensed acupuncturist is truly the specialist in this modality. Would your want your acupuncturist to adjust your neck? Would you want your chiropractor to do your knee surgery? Why would you want your physician to do your acupuncture? There is a place for each of these practitioners in the medical system, and everything works best if we each focus where we have the most expertise and work together on the rest!
All of the Acupuncturists at Eastern Body Therapy are licensed acupuncturists in the State of California with Master's Degrees in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (this school is the "Harvard" of acupuncture colleges!!). In addition, Lisa Nicholson, L.Ac. has earned diplomate status in Oriental Medicine from the NCCAOM. Additionally, she has completed a 300 hour class in acupuncture orthopedics and nearly 200 post-graduate hours in functional nutrition. back to top