Many states require acupuncturists to become licensed in order to practice and in many cases national certification helps satisfy the requirements for licensure. Here Allied Health World presents information on the national certification process through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine as well as general information on the licensing requirements set on a state level:
Why should I look into becoming nationally certified as an acupuncturist?
The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is an independent body that accredits acupuncture training programs that meet a set of stringent criteria for comprehensively training would-be practitioners with a focus on public safety. The national certifying agency NCCAOM will only certify an applicant who has completed a program that is ACAOM accredited. Having received national certification through NCCAOM provides peers, prospective employers, and clients alike the assurance that the nationally certified acupuncturist was educated and trained by a reputable institution that has developed a curriculum in line with the ACAOM’s safety standards.
What is the NCCAOM?
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exists as the largest and most well-established professional organizations for acupuncturists. This organization works on the behalf of acupuncturists as well as the general public, by working to maintain the highest level of excellence in training and practice for professional acupuncturists.
To become certified through NCCAOM, students must graduate from acupuncture programs that are ACAOM accredited (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), and upon graduation must pass the NCCAOM exam. This exam is comprised of both written and practical components, and tests for knowledge, competency, and understanding of safety standards in practice, most notable of these is the clean needle technique knows as CNT.
What are the common licensing requirements set on the state level?
Most states govern the practice of acupuncture and include it among the forms of therapy that require state licensure. Virtually all of these states have also established some continuing education requirements that must be fulfilled annually or biannually in order to maintain licensure. The states that require practitioners to hold a state issued license, but that don’t have any continuing education requirements for license renewal are Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C., Georgia, Hawaii, Montana, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin. In most cases, acupuncturists are expected to renew their license with the state every other year.
A number of states do not have their own regulatory boards to establish specific requirements, but rather rely on the NCCAOM to provide national certification to those who qualify. These states set NCCAOM certification as the only criteria that must be met in order to attain and retain state licensure. The eleven states that grant licensure to NCCAOM certified acupuncturists without requiring them to meet any other criteria are Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.
A number of states have their own continuing education requirements for license renewal ranging from fifteen hours in Alaska, Arizona, and Idaho to twenty-four hours in Arkansas, thirty hours in Florida and Iowa, and finally California, which requires 50 hours of continuing education every two years. Opportunities for satisfying continuing education requirements are available through online channels, through seminars and clinics, or even through classes offered by the same acupuncture schools offering advanced acupuncture degrees.
A few states are quite prohibitive in their licensing requirements and only allow MDs, osteopaths, and chiropractors to practice acupuncture. These states are Alabama, Delaware, Kansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota. Other states have strong restrictions, but aren’t quite so prohibitive in that they allow acupuncturists to practice while being supervised by a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy. These three states are Kansas, Louisiana, and Michigan. Oklahoma and Wyoming are the only two states that are completely unregulated and have no laws governing the practice of acupuncture. These states do not require practitioners to be licensed, nationally certified, nor are acupuncturists in these states required to participate in any continuing education.