In an effort to help our readers better prepare for a career performing acupuncture therapy, Allied Health World has gathered information through independent research and interviews with practicing acupuncturists and practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Let this resource by your guide in learning what can be expected from schools offering programs in the ancient healing art of acupuncture:
What classes can be expected from acupuncture school?
An acupuncture school that offers a Master of Science in acupuncture program will invariably offer classes that cover a broad range of subjects. Among these are general medical classes such as anatomy, physiology, and Western pathology. As the course begins to expand to include an introduction to acupuncture therapy and the fundamentals of Chinese medicine, students can also expect classes in the history and philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine, botanical medicine, massage and palpation, traditional Chinese medicine diagnostic techniques, and even Tai Chi.
What degree options are available through acupuncture schools?
There are wonderful acupuncture certification programs that are often pursued by practicing MDs or all kinds, as well as chiropractors, naturopaths, and osteopathic physicians. MDs, DCs, DOs, and NDs often take these certification courses so as to get the formal instruction necessary to begin introducing acupuncture into their practice. These certification courses can usually be completed in about a year’s time with between 200 and 300 hours of acupuncture training.
Although licensed medical practitioners frequently pursue these certificate programs, they are also available to those individuals without formal medical training who are interested in pursing a career in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. However, the licensing requirements set by most states actually mandate more formal training than these programs provide in order to receive licensure for independent practice.
Some schools offer bachelor’s degrees in acupuncture, although students considering the four-year degree option will find that these programs are not widely available. These programs are an excellent option for those who intend to practice in states where the state licensing body doesn’t require practitioners to hold a minimum of a master of science. These bachelor programs are also one of the best avenues for an easy transition to the more common master’s programs.
A master’s degree is the standard for acupuncturists who wish to operate independent of physician oversight, open and operate an independent practice of their own, and make a career our of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The Master of Science in Acupuncture degree takes between two and three years to complete after having completed a bachelor’s program. The bachelor’s degree must be related to medical science, but does not need to be specific to acupuncture. It is worth noting that within this specialized field of medicine three and four-year long master’s programs are quite common and are available to individuals who hold a two-year Associate of Science degree.
For those more ambitious students who wish to explore the full breadth and scope of Chinese medicine, doctorate programs are also available.
What are the credentials held by graduates of acupuncture training programs?
There are a number of credentials that are commonly associated with those who practice acupuncture professionally. These may differ based on the type of degree earned, the professional acupuncture certification gained, and even the state in which the practitioner is licensed. However, all these credentials represent the same level of training for each respective degree level:
Master of Science Level - At the Master’s level, which is the one most commonly held in this field, practitioners will frequently carry the M.S.O.M (Master of Science in Oriental Medicine), M.A.O.M (Master of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine), or M.T.O.M (Master of Traditional Oriental Medicine) credentials. However, it is the L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist) that is far and away the most common master’s level designation, and in fact, the one most commonly used in the field of acupuncture overall.
Doctorate Level - In Canada, the Ac.D. (Acupuncture Doctor) designation represents a PhD in acupuncture, while in the US A.P. (Acupuncture Physician), D.O.M. (Doctor of Oriental Medicine), D.A or D.Ac. (Doctor of Acupuncture), and D.T.C.M. (Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine) are the credentials used to describe PhD level education for acupuncturists.