Not All Acupuncturists Are Created Equal! To receive the best possible care, it is crucial that you work with a licensed and fully qualified acupuncturist.
Acupuncture is one of the fastest growing health fields in the United States and many health and medical practitioners have latched on to its popularity by offering acupuncture services to their patients.
For non-licensed acupuncturists, to obtain a certification in acupuncture, a doctor or health professional undergoes an abbreviated 300 hours or less of training, often under the tutelage of a single instructor with much of the training done at home.
In fact, there are physical therapists practicing acupuncture with a mere 24 hours of “training”.
Acupuncture is an art and science with nearly 2,000 years of clinical history. The complex principles based on meridians, energy, and organ systems, cannot be learned in an abbreviated course. It takes years to become proficient in the intricate practice, learn a whole new set of diagnostic criteria, perfect the precise needling techniques, identify the myriad of meridians and acupuncture points, and learn the fundamentals of Eastern medicine. The doctors and therapists that get certified to practice acupuncture often have no clinical experience and have not treated actual patients prior to receiving their certification in acupuncture. They don’t need to take the national certification exam and have no continuing education requirements.
Unfortunately, more than 50-percent of those practicing acupuncture, practice with this crash course training and lack of experience.
A licensed, qualified acupuncturist has accrued more than 2,000 hours of education in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. A graduate program in acupuncture and Oriental medicine takes three to four years of schooling, hundreds of hours of supervised clinical practice, evaluations, and a well-rounded education centered on the knowledge of a number of expert professors. It’s not a course taken on the weekends that relies on videos, books, and minimal interaction with trained professionals. A licensed acupuncture practitioner has completed their master’s level education, on-site at a nationally accredited college or school of acupuncture or Oriental medicine. They must treat at least 250 patients before licensure and have passed the national certification exam through the NCCAOM. In addition, to maintain a license, the practitioner must engage in regular continuing education. Licensed acupuncturists will have the abbreviation L.Ac. in their title. Some have further qualifications and are Nationally Certified Practitioners of Oriental Medicine or Diplomates of Oriental Medicine (Dipl. O.M.).
Would you allow an individual who only completed 300 hours of medical school to perform a procedure on you? Probably not. This is akin to being under the care of a doctor or therapist certified in acupuncture, as opposed to a licensed acupuncturist. Your health and wellbeing are a priority, so don’t be afraid to inquire about an acupuncturist’s qualifications.