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Know Your Acupuncturist
Particularly in States Other than Hawaii and Montana
Practitioners whose educational focus is in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine receive a large majority of their training focused in this field supplemented with western medical training to support the complementary treatment of clients who will also be working with a MD. They undergo an extensive clinical internship averaging 3 years. Other healthcare practitioners may use acupuncture, which is one of the many therapies of Oriental Medicine, as an adjunct to their primary practice. While all of these practitioners have training in western medical sciences, this chart is designed to illustrate the varying levels of acupuncture training generally undertaken by healthcare professionals.
States vary on their requirements for state licensure. The acupuncture and Oriental medicine schools in these different states often reflect the state's requirements in their school's curriculum and diploma requirements. At this point, only two states require passing of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM®)'s board exams to be allowed to advertise or state that they do acupuncture. Those states are Montana and Hawaii.
In states other than Hawaii and Montana, it is important to understand your state's regulations and leniency in training required for someone to say they "do acupuncture", and to understand the difference between "doing acupuncture" with full training and testing in the diagnostic and treating theories of Oriental Medicine vs "doing acupuncture" with limited introduction to point locations - or even with zero hours of training required in a few states for MD's who may choose to add "acupuncture" to their list of services.
Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.): 3-4 year full-time masters degree program of 1363 - 2000 hours in Acupuncture (or 2000-3000 hours in Oriental Medicine) treating a wide range of conditions. The vast list of conditions effectively treated by acupuncture and oriental medicine, as cited by the World Health Organization, includes musculo-skelatal to auto-immune to emotional to chronic complex conditions.
Medical doctor, osteopath, naturopath, or chiropractor (with "Certified Acupuncturist" title from the Chiropractic Board or service title of "Dry Acupuncture" in many states) who uses acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy: 300 hours or less, usually focused strictly on musculo-skelatal symptoms, without any introduction to or instruction in diagnosis of root cause in accordance to Traditional Chinese Medical theory.
Detoxification technition: around 100 hours or less
Note: Many western-modality health-care practitioners do pursue more studies than the minimum required, and there are some chiropractors who have pursued the full course of study required for a licensed acupuncturist, to enable them to pass the NCCAOM boards. These practitioners will use the state's title for a licensed acupuncturist and will have an NCCAOM diplomate standing.
In conclusion, don't hesitate to ask questions to know more about a practitioner's training and the type of acupuncture offered in a clinic. Has your practitioner fully embraced and regularly employed the powerful depth of acupuncture's healing?
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