In this country, acupuncturists are not the only health care providers who can be licensed to do acupuncture. Other practitioners (chiropractors, MDs, DOs, and even physical therapists) can be licensed by their corresponding licensing bodies and legally administer acupuncture treatments. When considering from whom to receive acupuncture, however, it is important to understand where your practitioner is coming from.
Chiropractic acupuncture classes are instructed in four modules of 25 hours per module totaling 100 hours. Options are also available for 200 or 300 hour courses. Additionally, chiropractors have to take a 200-question multiple choice examination in addition to an oral exam in order to gain licensure.
A minimum of 300 hours of acupuncture education is required for a medical doctor to be licensed to administer acupuncture. This education includes a formal course of study of 200 hours. At least 100 hours of the minimum 300 hours of education for doctors is clinical training. Similar to chiropractors, doctors must pass a multiple choice as well as an oral exam.
Acupuncturists, however, must complete a total of 2,088 hours with classes in foundations or Oriental Medicine, differential diagnosis, treatment strategy, and Western pathology among others in order to be qualified to sit for board examinations. The minimum completion time for the acupuncture program is 30 months, or three academic years. Additionally, the acupuncture program consists of a minimum of 660 hours of clinical training, during which time the practitioner develops his or her own unique style of treatment.
Once cleared to sit for boards, acupuncture students must pass three exams: Biomedicine, Foundations of Chinese Medicine, and Point Location. Each of these exams consists of 100 questions and cover subject matter from a wide array of reference texts.
Acupuncture’s licensing body is the NCCAOM (National Certification Committee for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). Established in 1982, NCCAOM is the only national organization that validates entry-level competency in the practice of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) through professional certification.
Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine is extremely safe when performed by a licensed NCCAOM board certified practitioner. In order to receive the most qualified, thorough, and effective treatment possible, it is very important to ensure that your practitioner is licensed by NCCAOM.
Michael A. Sassack is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist serving the northwest suburbs of Chicago.