Question: If you are diagnosed with cancer, will you go to your General Practitioner for treatment, or would you go to an Oncologist, who has additional training and specializes in cancer treatment? Keeping that question in mind, would you go to someone for acupuncture who has under 200 hrs of general acupuncture training, or a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in acupuncture with over 4yrs of training plus continued education on acupuncture and oriental medicine?
I remember my first acupuncture treatment. When I went in for a treatment, I knew nothing about the training required nor how to select the right acupuncturist, I just listened to the amazing story of a friends success with it and decided to give it a try. I assumed if someone was doing acupuncture they had the proper licensing for it. Luck for me my first acupuncture experience was with a licensed acupuncturist. From the first needle insertion, I was hooked at trying to understand how it worked. A couple of years and many books later, I decided to look into doing acupuncture for a living. Like many, I had no idea about the training required or the difference in who performs acupuncture and was shocked at what my future career required for training.
It seems today many people are jumping on the acupuncture bandwagon. Various practitioners are trying to cash in on an amazing study of healing. As someone who quit her job to return to the college life for 4 years to be properly trained in acupuncture, I am a little annoyed at others with little training in my profession to advertising they do acupuncture. So how do you tell the difference between acupuncturists? Allow me to explain the differences so you can make an educated choice on where you go and who you allow to insert needles.
1. NCCAOM Licensed Acupuncturists
NCCAOM Board Certified licensed acupuncturists are required to successfully completed over 3,000 hours of intense study and research at accredited colleges plus pass National Acupuncture boards given by NCCAOM. They also must be a licensed health practitioner in their state (this varies by states.) The must meet minimum acupuncture continued education requirements to be re-certified every 4 years.
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), was established in 1982 as a non-profit organization. The mission of the NCCAOM is to establish, assess, and promote recognized standards of competence and safety in acupuncture and Oriental medicine for the protection and benefit of the public. You can recognize licensed acupuncturists by the following initials: Dipl. Ac, Dipl. OM, Dipl. CH, or Diplomate of Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine or Oriental Medicine.
To find a licensed acupuncturist, visit www.nccaom.org to find a listing of board certified acupuncture practitioners in your area.
2. Medical Acupuncture
This type of acupuncture tends to be advertised by medical physicians, chiropractors, nurses, and now, even some massage therapists. To do medical acupuncture they do not take national acupuncture boards but are ‘certified’ after only 100 – 220 hours or less of study, most of which is undertaken as home study courses without the benefit of the tutoring of experienced acupuncturists. They are not required to re-certify in acupuncture or continue their education in acupuncture.
The Licensed Acupuncturists qualification should not be underestimated, and patients should be aware of the potential dangers of receiving treatment from healthcare professional’s who are not licensed acupuncturists practitioners. As a result of the lack of training of ‘medical’ acupuncturists’ or chiropractors performing acupuncture, we have seen a rise in recent years in the levels of bad feeling towards acupuncture, with frequent claims of painful and uncomfortable treatments which have little healing effect.
Please pass this information on to your friends and family if they are interested in trying acupuncture. As someone who dedicates their life to helping others through the many benefits of acupuncture, it is very disheartening to hear people say acupuncture did not help them because they went to someone with under 200 hours of training, not a licensed acupuncturist.