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Acupuncture Schools and Training Courses

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a system of healthcare that originated in ancient China. It encompasses medical practices such as herbal medicine, massage and acupuncture. With increasing exposure to non-traditional forms of healing, more people are turning to acupuncture as an alternative health treatment for common ailments.

Job Description and Responsibilities of Acupuncture School Graduates

Acupuncture refers to the application of needles into points in the body for pain relief and general health. It aims to restore one's qi (energy) throughout the body.

An acupuncture school graduate can begin a career as an acupuncture physician in a private practice or in a health-care facility.

As a trained acupuncturist, you would be expected to:

  • Arrive at a diagnosis by questioning patients

  • Assess various parameters such as body temperature, appetite and sleep patterns

  • Examine vital areas of the body

  • Palpate tender points and other critical areas such as radial pulses, abdomen, and muscles

  • Determine which acupuncture points to treat

  • Insert and manipulate acupuncture needles

  • Prescribe herbal therapies for patients

  • Perform acupressure by massaging specific acupuncture points

  • Advise patients on aftercare and lifestyle changes

  • Perform office administrative tasks

Good communication skills are absolutely essential as acupuncturists must understand their patients' ailments and enlighten them on the procedure. Acupuncturists need to be sensitive, patient and understanding as some people may fear needles or feel uncertain when undergoing treatment.

Acupuncture School Training & Certification

Attending an established and accredited acupuncture school is the first step towards becoming a certified practicing acupuncturist. Most schools require that applicants have a high school education and a minimum number of college credits. Some schools even insist that applicants possess a bachelor's degree. Students may also have to sit for an interview prior to admission. Foundation science courses in biology and other clinical sciences (anatomy, physiology, chemistry, etc) must also be completed within the first or second year at the school.

Acupuncture schools educate students in the science and philosophy of acupuncture, training them to become healers in the art. Generally, a comprehensive understanding of TCM, which includes acupuncture, anatomy, and herbal medicine, is introduced in the first year of training. In the subsequent year, students acquire an in-depth understanding of acupuncture and advance needling techniques. They will learn about moxibustion, spooning, warm needling, through and though needling and electrical stimulation, with safety being emphasized at all times.

Clinical apprenticeship follows in the third year of school, giving students an opportunity to practically apply the knowledge acquired during their training. Different schools offer different degrees such as a Master in Acupuncture, Master of Science in Acupuncture, or Master of Oriental Medicine Degree.

Education at acupuncture schools can span up to 3,000 credit hours and take 3 to 4 years to complete, depending on the program. The structure of some programs suits the schedule of working adults by offering classes in the evening and on weekends. Full tuition can cost up to $45,000 for a 3 or 4 year program.

Students who complete acupuncture training need to sit for an exam administered by the National Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), which grants them certification as qualified acupuncturists. Most states accept the NCCAOM certification as the only state licensing qualification. However, certain states also require that graduates fulfill other eligibility criteria such as additional academic or clinic hours, before state licenses are awarded. Furthermore, a few states also mandate that students pass the Clean Needle Technique exam.

Acupuncture School Accreditation

It is imperative that you thoroughly check the accreditation of the school to which you are applying. The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) accredits acupuncture and Oriental medicine schools, ensuring that the content and quality of programs meet their strict standards. At present, approximately 50 schools are either accredited by ACAOM or are candidates for accreditation.

Acupuncture School Graduates Earning Potential and Employment Prospects

Graduates of acupuncture schools who have received their state license to practice can expect to earn well. Salaries range between $30,000 - $50,000 annually. As most acupuncturists are self-employed, their earning potential can vary significantly depending on the size and location of their practice and experience.

As people become more open-minded and accepting of complementary and alternative medicine, acupuncture is gaining popularity. Consequently, the employment prospects for those with acupuncture training look optimistic.



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