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
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
parameters such as body temperature, appetite and sleep patterns
Examine vital areas
of the body
points and other critical areas such as radial pulses, abdomen, and muscles
acupuncture points to treat
manipulate acupuncture needles
therapies for patients
by massaging specific acupuncture points
Advise patients on
aftercare and lifestyle changes
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.
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.
Graduates Earning Potential and Employment
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
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.