Acupuncture is one of many therapies that constitute what is known as Oriental medicine, also referred to as east Asian medicine (EAM), or traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). This is a complete medical system, with its own diagnostic theories and treatment protocols that have been in continuous use for thousands of years. Other treatment methods in this system include: dietary and lifestyle practices, exercise such as Tai Qi and Qi Gong, and clinical Chinese herbology.
Licensed acupuncturists (L.Ac.) in Virginia, as well as nationally, are highly trained practitioners whose graduate education is in Oriental medicine and who undergo extensive and comprehensive training at schools that are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (See: http://acaom.org), which establishes policies and standards that govern the accreditation process for acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs.. The current professional standard for education in this field is a 4-year masters degree, which includes clinical training with supervision for the entire program, after which graduates are required to pass national board exams (See: http://nccaom.org, the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) before applying for licensure.
For national Oriental medicine education and certification requirements, see: www. nccaom.org.
In Virginia, Licensed Acupuncturists are licensed under the Board of Medicine. Continuing education units approved by NCCAOM are required to maintain acupuncture licensure in Virginia.
Medical doctors in Virginia compete 200 hours of training prior to adding medical acupuncture to their practice. This is referred to as medical acupuncture, consisting of 120 hours of didactic education and 80 hours of clinical training. An additional 20 hours and two years of clinical acupuncture practice are required to meet eligibility for Full Practice Membership in the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture. AAMA affirms the necessity of 50 hours of approved continuing education in acupuncture every three years for continued membership. See: http://medicalacupuncture.org.
While other healthcare practitioners, such as physical therapists and chiropractors, may use adjunct modalities that are referred to as “dry needling,” or “trigger point dry needling,” this is in fact acupuncture, albeit with a little as 20-54 hours of training, obtained from for-profit continuing education seminars. These programs feature primarily classroom or online education with no clinical internship training, and no measure or national standard of competency by which to practice acupuncture. Of note, chiropractors are currently required to complete 200 hours of training prior to adding the acupuncture modality to their practice, but now many are circumventing that requirement by becoming “certified” in “dry needling.” See: http://acupuncturesafety.org, or http://www.csap.us.
See the chart below for more information regarding education and training for acupuncture:
As with any healthcare provider, the relationship you have with that person is key to the healing process.
It is important to take time to find the right practitioner for you, with whom you are comfortable sharing your health history, so that you can work together to set goals for your treatment. Each practitioner has something unique to offer to the patient.
Don’t hesitate to ask a practitioner if they offer complementary consultations before beginning a treatment plan. This will help you determine if the practitioner is someone you will be comfortable working with. Upon request, I provide 20-30 minute complementary consultations in my office which is an opportunity for you to ask questions pertinent to how we will work together.
Questions? Please ask!