There are a lot of healthcare practitioners using acupuncture needles in their clinics that have very little, if any, training in traditional, authentic acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Many chiropractors, medical doctors, and physical therapists may be using these tools, and on the surface of things the vast majority of the population sees no difference between what they are doing and what someone trained in traditional Oriental Medicine is doing in the clinic. That's why I chose to write this blog and outline a comparison among the training that each medical professional goes through, if they so choose, in order to become licensed to practice acupuncture. I mean no disrespect to any healthcare providers regarding their skills or qualifications. Ultimately, all that matters is that patients get the help that they need.
I graduated with a Master's Degree in the Science of Oriental Medicine, or MSOM for short. This means that during my graduate education I fulfilled at least 1,490 hours of clinical and classroom training in acupuncture and Western medicine, and at least 2,050 hours of clinical and classroom training in Chinese herbal medicine. After graduating, I then had to pass four national exams, which covered the fundamentals of Oriental Medicine, acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Western Medicine. Then, I was allowed to apply for my state license so that I could legally practice.
The American Board of Chiropractic Acupuncture provides national testing for chiropractic acupuncture. Licensed chiropractors are allowed to sit for the exam after completing only 300 hours of training in acupuncture, of which only 90% has to be onsite learning, while the other 10% may be completed via recorded lecture and at-home study. Their knowledge and skill regarding acupuncture only applies to treating conditions of pain, unlike an L.Ac (Licensed Acupuncturist) or LOM (Licensed Oriental Medicine Practitioner). who is able to treat a wide variety of conditions using acupuncture, bodywork, and herbal medicine.
Similar training requirements apply to MDs--300 hours of training with only 100 hours of practice time needed within 2.5 years. MDs are only required to apply for recertification of their acupuncture training every 10 years, whereas an L.Ac. or LOM must apply for recertification every 4 years.
Physical therapists learn "acupuncture" via online courses quite often. They can be certified to practice "practical acupuncture," a style of "dry needling" that is used solely for musculoskeletal disorders. Its focus is on finding and needling, often very aggressively, trigger points, neuromuscular points, etc. The Ohio Physical Therapy Practice Act does not require any additional training for PTs to practice this modality other than the very short 27 or 37 hour courses that are available. There have been multiple documented cases of PTs injuring patients during a "dry needling" session, most often causing pneumothorax (collapsed lung) or nerve damage.
I should point out that neither a lot nor a little training in any skill, acupuncture or otherwise, directly reflects the overall competency of an individual practitioner. Use your best judgment when choosing a healthcare provider for yourself and your family.
If you'd like to learn more about how traditional Japanese acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can help you, please contact me at 618-694-5189.
This page is intended to serve as a source for links to blogs and articles about acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine that both new and returning patients may find informative and/or entertaining. It is also where I will share information about the history, principles, and benefits of this awesome medicine.