So you’ve decided you’d like to try out acupuncture or at the very least learn more about what it is. Now what? You find a Licensed Acupuncturist!
A Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) is a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) that has met the requirements for licensure by the state governing body. Those requirements do vary by state, but most states require acupuncturists to go to a graduate school for 3-5 years (typically a minimum of around 1800 hours of school including hands-on clinical training) and pass board exams developed and maintained by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). In Texas, all acupuncturists have to pass 4 NCCAOM board exams on Foundations of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture with Point Location, Biomedicine, & Chinese Herbology.
The education and subsequent board exams aim to produce Licensed Acupuncturists with a deep understanding of TCM theory, anatomy and physiology, acupuncture point locations & their effects on the body, mind-body exercises such as tai chi and qigong, nutrition, and Chinese herbal formulas. Licensed Acupuncturists are also taught and tested on Western pharmaceuticals, their effects on biochemistry and how these drugs may interact with each other, foods we eat or herbs we prescribe.
The education that a Licensed Acupuncturist earns prepares them to approach their patients from a holistic perspective; the ultimate goal being that they can take in all of the symptoms and health history of their patient, and give them treatments and recommendations to live a long and happy life. Most acupuncturists keep up with modern research to continue to make sure they are providing the most accurate and effective advice to their patients as well.
If you’d like to know more about acupuncture, getting a treatment from a L.Ac. or becoming an acupuncturist, I recommend visiting the NCCAOM website (http://www.nccaom.org/). It has a database of practitioners as well as information for licensure.