A Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac.) has approximately 2,000 hours training in Acupuncture, Western Medicine and Oriental Medicine.
Licensed acupuncturists have a 3 year master’s level diploma from a school approved by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. After passing an exam by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, they are awarded the Diplomate in Acupuncture designation. This is the standard for licensing in most states.
To find a National Board Certified acupuncturist in your area, go to http://www.nccaom.org.
However, medical doctors or chiropractors may also use acupuncture. But, they have only 200-300 hours of training. They are not licensed acupuncturists. This limited amount of training limits the types of conditions they may treat effectively.
Licensed Acupuncturists may treat a broad range of health issues, including chronic disease, pain, internal medicine and rehabilitation based on Oriental medical theory. They look at imbalances in the body through the holistic lens of one of the most time tested methods on Earth. Chinese medicine is thousands of years old. The Neijing, a foundation textbook for acupuncturists, is as old as 475 BC.
By contrast, modern medicine is not even 200 years old. Having said that, modern medicine has much value for our times. It is unparalleled in treatment of acute care and serious disease.
Oriental Medicine was developed from a model of studying health and developing ways to support health and prevent disease. Western Medicine studied disease and developed methods to treat symptoms. Both systems have value and compliment each other.
When seeking an acupuncturist, be sure to inquire about the number of hours of training the acupuncturist has. Also, ask how long a treatment session lasts. When comparing value, if you only inquire about the fee you may be disappointed to find out that the $50 acupuncture session lasts 15 to 20 minutes vs. a slightly higher priced session lasts an hour and includes a more comprehensive approach.
There is no substitute for a practitioner actually spending quality, unhurried time with you. Maybe they can legally insert a needle, but are they treating only a symptom or taking the time to educate you, understand your imbalances and plan a session accordingly? There are plenty of MD's, DC's and L.Ac's who take time and there are some that don't.
Get to know your acupuncturist before you decide who is the best fit for you. Check out their website and talk with them on the phone. Realize that even within the various levels of training, there are also many different styles of acupuncture. One approach may be a better fit for you than another. The only way to know is to have some treatment and pay attention to your results.
Acupuncture is gaining much attention these days for good reason; it helps people on many levels. Enjoy your journey into a well traveled mode of health care.