Before you choose an acupuncture school, find out what factors to consider.
Acupuncture may have originated in China thousands of years ago, but it’s finally gaining momentum in the Western world.
While the traditional school of thought is that acupuncture balances energy, Western doctors often identify acupuncture as a way to treat pain because the needles stimulate nerves and muscles.
Whether you subscribe to the Eastern or Western philosophy, you’ll get an education in both. Acupuncture schools address how these methods coexist.
As you search for the right program, look closely at course offerings. Some schools will address Western science more heavily than others.
Acupuncture Schools: Program Length and Accreditation
As you map out your journey, there are several considerations to ponder. You’re about to invest your time and money into an advanced-level degree so you’ll want to ensure the school is accredited and in a location that suits your needs.
How Long is Acupuncture School?
If you have a bachelor’s degree—which you’ll need in order to enroll—a graduate-level acupuncture program lasts three years. However, some schools will combine a bachelor’s program and acupuncture graduate studies into one. In this case, you’ll only need two years of undergraduate course work.
Acupuncture School Accreditation
The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) approves master’s degree and master’s-level diploma programs in acupuncture.
What does accreditation mean to your education? Quite a bit. Not only does it ensure your program meets strict standards, it’s also necessary if you plan to apply for federal financial aid. Plus, you’ll need to graduate from an accredited school in order to take state and national licensing exams.
According to ACAOM, there are more than 60 schools in the United States which have been granted accreditation or have pre-accreditation status. As far as college campuses go, that’s a pretty small number.
This brings up another interesting question. Should you relocate for acupuncture school?
Acupuncture School Campuses
Acupuncture schools are specialized which is why you won’t find one on every corner of every city. In fact, some states don’t even have an accredited acupuncture school. Below you’ll find a list of the states that have accredited or pre-accredited acupuncture schools, according to ACAOM.
|New Jersey||New Mexico|
|New York||North Carolina|
Don’t see your state? If you’re committed to studying acupuncture, you may have to consider relocating.
Here are some tips on how to narrow down your school choice.
- Make a list of four or five schools to visit based on location. Do you want to move far away or stay closer to where you’re from?
- During your visit to different acupuncture schools, get a sense of the campus environment and what the curriculum focuses on.
- Think about your hobbies and way of life. Does a certain location fit your lifestyle more than another?
Classical Five Elements Acupuncture School
Although acupuncture is part of the larger Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sphere, there are different approaches within acupuncture to consider. One is the Five Elements tradition.
The Five Elements—fire, earth, metal, water and wood—and what they symbolize are included in just about all acupuncture curriculums. However, there are some schools that design their program around this specific theory.
But first, what is Classical Five Elements Acupuncture?
There are two ways acupuncturists view the elements. Patients may have an imbalance in one element or there may be a need to evaluate all five elements and find balance between them.
Students who learn Five Elements are taught to examine the patient and treat the causative factor, or CF.
You’ll learn how to find imbalances in the body by using your senses. It takes deep knowledge and skill. You’re evaluating a person’s overall energy, not their symptoms. Five Element acupuncture is intended to treat the mind, body and spirit – not just physical ailments.
Patients and practitioners who lean toward the Five Elements argue that it provides a more holistic experience because the entire mind, body and spirit is incorporated into treatment.
Whereas other forms of acupuncture rely on physical symptoms of a patient to guide treatment, Five Elements acupuncturists spend more time evaluating a client by observation and discussion. Anecdotal evidence shows the Five Elements method is more commonly used to treat emotional turmoil than standard TCM.
Just about all acupuncture schools teach the fundamentals, Chinese history and related Western medicine topics.
Course topics typically overlap in both TCM and Five Element programs. You’ll find these classes at both types of schools:
- TCM Theory
- Medical terminology
- Anatomy and Physiology
Acupuncture courses with a Five Elements focus delve deeper into how an acupuncturist’s senses should be used. Students are taught early on to home in on a patient’s skin tone color, sound of voice and odor.
Five Elements acupuncture programs are designed to strengthen a student’s ability to make good judgements and create strong rapports with patients. Keen observational skills are required.
Acupuncture Clinical Training
To become a skilled acupuncturist, it takes more than just classroom instruction. Students are required to fulfill a certain amount of clinical hours—it varies by state—before they can graduate with a master’s degree in acupuncture.
While you may be intimidated at first, clinical training offers enormous benefits. You’ll be able to meet and treat patients from different backgrounds who suffer from various types of illnesses or injuries.
Acupuncture clinical training also teaches students how to gather information, create treatment plans and maintain medical records. The first step is usually observation; faculty members treat patients while students watch the process. As clinical training progresses, students will take a hands-on approach. Supervised by a practitioner, students become full participants in a patient’s appointment.