Know Your Acupuncturist

Practitioners whose educational focus is in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine receive approximately 80% of their training exclusively in this field, and undergo an extensive clinical internship averaging 3 years. Other health-care practitioners may use acupuncture as an adjunct to their primary practice. While all of these practitioners also have training in western medical sciences, this chart is designed to illustrate the varying levels of acupuncture training generally undertaken by health-care professionals.

Amount of TrainingPractitioner Designations

A minimum of 1800 hours in Acupuncture
Includes: Acupuncturists Chinese medicine practitioners.i

A Licensed Acupuncturist (L.Ac) has obtained a 3-4 year master's level degree or diploma from a school approved by ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine), and in Arizona must be licensed by the Arizona Board of Acupuncture Examiners.

A Diplomate in Acupuncture (Dipl.Ac) has successfully completed examination by the NCCAOM (National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine) which is the national standard used for licensing in most states.

Licensed Acupuncturists can treat a broad range of health issues, including chronic disease, pain, internal medicine, rehabilitation and prevention based on Oriental medical theory.

300 hours or less
Includes: Medical doctorsii, Chiropractors, Naturopaths

Typically this is a medical doctor, osteopath, naturopath, or chiropractor who uses acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy to their primary therapeutic training. Adjunctive Acupuncture is commonly used for pain and basic ailments.

i - Acupuncture/Oriental Medical practitioners are able to obtain a D.A.O.M. Doctoral degree from an ACAOM-approved clinical doctoral program. Some states also designate the licensing title (non-degree) as D.O.M. Or D.Ac, or Acupuncture Physician. Licensed Acupuncturists may have also obtained an O.M.D., Ph.D., or D.Ac. For non-extensive post graduate training (from unaccredited programs). Thus, it is important to ask where such a title was received.

ii - Some medical doctors and chiropractors are trained and licensed in both western and Oriental medical acupuncture. Acupuncture should only be administered by a practitioner who has specific training in this field, due to risk of improper needling, inadequate understanding of Oriental medical diagnostic procedures, transmission of disease, imbalancing of energy, or ethical violations.

Always ask your practitioner about her or his credentials. For further information please talk to your practitioner or go to National Institutes of Health: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine