What Makes Someone an Acupuncturist?

Many different modalities now offer tiny versions of acupuncture services.  Physical Therapists call trigger point manipulation with acupuncture needles “Dry Needling.”  Physical Therapists and Chiropractors call the soft tissue therapy of Gua Sha “The Graston Technique.”  Some Massage Therapists now offer cupping as part of their treatment add-ons.  Chiropractors practice “acupuncture” but usually have only taken a limited training on how to use the points to treat pain. 

Your licensed acupuncturist can offer you access to all of these and so much more as their training allows them to differentiate what conditions most benefit from each therapy and more importantly, how to combine these treatments to provide long-lasting results.  The acupuncture points are not laid out like a simple road map with a point for headache here and a point for stomachache over here.  It’s a much more complex weaving of acupuncture point mechanisms that depends on the provider choosing the best combination of points to achieve desired healing. 

So, how is an acupuncturist trained?  All acupuncturists start with a Bachelor’s degree and then apply to a Chinese Medicine Graduate School program.  The student completes either a 3 ½ year master’s degree or has the option to do additional study for a doctorate degree.  The Chinese Medical School curriculum encompasses not only learning the acupuncture points but also the pharmacy of Chinese Herbal Medicine.  There are also courses on Chinese medicine theory, western medicine and pharmacology, and additional modalities like tui na massage, gua sha, moxibustion, and cupping as well as a multi-year clinic internship. 

After an acupuncturist earns their graduate degree, they sit for the National Licensing Exam which gives them the credentials L.Ac. for licensed acupuncturist.  They then need to pass the requirements for their individual State Licensing.  Here in NC, acupuncturists complete 40 hours of Continuing Education every 2 years to maintain their license. 

Some acupuncturists go on to specialize in different areas like we have at Triangle Acupuncture Clinic.  In both our Raleigh and Chapel Hill locations we have providers that have advanced certifications in pain management, women’s health, cancer care and mental/emotional needs.  If you’re interested in learning more about what your acupuncturist can offer you such as cupping, dry needling, gua sha or herbal medicine just ask us!  We’re happy to showcase all that Chinese Medicine has to offer.  

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