Arthur Fan (edited from Kath Bartlett, MS, LAc artilcle in

Your doctor, chiropractor, physician’s assistant or even physical therapist may say to you, “I do acupuncture”. What they really mean is that they do neuromodulation (referring to  the technique’s reputed ability to modulate, enhance or diminish, the effect ofneurotransmitters) or trigger point needling (needling local points of nerve pain in muscles). Often these practitioners will call what they do “medical acupuncture”.These practitioners have between 100-300 hours of training in acupuncture (often completed at UCLA seminar). They get a brief overview about acupuncture meridians, learn a few acupuncture points, and receive instruction about how to insert an acupuncture needle. While trigger point needling may have some benefit in pain relief, these practitioners have no training in, nor are they practicing Oriental medicine. They are using neuromodulation as an adjunctive therapy to their primary practice.

Licensed Acupuncturists (LAc), whose educational focus is in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, receive approximately 80% of their training exclusively in this field, and undergo an extensive clinical internship in Oriental medicine averaging three years.1



Certified/Physician Acupuncturist Licensed Acupuncturist

  • Certified physician, chiropractor or dentis t([medical) acupuncturists (CAc) with 100 – 300 hours of training
  • Training which is often comprised of home study
    and video-taped lectures
  • Minimal clinical experience in acupuncture or no
    actual patient treatments before certification
  • Not required to complete the national
    certification examination to prove competency in
  • Not required to regularly complete continuing
    education courses

Licensed Acupuncturist

  • Licensed acupuncturists (LAc) with an average of 2,700 hours of master’s-level training
  • Master’s level, on-site training at a nationally accredited school or college of acupuncture
  • Hundreds of hours of clinical experience and at least 250 actual patient treatments before licensure
  • Required to pass the national certification exam in acupuncture in order to become licensed (NCCAOM board certification)
  • Required to do regular continuing education to maintain national certification

Amount of Training in Acupuncture

1905-2000 hours in Acupuncture 2625-3500 hours in Oriental Medicine

  • Licensed Acupuncturist
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine Comprehensively-trained  Acupuncturist
  • Oriental Medicine Practitioner
  • Oriental Medical Acupuncture

Many Acupuncture and Oriental schools exceed 2000 hours. Colleges in California must meet a minimum required 3,000 hours in Oriental Medicine.

Oriental medicine includes acupuncture, Chinese herbology and dietary therapy, tui na massage, tai qi and qi gong meditative exercises.

Typically a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) or Registered Acupuncturist whose primary training is in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and has:

a) Obtained a 3-4 year master’s level degree or diploma from a school approved by ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for
Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine)*, and

b) Has been board certified in Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine (Diplomate: Dipl Ac or Dipl OM) upon successful examination by the
NCCAOM (National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine), the national standard for licensing in most states.

Uses diagnosis and treatment techniques based on Oriental medical theory to treat a broad range of health conditions, including
chronic disease, internal medicine, pain, and disease prevention.

300 Hours or Less

  • Medical Acupuncture
  • Neuromodulation
  • Meridian Balancing/Therapy
  • Chiropractic Acupuncture
  • Naturopathic Acupuncture

Typically a medical doctor, osteopath,naturopath or chiropractor who uses acupuncture as an adjunctive therapy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that medical doctors have 200
hours of training to know when to refer to a more fully-trained Acupuncturist or Oriental Medicine practitioner.**

Commonly used for pain management

100 hours or less

  • Medical Acupuncture
  • Chiropractic Acupuncture
  • Detox Tech
  • Dry Needling, or Myofacial Trigger points Needling, Trigger Points Acupuncture

Typically  a chiropractor or Physical therapist dry needling

detoxification technician

Detox Techs must be under the supervision
of a Licensed Acupuncturist (LAc) and are
limited to 5 point on the ear.

Used for pain management or addiction &
detoxification through auricular acupuncture.