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The criteria of top acupuncturist or best Chinese medicine practitioner may be very different from different perspectives.

Some years ago, “Washingtonian” Magazine published 100 “Top Acupuncturists”  in the Greater Washington DC area each year.  However, many people did not agree with its criteria.  After  it  stopped to publish such “Top Acupuncturists” names, it suggests patients to search NCCAOM website (the national board for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, www.nccaom.org) to see a qualified acupuncturist.

Some organizations may suggest the medical doctors (MD), Chiropractors(DC), or orthopedics (DO) who also learns acupuncture courses (200-300 hours or so) as the “Top acupuncturists” or the best Chinese medicine practioners.  In a few states of United States, the law made by MDs even requires patients to see MDs, DCs, DOs. “acupuncturists”.   If an acupuncturist has not with MD or DC, DO license, he or she will be illegal when he/she helps a patient.

Some patients may more concern about providers’ professional background, such as whether the provider had enough training in acupuncture or Chinese medicine, and whether the provider has experience in the field of patient’s condition, such as OB/GYN illness or disorder; However, some others may concern more about the affordable issue, it is not uncommon–some patients assume all acupuncturists or Chinese medicine practitioners had same quality in their training as long as they have license, and the patients may prefer to go the provider who charge patients less. Yesterday,  a friend told me her aunt had seen an acupuncturist 20 miles away, instead of saw a very good acupuncturist nearby, the only reason is this acupuncturist fee is slight higher than that very far away. From this patient’s perspective, the criteria for good acupuncture or Chinese medicine provider should include in considering the patient’ affordable issue first (sometime, some patients may have a habit to negotiate with the provider, no matter the price is reasonable or not).

Of course, the expensive practitioners don’t always belong to the top or the best. We do see some acupuncturists with less training or less experience charge patients much. The reason patients like to pay and feel they are good/best may be related to such providers have a good clinic environment or a good patient-relationship.

And, some practitioners’s offices are in high-end building in city downtown, they do charge patient much, but they are- not necessarily-the best or the top doctors.

However, acupuncture or Chinese medicine is a healthcare profession.

From the view of professional, acupuncture is one of specialties in Chinese medicine, which is totally different from the conventional medicine (i.e. MDs, etc.).  It means, a MD, DC or DO may be a “Top specialist” in their own medical scope, if they haven’t enough training in Chinese medicine, they actually could not practice or give patient any advice in such field.  It is very often to hear from a  patient, who was told by their MDs, DCs, DOs the advises or comments in Acupuncture / Chinese medicine, “do” or “not do” such, such…… actually it is improper.

Passing NCCAOM examination and getting a certificate is one of basic requirements for practicing acupuncture / Chinese medicine, actually it is not the only criteria for best or top acupuncturist or Chinese medicine practioner.

The “Top Acupuncturists” or the “Best Chinese Medicine Practitioners” (Oriental Medicine Doctors- OMDs, Chinese Medicine Doctors- CMDs, etc) should have:

(1) Best education in acupuncture/Chinese Medicine: 3 years training in acupuncture (1400 to 1800 hours) is acceptable, but if the practitioner had 4,000 to 5,000 hours college/University training (such as in China), even better. Such providers may have master or doctor degree in Chinese Medicine / Acupuncture.

(2) Have post- college training and extensive clinical experience, such as internship, residency (in Chinese medicine hospital), etc.  And, every sub-specially, if the doctor/practitioner also had apprenticeship with a famous Chinese medicine doctor, it will be a very good additional training.

(3) If possible. the provider has some specialty training, esp.hospital experience, such as Chinese Internal medicine, Chinese pediatrics, Chinese OB/GYN, Chinese dermatology, Chinese neurology, Chinese ENT, Chinese Ophthalmology, acupuncture (it is a specialty, also be used in other specialty as a therapy), etc.

(4) If the practitioner also had training in conventional medicine, even better. Because such practitioners  understand how to bridge the Chinese medicine with western conventional medicine, help patients much broader and deeper.

(5) Treating patient likes brother and sister. Nice to patient and have a good communicating skill.

This is from patients’ interest.

By Dr. Arthur Yin Fan, CMD, PhD, LAc.

If you want to read more or schedule an appointment with Dr. Fan online, you could visit the home page of www.ChineseMedicineDoctor.us.

McLean Center for complementary and Alternative Medicine, PLC

8214A Old Courthouse Road, Vienna, VA 22182.

(703)499-4428.

For best or top acupuncturists or Chinese medicine doctors in Washington DC, or Northern Virginia, you could read the info in the link below.

http://www.ratemds.com/filecache/topTen.jsp?city=WASHINGTON&sid=8

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Q:  What is his training background?
Chinese Medicine for 8 years. Studying both TCM and Western medicine, he earned M.D.(5 years’ program, included in one year internship in a university Hospital) and Ph.D. degrees(3 years’ program) in TCM. He took an additional year of training in Western neurology, and completed a six-year residency integrating Western medicine and TCM. 

After his school and hospital training, he also had extensive apprenticeship training under Dr.Zhou Zhongying, one of five top TCM doctors in China(TCM internal medicine), Dr.Xia guicheng, a famous TCM gyn doctor in the world, etc.

Q: What is special about Nanjing University of (Traditional) Chinese Medicine? 
A: Dr.Arthur Yin Fan’s medical school is called Nanjing University of (Traditional) Chinese Medicine is one of five flagship TCM schools in China (as well as in the world). It is the World Health Organization’s Acupuncture training center and traditional medicine collaborating center. 

Q: Comparing to the same specialty’s education, what is the merit educated in Chinese school?

A: Currently in United States, the schools in Oriental medicine offer acupuncture program(master degree,  which is basically 1,200 to 1,700 hours during 3 years, and Oriental/Chinese medicine (master degree) maybe 2,500 to 3,000 hours in 4 years. Some schools also offer additional program for doctoral degree, such as DAOM, etc. (some schools have a special program offering internship in a China’s hospital).  Such students, if pass NCCAOM exams, they could apply acupuncture license to practice acupuncture and Oriental/Chinese medicine, currently although NCCAOM issues the certificate in Oriental Medicine, there is no Oriental doctor license in most of states.

However, for those who already got MD, DC, DO degree, maybe only spend 200 to 300 hours in acupuncture, then could practice acupuncture (medical acupuncturists).  Such condition actually is not good for patients, because acupuncture and Oriental/Chinese medicine totally is another set of medicine; but the law makers in medicine are mostly graduated from the conventional medical schools. And, most researches, such as  from NIH, in acupuncture have been conducted under conventional medicine methology, which may give patients a incorrect cognition.

The education in China for Chinese medicine is 5-6 years’ program, about 4,400 hours and one whole year in hospital as an intern. So, for the education alone, such program may be better than that in United States.

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