An acupuncturist is a medical practitioner who uses alternative medicine to treat patients with physical issues. Acupuncturists use herbs and needles to treat ailments such as back pain and migraines. Acupuncturists must meet state requirements for licensure to practice the alternative medicine in the state. Acupuncture is a medical treatment that began in China thousands of years ago.
Accredited acupuncture programs may require candidates to complete undergraduate coursework as a prerequisite to entering the program. For example, the Acupuncture Massage College is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and requires students to complete 60 credit hours of undergraduate education to enter an acupuncture program. The student must complete a minimum of 30 credits in general education such as English, literature, history, art and sociology.
Many states allow licensed chiropractors or medical doctors to practice acupuncture without an additional license. Licensure requirements vary from state to state. For example, a Florida acupuncturist must complete 60 credits in a college before entering a three-year program in acupuncture. Acupuncturists in Hawaii must complete an acupuncture program of a minimum of 1,500 hours that includes clinical training and formal education. Acupuncture programs include courses on anatomy, safety, techniques with needles, pathology and the methodology of acupuncture.
States may require the acupuncturist pass a national examination for licensure. Candidates must submit an application to sit for the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Examination. The examination for licensure may include four separate exams consisting of 100 items each. The exams include Chinese Herbology, Foundations of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture with Point Location and Biomedicine.
States may require continuing education courses for licensed acupuncturists to renew a license. For example, Florida requires licensed acupuncturists to complete 30 hours of continuing education courses every two years to maintain licensure. The state also requires practitioners to complete specific courses such as HIV/AIDS coursework, medical errors and state laws.