The State of Washington and Oregon license acupuncture, but may vary in their inclusion of other Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) components (e.g., herbal medicine) in the licenses they issue. There are two organizations which help ensure the quality and training of Acupuncturists in the United States.
The two organizations are the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) and the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). The federally recognized ACAOM accredits schools that teach acupuncture and TCM. About one-third of the states that license acupuncture require graduation from an ACAOM-accredited school. The NCCAOM offers separate certification programs in acupuncture, Chinese herbology, and Oriental bodywork along with national written exams for each category in TCM.
There are two types of training an acupuncturist can receive. They can either train in Acupuncture or in Oriental Medicine. Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine programs share similar curricula, with one important difference: Oriental Medicine programs include the study of Chinese herbal medicine. Acupuncture programs do not. Since herbal medicine educational requirements are substantial, the Oriental Medicine programs tend to be longer in terms of credits and hours than Acupuncture programs. Training programs usually run 3 to 4 years, including the internship.
Washington requires training from an ACAOM-accredited school, training in clean needle technique, CPR and successful completion of NCCAOM’s national written exams in Point Location, TCM Theory, and Western Biomedicine.
My training includes completion of the four year Oriental Medicine program at an ACAOM-accredited school. In addition, I have passed the NCCAOM’s national written exams required for the State of Washington.
After completion of the training program and written exams, the practitioner can submit to the state for licensing. I am currently licensed in the State of Washington and practice in Ridgefield, WA.
Some states have listed Acupuncturists as primary care physicians. Washington in not one of them.
There are a number of requirements a practitioner must complete in order to accept insurance. The first step is usually to hold a current, valid license in the state where they practice. The process of being accepted by the insurance carrier as a practitioner is called credentialing and can take as long as six months. I am in the process of being credentialed by a number of insurance carriers and will update this site when those steps have been completed.