Many acupuncture schools require prospective students to meet their basic prerequisites prior to admission. Typically, students must acquire at least two years of traditional undergraduate training. Many students attend a community college and work toward an associate’s degree prior to entering acupuncture school. Most acupuncture schools provide three-year programs for acupuncturists, and it usually costs between $6,000 and $12,000 per year for supplies and tuition. Accredited schools are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Students attending accredited acupuncture schools may be eligible for federal student financial aid, including Pell grants and student loans.
An accredited acupuncture school meets the standards set forth by the ACAOM (Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). Accreditation is important not only for eligibility for student aid, but also because it guarantees that a school meets high educational standards and provides the type of education that it promotes. Accredited acupuncture schools provide an education that adheres to the recommended guidelines set forth by the ACAOM.
The curriculum at a school is an important element to consider when choosing a school. The curriculum should be based around natural healing and include detailed instruction in TCM (traditional Chinese medicine). Some curriculums may also include Korean, Japanese, and Western methods of acupuncture. A holistic approach to health should be promoted by the courses offered in the curriculum, which provides methods to treat chronic disorders, disease, injuries, hypertension, asthma, anxiety, addiction, and depression, among other health issues.
Acupuncture schools that provide students with practical experience and clinical opportunities to apply their knowledge are recommended. There is a huge difference between learning about acupuncture through classroom instruction and the application of the practice on human beings. Having an opportunity to practice through a hands-on approach enables students to apply their education and acquire technical skills that will assist them when looking for employment after graduation. Additionally, hands-on opportunities allow students to develop a style of communicating with and diagnosing patients and their health issues and concerns.
One last element to consider when looking at acupuncture schools is the national examination passage rate and the licensure rate of its students. A school’s quality may be gauged by the success of its students. The more graduates who become licensed acupuncturists a school has, the higher the quality of education and preparation received by the students. Thirty-two states in the United States require acupuncturists to pass a national examination and meet state guidelines in order to practice lawfully within their boundaries. Guidelines include getting an appropriate education, acquisition of hands-on experience, and achieving other standards such as clean background checks, good references, and passage of state exams.
Acupuncture schools may also prepare a student to specialize in a particular field of acupuncture. For instance, accupuncturists may choose to focus their practice on pain treatment and management, geriatric issues, pediatric conditions, or post-operative recovery, to name just a few options. Many licensed acupuncturists also partner with chiropractors to form successful practices.