Complementary and Integrative Medicine/
Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine Practitioner
Acupuncture/Oriental medicine (AOM) is an ancient and empirical system of medicine based on the concept of qi (pronounced “chee”), which is usually translated as energy.
AOM treatments identify a pattern of energetic imbalance within a patient and redress that disharmony through a variety of therapies that may include acupuncture needling, cupping, acupressure, exercises such as tai ji and qi gong and Chinese herbal preparations.
AOM is virtually free of the side effects that accompany many modern medical procedures. As a relatively inexpensive form of treatment, it is especially appropriate for reducing health care costs. The success of acupuncture today is due to its efficacy, remarkable safety record, cost-effectiveness and significant public demand.
The prospects for finding a good job in this field are excellent for the foreseeable future. AOM is one of the most requested forms of treatment in the fast-growing field of complementary and alternative medicine and holds promise as one of the key modalities to be used in current and future integrative medical settings. A 2005 Institute of Medicine report noted the widespread use of complementary and alternative medicine in the United States, with patients making more visits to complementary and alternative medicine practitioners than to primary care physicians. Annual out-of-pocket costs for complementary and alternative medicine exceed $27 billion.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine is the official journal of the Society for Acupuncture Research. It publishes observational and analytical reports on treatments outside the realm of allopathic medicine, including clinical care concepts and case reports. The readers of this publication are largely health care professionals and scientists who are interested in integrating complementary and alternative medicine therapies into their patient care protocols and research strategies.
AOM practitioners can create financially supportive careers with flexible work schedules that are rewarding on many levels. Moreover, an AOM career offers the opportunity for a more balanced lifestyle for practitioners and their clients. AOM practitioners look at their patients from a holistic perspective, taking into account the patient's physical, mental and emotional health. Practitioners are able to spend time developing a collaborative relationship with their patients, assisting them in maintaining their health and promoting a consciousness of wellness.
The settings in which AOM practitioners work vary from multidisciplinary clinics and hospitals to private practice. Other career options include teaching, translating, publishing or working with an herb or acupuncture supply company.
About Health Care Careers
Note: The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine reviewed this career profile.
Twenty Years Later: What I Know Now That I Wish I Had Known Then
Part 1: How to Attend College Without Going into Too Much Debt
Part 2: Anxiety and Its Impact on Performance
Questions to Ask Before Making a Financial Investment in Your Health Sciences Education
The Impact of Private Loans on Choice of Repayment Strategy
Part 2: Do’s and Don’ts When Applying to College
Your Credit and Your Health Sciences Career
Part 3: Accreditation Matters
How to Finance Your Health Sciences Education
Personal Responsibility: Financing Your Health Sciences Education
How to Manage a Career Change (Part 2)
Applying for Financial Aid (Part II)
Are You Credit Ready and Credit Worthy?
Why Diversity Matters in the Health Professions
Start Preparing for Your Health Care Career in High School
The Power of Prevention
Reconciliation Act of 2010 Includes Significant Student Aid Provisions
Healthcare Reform 101
Keep Past Mistakes from Limiting Your Future Health Care Career
Top 10 Reasons to Pursue a Health Career Now
Specific academic requirements and programs may vary from one acupuncture/Oriental medicine (AOM) college to another, but in general, a bachelor’s or associate’s degree (or the equivalent, with 60 semester units from an accredited college or university) is required for admission into an AOM program.
The length of training at most accredited AOM schools is three years for acupuncture and four years for the combination of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. The Oriental medicine program includes the study of Chinese herbology.
A number of schools offer multiple language tracks that include Chinese and Korean, in addition to English.
Over 50 colleges nationwide offer graduate training in AOM at the master’s degree level, which is the entry-level degree for the profession. Specialized clinical training at the doctoral level is also available. There are approximately 8,500 students in U.S. AOM schools and about 2,000 graduates annually. The student bodies are very diverse with a variety of ethnic backgrounds and a high number of women.
Graduates from accredited AOM schools, or schools that are in candidacy status for accreditation, are eligible to take the national certification examinations offered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). With the exception of California, NCCAOM’s examinations are accepted or required in the states that license the practice of AOM. Currently, AOM is regulated by a formal practice act in 44 states and the District of Columbia. Licensure is the most common form of practice authorization in these states.
Search for funding opportunities related to this career
Search for enrichment programs related to this career
Search for academic degree and certificate programs related to this career
Complementary and Integrative Medicine
Last updated: July 18, 2016
©2012 American Dental Education Association