In my time as an Admissions officer I have encountered a lot of commonly held misconceptions about various degrees, perhaps even more so when it comes to the field of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). So here are some basic facts about Acupuncture school that some individuals, such as perspective students, patients, other healthcare providers, as well as the public in general, may not be aware of.
1) It is a Rigorous Master’s Degree
One of the chief misconceptions about Acupuncture is the amount of schooling required. People are often shocked to learn that a Master Degree is required before they may sit for the National Boards exams. What’s more, this is not your standard two year Master’s. AOMA’s program is 203.5 quarter credits (equal to 135.6 semester credits), typically takes four and a half years, and involves a total of 2970 instructional hours. Of those, 161.5 of the credits, or 1962 hours are Didactic and 42 credits, 1008 hours, are clinical.
Many of those obtain their Master’s go on to take bridge programs such as our DAcOM, becoming Doctors of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Indeed there is a push within the profession as a whole to require doctorates for licensure in the United States.
2) Amount of Biomedicine
More and more TCM is being taught as an integrative medicine, working alongside other healthcare providers with the best interest of the patient in mind. To this end AOMA’s program covers a wide range of biomedical topics including Medical Biochemistry, Pathophysiology, and Biomedical Pharmacology among others.
3) Hands On
Like the training for any other healthcare profession, acupuncture programs require a lot of clinical and hands on laboratory hours. As mentioned earlier, 1008 of AOMA’s 2970 instructional hours are clinical, this translates to 34%, one third of the program. This process begins with Clinic Theater I in which students are exposed to the diagnostic methods of TCM including the techniques and application of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine by observing professional treatments performed by a member of the AOMA faculty. This culminates in a full clinical internship, in which the student, as a supervised intern, performs the intake, diagnosis, and treatment of patients.
4) Strength of Faculty
Our faculty is well versed in a wide range of clinical specializations, academic backgrounds, and published research. At AOMA there are 37 faculty members, including 29 Licensed Acupuncturists, 7 Medical Doctors, 2 Ph.D.’s and 6 faculty members who hold both an MD and a Ph.D. AOMA Graduate School is also the home of the only Chinese herbal pharmacologist Ph.D. in the United States. About two thirds of our faculty bring to the table at least a decade of tenure and many years of training and practicing TCM in China.