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acupuncturist education, training & credentialing

Acupuncture and Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM) treatments are safer and more effective when received from, and practiced by, fully-trained professionals. Since the passage of Colorado's Acupuncture Practice Act in it has been possible to determine those fully-trained and licensed professionals by looking for the credentials "L.Ac." or "Licensed Acupuncturist" for therapeutic needling and holistic health care options. In Colorado acupuncturists are licensed by the Department of Regulatory Agencies, Division of Professions and Occupations

When deciding on a practitioner, credentials from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) are important. The passage of the NCCAOM National Board Exams is easily recognized proof of full training (strict training standards are a prerequisite to sit for the exams) and is used by most states in the U.S. as qualification for state licensing of acupuncture professionals. Dipl. O.M. stands for Diplomate of Oriental Medicine (Acupuncture and Herbal Certification), or Dipl. Ac., Diplomate of Acupuncture. In this website see Find an Acupuncturist to help you find a fully-trained Acupuncture or Traditional East Asian Medicine Specialist in your area.

To be eligible to sit for the NCCAOM national exams requires documentation of the following minimum training requirements from an accepted accredited school (see chart below). To maintain NCCAOM certification diplomates must re-apply every four years and complete minimum requirements in continuing education in core competency or a combination of continuing education and professional enhancement. 

Levels of training required for other professions that use acupuncture needles in Colorado are as follows: 

The State Board of Physical Therapy created a rule (Rule 211) in 2012 declaring that Physical Therapists are allowed  to practice “dry needling” with acupuncture needles. The only requirement is a 46-hour training and no separate registration with DORA.

Chiropractors (D.C.s) in Colorado may use acupuncture as an adjunct to their chiropractic practice after 100 hours of training and passing an exam approved by the Chiropractic board. Their certification is by the Chiropractic board and not by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) unless they choose to sit for the NCCAOM exam.

Medical Doctors (M.D.s) and Doctors of Osteopathy (D.O.s) have no minimum training requirements to practice acupuncture in this state. They are called “Medical Acupuncturists.” Although it is completely optional, doctors may complete a minimum of 220 hours of formal training in Medical Acupuncture in order to become members of the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture.

(Thank you to the Kansas Association of Oriental Medicine for providing the template for this page.)

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