Licensing and Education To become a licensed acupuncturist (L.Ac), acupuncturists must possess a Masters degree in either Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine from an accredited college or university. Masters degree programs for acupuncturists take three to four years to complete, and students are required to demonstrate proficiency in both a classroom setting and in a clinical environment in order to graduate. In addition, to be licensed all acupuncturists must pass board exams in both Eastern and Western medicine.
Dry Needling and Acupuncture Due to the growing popularity of acupuncture and increased awareness of its effectiveness, there are a number of other types of medical professionals who have added acupuncture into their practices. These include chiropractors, physical therapists, medical doctors, and massage therapists. These practitioners do not need a separate license to practice acupuncture, and generally take a weekend course to learn the basics of the technique. For physical therapists, this practice has come to be called dry needling, as acupuncture is not within their scope of practice. For chiropractors and medical doctors, the term acupuncture can legally be used.
Due to the very limited training these practitioners receive in acupuncture, what they do is very different from what a licensed acupuncturist does. Most importantly, there is a far greater risk of serious side effects, as training in safety practices is not as rigorous for the weekend courses as it is when undergoing a multi-year intensive degree program. We strongly recommend that if you are interested in trying acupuncture you go to a licensed acupuncturist.
Our Resident Acupuncturist Marni Adhikari of Wisdom Traditions Acupuncture is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist. She received her Masters in Acupuncture from the Maryland University of Integrative Health in 2009, and was board certified in 2010. She maintains her board certification, which must be renewed every four years, through continuing education classes.
Looking for a qualified acupuncturist somewhere else? If you're interested in finding a board certified acupuncturist in another area, you can search the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine website at nccaom.org. If you'd like to find a practitioner with similar training to Marni Adhikari of Wisdom Traditions Acupuncture, you can search the alumni database at the Maryland University for Integrative Health.