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Is there a recognised international qualification for acupuncturists?

Q. I'm looking at acupuncture courses, I'm currently studying an ITC in massage and anatomy, physiology and pathology. I have been looking at travelling to China to study but am finding info about transferable qualifications tricky to find. Is their a recognised international qualification for acupuncturists?

A. Sadly, there isn't an internationally recognised standard for acupuncture training, and what you may find is that there is an almost infinite variety of training courses in China which can range from 3 month intensive training to seven years full degree and beyond. A problem we have often had in the BAcC is finding out from Chinese practitioners who apply to join the BAcC exactly what their training entailed, so difficult can it be to get hold of course transcripts which map onto the requirements for entry into the BAcC.

The situation is certainly better than it used to be because of the standardisation of training around the style rather confusingly called TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) This become a kind of universally acknowledged system because there will always be TCM associations in every country, and most will operate some form of reciprocal recognition with courses in universities with which they have close ties. This doesn't apply to the BAcC which has always been a broad church and has people who practise all sorts of Traditional East Asian systems as well as TCM, but the ATCM, another major association, does have links with particular Chinese courses.

Generally speaking, though, most professional associations have accreditation processes which offer automatic entry to graduates whose teaching institutions they recognise, and then operate an individual application route for people who trained elsewhere. The BAcC, for example, set up the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board over twenty five years ago, an independent body which accredits courses, and the standards which it applies for courses in terms of content are used to assess the training of individual applicants. You can read about how we do this here

and you will find the Board's site interesting, not least because it has useful information for prospective students and training standards but also because it lists accredited institutions, ones that have met its standards. It might be worth considering whether any of these might meet your needs. It's certainly cheaper than travelling to China, and has a level of quality assurance built into it. The worst outcome would be to find that after the expense and inconvenience your training wasn't adequate. This sounds improbable, but we have seen it happen, and it's heartbreaking to have to tell someone that after two or three years work they have to start again.

You may find, by the way, that some of your current A & P training may count towards the acupuncture training and reduce the

Of course, this is all predicated on the assumption that you want to join a professional body! There are almost no legal requirements for acupuncture treatment in the UK other than that the practitioner must be registered or licensed under local authority skin piercing laws. Some local authorities check whether their training is bona fide, but most don't, and if we find it difficult to assess the quality of someone's training it would be equally, if not more, hard for someone who hasn't any background in Chinese medicine. The only other requirement would be adequate insurance.

Anyway, we hope that this answers your question and gives you a little more background.

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