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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Credentials and Certifications of Alternative Practitioners

Jan 29, 2014 05:03PM ● By Rebecca Freeman

When seeking an acupuncturist or practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine, look for certification by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). They award a diploma, or special certification of extra study and testing beyond the minimum requirements in their field, making them a diplomate, for instance, in the study of Chinese herbs or Oriental medicine.
The diplomate of acupuncture designation is awarded when an applicant passes a five-hour written examination on acupuncture theory and practice, acupuncture point location, biomedicine and clean needle technique. This can be done after an applicant completes a master’s level program that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).
The master’s level curriculum is a three-to-four year program which may or may not include Chinese herbology. The program includes approximately 700 hours of Oriental medical theory, diagnosis and treatment techniques of Oriental medicine, 660 hours in a clinic setting and 360 hours in biomedical clinical sciences.
The diplomate of Chinese herbology designation is the same, with the inclusion of a written examination on the foundations of Oriental medicine, Chinese herbology and biomedicine, after completing a program accredited by the ACAOM. The Chinese herbology programs usually include an additional 450 hours of study.
A diplomate of Oriental medicine is the combination of diplomate of acupuncture and diplomate of Chinese herbology.
Other designations are described in the Florida statutes. As long as a person is licensed or certified by Florida statute 457 F.S., they may use these designations., which do not denote any higher education or experience by themselves:
LAc: licensed acupuncturist
AP: acupuncture physician
DOM:  doctor of oriental medicine
RAc: registered acupuncturist
A master’s degree in Oriental medicine requires comprehensive study in the history of Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, biochemistry, pathology, anatomy, nutrition, Western medicine and other therapies. The education and training, as well as the receipt of national licensure from the NCCAOM and competency verification, is quite different from the acupuncture instruction of other healthcare professionals that typically receive 100 to 300 hours of abbreviated training.
Rebecca Freeman, AP, MAOM, Dipl.Acupuncture, Dipl.Chinese Herbology in Shalimar, holds master’s degrees in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. 
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