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International and American Examination in Context

Little Hover Commission 2004

Regulation of Acupuncture: A Complementary Therapy Framework

Most other California health professionals are licensed based on a national examination. However, the acupuncture profession is still 47 relatively new in its evolution within the United States and the profession in California has evolved somewhat differently than it has developed nationally. Just as different nations take different regulatory approaches to acupuncture, herbs and other modalities of traditional Oriental medicine, so do different states.

One significant difference among states and nations is whether acupuncture and herbs are regulated as separate skills and professions. That basic decision is one factor that drives the breadth and depth of an examination.

The National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine uses a modular approach to accommodate the varying strategies of states and to enable professionals to take the acupuncture examination only, or the modules of herbs and massage. This approach has led to at least 17 states accepting the NCCAOM for licensure. As the profession evolves in America, a national examination may become the norm.

In China, Japan, Australia, England and Canada, it appears that acupuncture and herbs are recognized as independent specialties that are frequently, but not always, practiced together and examined and regulated as such. In America, some states require knowledge of Western science and practices as prerequisites to entering the acupuncture profession, while others see acupuncture and traditional Oriental medicine as alternative and complementary, but not inclusive of Western ideas. For states like New Hampshire, which requires a degree in nursing or science prior to entering the acupuncture profession, the examination goals do not include testing Western knowledge, but the traditional Oriental practices.


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