Choosing a Practitioner

Not all practitioners have the same qualifications. Here are some things to look for:

Acupuncturists are licensed by the state they practice in, with each state having different rules and regulations. In Massachusetts, acupuncturists are licensed by the Massachusetts Board of Medicine.

Massachusetts regulations allow acupuncturists to use the designation “LicAc,” indicating that they are licensed acupuncturists. To become a licensed acupuncturist, one must complete training at an accredited institution, in addition to meeting other requirements. In Massachusetts, there are no official designations for herbalists, but for acupuncturists to practice Chinese herbal medicine, they must complete an accredited herbal training program.

Additional qualifications an acupuncturist might hold are a Master’s of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAOM), indicating a master’s degree in acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. A Master’s of Acupuncture (MAc) is a degree with a specialty in acupuncture alone (though a MAc might also have a diploma in Herbal Medicine, as well). Not all acupuncture schools offer master’s degrees, so many acupuncturists have a diploma in acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine.

Another important qualification to look for is National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) diplomat status. The NCCAOM administers the national licensing exam that most states use as a qualification for licensure. They also administer an herbal licensing exam. The NCCAOM grants diplomat status to those who have passed the acupuncture exam, indicated with “DiplAc” and for the Chinese Herbal Exam with “DiplCH.”