Due to the nature of the field, on-campus training is a necessity when seeking a Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine degree; therefore, 100% online degree programs will not allow for the proper and intensive training you deserve. However, if you already have a master’s degree and have been practicing for at least five years (experience requirements depend on your school), some schools offer online programs to help the working professional transition into a doctoral degree, although this is not a requirement at this time. But, if you do have an interest in additional education, these types of programs are usually offered online.

Is there a better way to treat pain? Perhaps, a patient does not like the thought of surgery or taking prescription medications to mask the pain. In the realm of alternative medicine, the possibility of becoming an expert in acupuncture and oriental medicine may be of interest to you.

What is Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine?

Acupuncture involves placing intradermal needles at specific body points to alleviate pain, treat illnesses, or treat emotional and mental disorders. They also treat migraines and allergies and assist those who are trying to lose weight or just need a rejuvenation, as they suggest dietary changes and incorporate the use of herbs. Acupuncture is also used to treat depression, anxiety, and stress.

The technique is designed to balance hot and cold principles in the body to redirect energy flow throughout. You will need to be aware of previous medical conditions and treatment results to accurately diagnose and create a treatment plan using acupuncture. Acupuncturists must have steady hands, good listening, communication skills, and the desire to help those in need.

Your “scope of work” will be defined by your state’s laws, however, therapies such as cupping, therapeutic massage, and exercise, moxibustion, herbal therapy, acupressure, and electroacupuncture, in addition to, injection and laser therapy may be permitted. Some states allow for the treatment of animals within the field of acupuncture.

What Types of Acupuncture Can I Specialize In?

Acupuncture is primarily an ancient Chinese practice as we know it today. Other styles include Korean acupuncture, which focuses on the hand and auricular acupuncture, which concentrates on the ear. French acupuncture works along with meridian patterns, and Japanese acupuncture specializes in varying needling techniques.

Do I Need a Doctorate Degree to Practice Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine?

Typically, a master’s degree is required to practice acupuncture in the United States, however, earning a Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine degree will add to your credentials and set you apart from the others, demonstrating your dedication and commitment to the field. Generally, a doctorate degree in this field is primarily for those who wish to advance their skills or pursue a teaching career. As always, check with your state’s regulations for up-to-date educational requirements.

There are several degree options to consider, such as the Doctor of Acupuncture (D.Ac.), Doctor of Acupuncture, and Oriental Medicine (D.A.O.M.) or the Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (D.A.C.M.) credential.

What is the Difference Between the DAOM, the First Professional Doctorate, and a Master’s Degree in TCM?

The DAOM program is a professional program that should enable you to not only to increase your knowledge but also improve the skills you already have and develop new ones. The DAOM is different from a Master’s degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine in many ways. The Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine offers:
• Specialization in TCM Pain Management and other related fields
• Increased collaboration and integration with Western medicine practitioners
• Greater depth and advancement in TCM knowledge and skills
• Better focus on critical-thinking skills especially when it comes to diagnosis, analysis, decision-making and problem-solving
• Case-based and problem-based learning approach
• Opportunity to conduct a lot of research and use own findings into one health care decision-making processes
• Collaboration with other experienced practitioners

In many ways, DAOM is a more complex and advanced way to learn about acupuncture and other western medicine practices. It offers the ability to acquire precision, and specialize in the field that you feel is most beneficial for your patients. When it comes to medical practices, the learning process never really ends, and DAOM offers knowledge of the highest degree of complexity.

How Do I Earn My Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Degree?

First and foremost, locate a program that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). Your doctorate degree program could take two to four years to complete, depending on your program, and is a combination of clinical and instructional training.

Prerequisites for entering a doctoral program will require a master’s degree, typically, a Master of Science in Acupuncture. If you are working towards a transitional doctorate degree, you will need previous work experience.

Coursework in acupuncture and oriental medicine degree program includes studies in therapeutic techniques and medical equipment, bodywork therapy, meridian theory, functions and indications, clinical strategies and methodologies, as well as, the pathophysiology of pain management, advanced oriental and herbal medicines, along with, point location and needle manipulation. You will need to be familiar with human anatomy to diagnose and treat patients accordingly. Your program should also cover the important precautions regarding infection control and safety. You should learn about proper medical recordkeeping, too.

What Are the Typical Requirements for Admission to the DAOM Program?

The Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program is a clinically focused postgraduate degree program leading to a clinical doctorate degree, the DAOM. Graduates are positioned as leaders in the field as specialized practitioners skilled in the treatment of chronic and more complex conditions, as well as potential teachers of future generations of practitioners. Below you will find a list of typical requirements needed to enter the DAOM program. Please note that those can vary between Universities and Colleges offering the program, so it is always best to double-check them.

1. Graduation from a candidate or accredited program in Oriental Medicine, or the international equivalent.
2. Applicants without a master’s degree in acupuncture and oriental medicine can be considered for admittance if they have a minimum of ten years of documented experience and formal college training in acupuncture and oriental medicine.
3. You should be in good standing at the last educational institution attended.
4. Proven English competency (for foreign applicants) as demonstrated by passing a chosen test, usually an online TOEFL test.

When you have completed all of the requirements, then you are most likely to get admitted to the course without much trouble. The formal knowledge and experience open doors here, and will be more than handy throughout the course. Don’t worry if you don’t have 10+ years of experience, if you possess a master’s degree, you will acquire enough practical knowledge to be able to perform at the highest level.

What Kind of Career and Salary Can I Expect From My Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine Degree?

Acupuncturists are primarily self-employed; however, they may work closely with physicians who advocate alternative medicinal techniques. Acupuncturists can also be found in a clinical or hospital setting.

The average salary for an acupuncturist can vary greatly depending on experience, location, and specialization. Most salaries range from between $49,094 to upwards of $74,530 or more annually. This field can expect a job growth rate of 17% between 2014 and 2024.

Other career opportunities related to this field include that of a chiropractor, occupational or physical therapist, athletic trainer, or massage therapist. In addition, you may want to consider a career in teaching or research, with your D.A.O.M. degree. If you enjoy sales, perhaps a position working with natural herbs or an acupuncture supply company would interest you.

You should choose your form of practice based on the level of experience and specialization, as well as the needs of the area that you wish to work in. Before you establish your career as a DOAM after graduation, make sure to conduct research to look for the optimal option of helping as many people as you can, and making decent money on the way.

Do I Need a License to be an Acupuncturist?

Most states do require licensure to practice acupuncture, except for a few states. Each state regulates its own requirements meaning that they define the scope of work that is allowed for the acupuncturist to do in their practice. For example, most states require certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). This exam focuses on your knowledge of oriental medicine, as well as acupuncture. You must graduate from an accredited school (by the ACAOM) to qualify to take the NCCAOM exam. In addition, some states require that you pass the Clean Needle Technique Exam; and some states require you to be a medical doctor or chiropractor first.

Periodically, re-certification is usually necessary and will require continued education. You will need to check with the state you wish to work in to ensure proper licensure.

What Schools Offer Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine degrees?

There are many properly accredited schools that offer a Doctor of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine degree programs throughout the United States. Below are a few to consider: the Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine, which is located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, offers a D.A.O.M program, as does the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in Portland, OR. Also, if you are in the Austin, TX area, check out the AOMA Graduate School of Integrative Medicine.

If you wish to transition your master’s degree into a doctoral degree, you may want to consider the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine at California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Atlantic Institute of Oriental Medicine also offers a transitional degree. Most programs of this type are conveniently provided by an online format to allow practicing adults to continue working while earning their doctorate credentials.

Final Thoughts

These days, acupuncture and oriental medicine have become an acceptable and desired form of alternative treatment and has earned its place in modern medicine. More people than ever try to look for alternatives to medication and surgeries. The increasing need for treatment calls for more professional and in-depth knowledge in order to take good care of your patients. Extend your learning journey, become an expert in your field, and help others by earning your D.A.O.M. degree today!