Ultimate Guide for Choosing an Acupuncture School

In short, the decision to expand your education is huge–one that takes careful and considerable thought.

Whether you’re seeking a new journey, embarking on a second career, or fulfilling a calling to help others, ACTCM at CIIS graduates are some of the most respected practitioners advancing Chinese Medicine globally.

Top 10 Must-Haves in an Acupuncture Education

  1. Accreditation
    Not all acupuncture colleges are created equal. Finding an accredited school ensures a quality education* with an ability to obtain licensure. You would be surprised at the number of acupuncture programs that do not have regional or national accreditation. ACTCM at CIIS is programmatically accredited by ACAOM the Acupuncture and Oriental Commission and regionally accredited by WSCUC. Regional accreditation also means that some coursework could be transferable to other institutions and may be applied to earn other degrees.


  2. A Focus on Integrative Medicine
    A doctorate in acupuncture should equip the graduate with a well-rounded, whole-person, approach to medicine. ACTCM is leading acupuncture education by offering the first accredited first professional doctorate that focuses on integrative, collaborative care. This doctorate is available for students who have no prior training in acupuncture and Chinese medicine.Additionally, the 2015 merger with California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), a university dedicated to mind-body-spirit education paves the way for greater possibilities in research, coursework, and clinical collaborations that blend psychotherapy and Chinese medicine. The union also expands ACTCM students’ access to a diverse community of academics, healers, and clinicians in the San Francisco Bay area.


  3. Highest Pass Rates on Licensure Exam
    High pass rates show an institution has equipped students to transfer their classroom education into a professional setting. ACTCM at CIIS graduates consistently post the highest scores on national and California board exams. In 2016, ACTCM first-time test takers scored a 100% pass rate on the CA Acupuncture Licensing Exam. This statistic is unprecedented for a large group of students.


  4. A Diversity of Clinical Opportunities
    Hands-on experience within a clinical setting is an integral part of your education. ACTCM at CIIS provides an on-site Acupuncture and Herbal clinic staffed by student interns that treats more than 17,000 patients each year. ACTCM at CIIS students participate in clinical theatre in their first semester by observing patients and participating in the interview, diagnosis process, and treatment plan with faculty members.Students also have unique opportunities to intern at local hospitals such as Oakland’s Highland Hospital and community-based clinics in San Francisco and the greater Bay Area. These sites serve as a demanding training ground while also providing affordable or free services to our communities.


  5. World Renowned Faculty
    A university that maintains a faculty with a wide breadth of experience and expertise allows prospective doctorates to thrive. ACTCM at CIIS consists of both Western- and Eastern-trained practitioners who have experience working in integrative medicine and hold the understanding necessary for dealing with today’s health problems. ACTCM at CIIS faculty have more than 20 years of experience as teachers and practitioners.


  6. A Vibrant Community/Professional Network
    An active alum community and professional network can be one of your most valuable assets after graduate school. Our graduates work internationally shaping acupuncture and health care policy. ACTCM alums create integrative health clinics and centers across the U.S., work alongside doctors in China who help them to deepen their understanding of unique acupuncture techniques, teach at universities, and create successful private practices.Our community of students are a large part of what makes our school experience unique. ACTCM’s rigorous medical training program attracts a high caliber of diverse, international students who are unlike any other peer group because of their compassion, focus, and high academic standards.


  7. A Strong Foundation in Herbology
    An acupuncturist should have a comprehensive knowledge of herbal remedies. At ACTCM there is a special focus on the herbal curriculum which includes herbal theory and identification and function of more than 500 herbs. Students have access to the herbal lab/clinic that features a full-service herbal dispensary and a student-run herbal garden containing over 150 types of herbs and plants that hail from China, Japan, Korea, Europe, and North and South America.


  8. Partnerships with China
    Acupuncture education should include experiencing the birthplace of Chinese medicine by providing an opportunity to study abroad. Immersion in the home of acupuncture provides deeper context and a point of reference for a medical system that is based on both Western and Chinese healing practices.

    ACTCM offers a two-week study abroad in in Hangzhou, China; a three-month scholarship studies in Henan, China; and postgraduate training opportunities with leading Chinese herbal company Tong Ren Tang.


  9. Outstanding Student Resources
    A doctorate degree is a huge undertaking that can only be done with ample support. ACTCM provides a student-mentorship program, free tutoring, weekly lunch presentations, scholarships, one of the largest TCM library collections, and career workshops to aid in student success both in school and in practice after graduation.


  10. A Community Focused on Holistic Health
    The value of finding a school in an environment where inspiring mentors and cutting-edge internships is undeniable. ACTCM at CIIS is located in San Francisco, a diverse, vibrant city that attracts trail blazing healers and intellectual, entrepreneurial thinkers that are exploring ground-breaking models of integrative care.

* U.S. Department of Education, “What is accreditation?” http://ope.ed.gov/accreditation/FAQAccr.aspx (March 15, 2015)

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