Choosing a Chinese Medicine School

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Choosing which school to attend for your Chinese medicine training is a big decision. Here are some things to consider:

1. What tradition of Chinese medicine is taught at the school?

There are many traditions of Cinese medicine and different approaches to mastering the art. There’s Japanese acupuncture, Traditional Chinese medicine, the 5 Element school of thought, Oriental Medicine acupuncture, facial or cosmetic acupuncture, medical acupuncture, etc. Do a little research on the kind of acupuncture you wish to learn as they are not all the same.

ACOS re-integrates traditional Chinese medicine as taught in the People’s Republic with a pre-cultural revolution, 400 year-old family tradition. The courses at ACOS meet and exceed the minimum requirements for the North American standard of education in the field of Chinese medicine, particularly in the areas of CM classics, history and self- cultivation.The programs at our school include the acquisition of the Chinese language, which deepens the ability for students to understand and research Chinese medicine in its original world view.

2. What kind of Program are you interested in?

Do you wish to start a practice and see clients once you are trained? Do you want to add additional tools to other healing work you are already doing? Or, do you want to learn about Chinese medicine for your own health?

There are programs at various acupuncture schools to suit all interests. There are three, four and five year programs training Chinese medicine professionals. There are weekend courses for doctors and nurses or physiotherapists who wish to add acupuncture to their existing practice. And there are seminars, workshops and websites for those people just wanting to learn a bit about acupuncture or Chinese medicine for their own knowledge.

At ACOS we offer a three-year acupuncture program, a three year herbology program, a four-year practitioner of Chinese medicine program (including acupuncture and herbal medicine) as well as a five-year Doctor of traditional Chinese medicine Program. See the course descriptions for more information

3. What is the language of instruction?

There are Chinese medicine schools all over the world teaching in virtually every language. Being a science of the Orient, many of the ancient writings about acupuncture are in the Mandarin language and Chinese characters.

At ACOS, our students are taught in English and also learn Mandarin relevant to Chinese medicine. This language component is taken in the first year of study, and many teacher’s notes and instructions are provided in both languages throughout the course. ACOS is one of only a few acupuncture schools in North America to offer this exposure to the Mandarin language and we feel it deepens each student’s understanding of the origins of Chinese medicine.

4. Who are the teachers?

The instructors at the school you choose to attend will make all the difference. Choose a school that has instructors who have worked in the field, see clients in a clinic setting, and can comment on the practice of acupuncture. Many people may understand Chinese medicine theory but the art and skill that comes from seeing clients daily in a clinic setting cannot be learned from a book. Choose a school that has instructors who are experts in their field and who have real life experience in the courses they are teaching.

ACOS is fortunate to have many high level instructors, from both Chinese medicine and biomedical backgrounds, including TCM practitioners, chiropractors, counsellors and Qi Gong masters. Each instructor is an expert in their field and most currently practice their profession alongside their teaching schedule. Some of our instructors teach in the mornings and then see clients in the busy ACOS outpatient clinic in the afternoons, where students are able to observe and learn about subjects discussed in the classroom.

5. How much does the program cost?

Program costs are variable, depending on your course of interest. Financial Polices can be found here, and further information can be provided by contacting our registrar directly

6. What kind of learning do you do best?

It’s important to know what kind of learner you are and in what kind of environment you learn the best. Do you prefer to work at home, from books or online? Do you prefer to be in a classroom, guided by an expert teacher and joined by classmates? Do you prefer to go to school at night and on weekends so you can still work during the day?

ACOS offers on-site instruction two beautiful heritage buildings with experienced instructors and small class sizes. There are components of your training that can be done online or through self-study but the majority of our programs are delivered in-person, on campus, with teachers to answer your questions and classmates to study along with. The nature of learning a healing art like Chinese medicine requires a teacher on hand to guide a student.

At ACOS, there are class lectures, classroom clinics, needling labs and time spent in clinical observation. This experiential and hands-on learning environment sets up our graduates to go into clinical practice with the experience and knowledge to treat clients effectively.

7. What kind of learning environment do you desire?

Just as it is important to know what kind of learner you are, it is also important to know what kind of learning environment you do best in. Do you prefer small classes, quiet study areas and green space to relax in? Or, do you prefer group learning, music and social interactions, games and challenges to help you remember information?

The campus at the ACOS offers different environments for study to suit the needs of our students. There is a school library for quiet study, a student lounge for more lively discussions over lunch, spacious classrooms for you to stretch out and make yourself at home in, a school bookstore and herbal dispensary for on-campus purchases, and a plethora of restaurants, healthy food options and quaint coffee shops nearby for re-fueling.

At ACOS our classes are small, allowing you complete access to your instructors with your concerns and questions. If you ever find yourself in Nelson come take a tour of the school campus.


8. When do I start needling and working with patients?

Students studying acupuncture are always very keen to begin to practice needling and see clients in the clinic. At ACOS, clinical experience starts in observation and through learning fundamentals. As the course progresses so each student’s skills develop as techniques are perfected.

Our students are welcome to begin practicing their needle technique on paper towel rolls or oranges in their first semester at school, in the second year they are guided through needling lab, and in the third year they begin to practice on members of the public, under supervision. This progressive course provides a solid foundation of point location and needling skills.

9. Where is the school located?

The Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences is located in Nelson, in the Kootenay mountain-range in the southeast corner of the province of British Columbia in Canada. Nelson is a beautiful heritage town on the banks of the Kootenay River, and is known for its laid-back lifestyle, abundance of natural beauty, proximity to world class skiing, biking, hiking and fishing, alternative lifestyles, art, music and health food.

Many famous, expert, expat, interesting and unlikely people make Nelson their home. This makes for a very interesting, colorful and accepting community.

By car, Nelson is three hours from Spokane, WA, eight hours from Vancouver, BC, four hours from Kelowna, BC and six hours from Calgary, Alberta.

10. What is required in your home country, state or province to practice Chinese medicine after graduation?

There are different requirements for licensing of acupuncturists in every country, state and province. Please research the rules in the area in which you wish to practice upon graduation.

In British Columbia, graduates of acupuncture schools must write and pass licensing exams overseen by the CTCMA of BC. Students wishing to practice acupuncture in the U.S. should check with the NCCAOM about licensing requirements.

The Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences has graduates working in many different countries around the world, in several U.S. states and in all provinces of Canada. An ACOS education will set you up to work anywhere in the world you wish.