Choosing an Acupuncture School
Choosing which school to attend for your acupuncture training is a big decision. Here are the top ten questions to consider when choosing an acupuncture school:
1. What tradition of acupuncture is taught at the school?
There are many traditions of acupuncture and different thought systems surrounding the art. There is Japanese acupuncture, TCM acupuncture, 5 Element acupuncture, 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 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?
It is important to be clear about what kind of acupuncture program you are interested in.
Do you wish to start a practice and see clients once you are trained? Do you just want to add the tools of acupuncture to other healing work you are already doing? Or, do you just want to learn about acupuncture for your own health and to understand what your acupuncturist is doing with you during your treatments?
There are programs at various acupuncture schools to suit all interests. There are three, four and five year programs training acupuncture 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 the Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences we offer a three-year, fast tracked, 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 covering acupuncture, herbal medicine and all the tools of Chinese medicine.
3. What is the language of instruction?
There are acupuncture 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 Nelson’s acupuncture school, our students are taught in English and Mandarin with the Mandarin language taken the first year of school and many notes and teacher’s instructions in both English and written characters. ACOS is one of only a few acupuncture schools in North America to offer a Mandarin language component and we feel it deepens the study and understanding of acupuncture and 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 acupuncture 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.
The Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences is fortunate to have many high level instructors, including Dr. Warren Fischer, Dr. TCM, Academic Dean, and Juan Huang, Dr. TCM and PhD, China. Both Dr. Fischer and Dr. Huang teach in the mornings and then see clients in the busy ACOS outpatient clinic in the afternoons. Here is where classroom learning meets real life experience. Dr. Huang may discuss a possible treatment in class during the morning and you may see an actual example on a client that afternoon in the clinic.
5. How much does the program cost?
Program costs are as variable as the students wanting to study acupuncture. At ACOS, tuition starts at $204 a credit with the average year having 50 credits.
There are less expensive schools out there but ACOS is considered the ‘creme de la creme’ of acupuncture schools. If you are looking for excellence in education the Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences is the place for you.
There are different program rates depending on the program you are interested in.
6. 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 Academy of Classical Oriental Sciences 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.
7. What kind of learning do you do best?
It is 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?
Nelson’s acupuncture school offers on-site instruction in a beautiful heritage building with experienced instructors and small class sizes. There are components of your acupuncture 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 acupuncture 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 with Doctors of Chinese Medicine. 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 right out of school.
8. When do I get to start needling and working with patients?
Students studying acupuncture are always very keen to begin to practice needling and are anxious to get started seeing clients in the clinic. At ACOS we understand this desire to get started but like the Karate Kid movies, we feel there is much work to be done, “Daniel Son”. There are skills to be developed and techniques to be perfected before jumping into needling a patient or, in the case of the Karate Kid, before actually fighting in a karate match.
Our students are welcome to begin practicing their needle technique on paper towel rolls or oranges in their first semester at school but we keep the excitement of needling patients until the third year. Students needle each other in second year needling labs and perfect their needling techniques for student clinic the following year. Although this sometimes creates frustration for students wishing to get started needling earlier, we feel that it is a grave error to jump into the powerful practice of acupuncture without 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. Nelson may be in the mountains but with international airports only a few hours away you can be anywhere, anytime!
10. What is required in your home country, state or province to practice acupuncture 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.
Best wishes choosing your acupuncture school. Maybe we will see you in the halls of Nelson’s acupuncture school in the future!