Many of you have expressed interest in studying or becoming a TCM practitioner!
As a TCM practitioner, you could practice as an herbalist, an acupuncturist, or add great value to an additional degree of your medical profession. In the case of our founder, Zoey, she initially went for her degree in Western nutrition and then went to TCM school in New York City to become a TCM nutritionist! But the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination.
In America, there are several alternative medicine schools that provide degrees and courses for people interested in Chinese Medicine. Each state differs slightly and will have its own requirements and licensing exams. However, most states accept certification from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM), school plus certification can take as long as three to five years to receive.
Before applying to traditional Chinese medicine school, you'll need to have obtained a high school diploma or GED, and then a Bachelor’s degree or at least some college credits at an accredited school.
After you obtain your degree, you’ll need to think about going back to school for your Master’s in Chinese medicine. Be sure the school you're looking into is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). There are different types of Master’s degrees that you can get to become an acupuncturist. The best thing to do is contact the school that you want to attend and see what types of specialties they offer for what you want to do.
Some states require additional clinical hours, which means that you’ll be doing in-person training and working on real people, like how western doctors have residency. Once you start your degree, you’ll want to take classes in Oriental medical theory, Oriental herbal studies, and diagnosis and treatment techniques. Typically, depending on the state you intend to work in, you’ll have to take some type of clinical class, where you will get hands-on experience at your school. Currently, a Master’s degree is required to become a professional acupuncturist.
How long is schooling?
Different acupuncture schools will offer different degrees at this level with different names that reflect the focus of a particular program. Examples include:
- Master of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM),
- Masters of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (MAcOM),
- Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine (MSTCM) and more.
They take an average of 4-years to complete, although some programs can be completed in 3-years. Schooling plus certification can take as long as three to five years to receive.
ps. There are two major TCM schools in NY proper by the way, the New York College of TCM & Pacific College of Health and Science. Both have different flavors, styles, and both value different things. Kai went to NYCTCM and Zoey attends Pacific College of Health and Science. Please do your research, site visits and talk to current students!