You’re looking for an acupuncturist. You launch your browser and type Acupuncture or Traditional Chinese Medicine Philadelphia into the search field. Enter. Pages and pages of results load as you wonder: what should I be looking for? How do I know which acupuncturist is best for me? Who has the most extensive education and training? Who can offer a full range of treatment options including both acupuncture and herbal medicine?
There are certain steps you can take to make the most informed decision. Licensing requirements vary widely by state and most, but not all, acupuncture schools combine acupuncture and herbal training. So, it is important to know what you are looking for. Licensed Acupuncturists have credentials that use the term L.Ac. or M.Ac. In Pennsylvania, practitioners who have studied Chinese Herbal medicine have taken at least an additional 700 hours of training. Even if you are not necessarily interested in taking herbal medicine that distinction and commitment to additional training, education and specialization is important. Coursework expands entry level training so that more complex principals in the diagnosis and treatment of disease from a Chinese medical paradigm are explored.
While people who have completed this class may be registered with the State as an L.OM. or a licensed Practitioner of Oriental Medicine, it’s ideal to find a practitioner that has gone the “extra mile” and has become Board certified in Oriental Medicine (Dipl. O.M. NCCAOM). This entails not only passing the National Board for Foundational Theory, Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal medicine, but also passing the Board certification for Western Biomedicine. This distinction shows a professional commitment not only to Chinese medicine but to having a comprehensive grasp of Western medicine principals, treatments and appropriate referrals.
The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) is the premier certifying organization recognized by the Oriental Medical profession. A non-profit established in 1982, the mission of NCCAOM is to establish and promote standards of competence and safety in acupuncture and Oriental medicine. NCCAOM certification is a professional distinction and it requires 60 hours of additional study every four years. While not required, my passion for Chinese Medicine and providing the best treatment and health outcomes for my patients has driven me to study an average of 150 hours each year – or 600 hours every four years (compared to the minimum requirement of 60 hours). These studies have included two-year advanced courses in Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture. They have also included studies in chronic autoimmune conditions, care for patients undergoing cancer therapy and dermatology, while also going deeper and integrating into my specialty of pain management.
Selecting a practitioner with a NCCAOM certification in Oriental Medicine ensures that you will be treated with the most comprehensive clinical expertise and the highest level of professional integrity. Oriental Medicine is more than needles and herbs. Mastery of the curriculum requires years of advanced coursework and clinical practice. The Diplomate of Oriental Medicine has demonstrated competence in nutritional principles, biomedicine, herbalism and Oriental medical theory in addition to acupuncture. OM certification expands the acupuncturist’s diagnostic and treatment resources, allowing her to create the most comprehensive, individualized healing plan for each client.
Sharon Sherman holds a NCCAOM certification in Oriental Medicine, placing her nationally among the highest trained in the art and science of acupuncture and the Chinese Medical model, as well as the prescribing of Chinese herbal medicine.