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Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine | Legal Status and Licensure

Requirements to practice acupuncture in Washington

The State of Washington Department of Health has designated acupuncturists as health professionals under the title “licensed acupuncturist” (LAc). The profession of acupuncture is regulated by the department of health. Medical doctors (MDs), doctors of osteopathy (DOs), and physician assistants (PAs) may also practice acupuncture as part of their scope of practice with brief acupuncture education (typically 200 hours). They are not designated licensed acupuncturists (LAcs) unless they have similarly undergone the training and certification as outlined below.

Education requirements

Acupuncturists must graduate from a school that is accredited by either the United States government or by the National Accreditation Commission for Schools and Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NACSCAOM). An acupuncturist’s education must include at least 450 hours of training in Western sciences: anatomy, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry, pathology, western clinical sciences, hygiene and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Acupuncturists must complete a minimum of 750 hours of acupuncture study, including fundamental principles, diagnosis, pathology, therapeutics, meridians and points, and acupuncture technique including electroacupuncture. Clinical training must include a minimum of 150 hours of clinical observation and 720 hours of supervised practice. Acupuncturists must have applied over 400 treatments on at least 100 patients over the course of more than one year of their schooling. Acupuncturists must all demonstrate fluency in the English language as well. The major schools of acupuncture in Washington State are built around a three-year program, which requires extensive prerequisites.

Certification requirements

Washington currently requires that all acupuncturists have taken and passed the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) board examination. This examination is used by nearly all of the states regulating the profession of acupuncture. To ensure proper needling hygiene, Washington also requires that all acupuncturists receive Clean Needle Technique certification as approved by the NCCAOM.

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