Acupuncture Education and Certification
Acupuncture is a treatment modality originally described in writing by Chinese practitioners over 3000 years ago. The historical texts handed acupuncture down to us in terms of the traditional Taoist understanding of nature, and the language of acupuncture treatment may still contain references to yin, yang, qi, etc. Acupuncturists are still gaining a scientific understanding of how this as well as other traditional Chinese modalities may benefit patients. This knowledge base sprung from outside the confines of conventional veterinary education, and is not generally taught in veterinary schools. The training required to practice acupuncture is therefore a post-graduate endeavor, and various certifications now exist to document that this training has been received.
Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist (CVA)
Currently, 3 main introductory training courses prepare veterinarians to practice acupuncture. These courses are offered by:
- International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (www.ivas.org)
- Chi Institute (www.chi-institute.com)
- Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians (MAV) Association (http://www.science-of-acupuncture.com/)
- Human schools of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Graduates usually go on to earn the title of OMD, or Diplomate in Acupuncture or Herbal Medicine, and can become state licensed, earning the title L.Ac. Veterinarians may enter these programs for acupuncture training, but graduates of these programs who do not have a D.V.M. are prohibited, in most states, from practicing on animals.
Completion of an introductory course is not enough to earn a CVA – these courses prepare the candidate to take an examination offered by IVAS. Successful completion of the required case reports and the examination leads to certification with a CVA.
Fellowship of the AAVA (FAAVA)
Fellowship status in the AAVA is an advanced certification in veterinary acupuncture and related therapies (such as herbal medicine) conferred by the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture (AAVA). AAVA models the advanced Fellowship requirements on those of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP), and as a stepping stone on the way to eventual acceptance of acupuncture by the AVMA as a Board Specialty discipline. Advanced certification is not required of AAVA members, and not obtaining this certification does not affect one’s ability to practice acupuncture and related therapies.
An eligible candidate must be a Graduate of a college of veterinary medicine approved or accredited by the AVMA, be an AAVA Active or International Member, have at least five years practice experience in veterinary acupuncture, OR three years of veterinary Acupuncture experience and an advanced acupuncture degree (i.e. OMD, L.Ac), and the applicant must document fifty (50) hours of Veterinary Acupuncture and/or Traditional Chinese Medicine CE accumulated during the last five (5) years. The examination involves questions covering aspects of Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine as well as Medical Acupuncture.
Master’s Degree in TCVM
The master’s degree is conferred through the Chi Institute of Chinese Medicine and the China Southwest University. It requires 36 credit hours of training, including an introductory acupuncture course followed by advanced training (including herbal medicine, Chinese food therapy and tui-na) and additional coursework taken in China. It also requires the candidate to design and conduct a clinical trial in TCVM. This degree is focused towards the methods of traditional Chinese medicine rather than medical acupuncture, and takes at least 2 years to complete.