What does it mean to be qualified?

In acupuncture and Chinese medicine in Australia, like most health professions, there is no national registration. This scheme will come into play in 2012. Currently, Victoria is the only state that has a registering body for acupuncture & Chinese medicine. What then does this mean for the other states? And how can patients be assured that their practitioner is fully qualified?

As i practice Acupuncture in New South Wales i will only talk about that state, however, this is relevant to all states of Australia. In NSW anyone can call themselves an acupuncturist, there is, unfortunately no title protection (which will hopefully change in 2012). Fortunately patients are able to be reassured that their practitioner is properly trained if they are accredited by the leading governing body: the Australian Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA www.acupuncture.org.au). For a practitioner to be accredited by the AACMA they must have completed an appropriate full time 4 year + degree (or equivalent) at one of the recognised courses / universities around Australia. This is not the same, however, for other natural health associations who may accept practitioners who have completed short courses etc.

Being "qualified" in Chinese medicine, however, does not just mean that the practitioner has a degree. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine is a very complex, style defined art and science. It requires long hours and most importantly mentor-ship or guidance under a more experienced teacher. This is the tradition of Chinese medicine that has been in existence for over two millennia - the degree / undergraduate study are mearly the base foundations for building one's expertise in Chinese medicine.

This also extends to those that have been practicing before degrees or diplomas were around (those with 25 + years of clinical practice). Due to Australia's long standing relationship with East-Asia we still have many practitioners that have extensive "clinical experience" and are therefore more than qualified in Chinese medicine. It is with great shame, however, that others are using and abusing the title, such as Doctors, Physios, Chiropractors, Osteos etc who may do a 6 week or 6 month course in needling or "dry needling as some put it. This is not acupuncture - it is a false representation of Chinese medicine. It is a ridiculous as an acupuncturist doing a 6 month course in surgery and calling themselves a surgeon - it should not and would not happen.

Chinese medicine is a long standing method of primary health care. It is a time tested system that uses it's own medical paradigm to treat the body and mind. Ensure that when you seek treatment you do so by finding an appropriately qualified and experienced practitioner.



David White Classical Acupuncture www.classicalacupuncture.com.au

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