Frequently Asked Questions about Acupuncture Training

Is Acupuncture Safe?

The risks of acupuncture are low if you have a competent, registered TCM Practitioner or acupuncture using single-use sterile needles.
Acupuncture is the almost complete absence of adverse effects and complications from its use. Most patients find that the treatments are relaxing and cause minimal discomfort. Acupuncture is a safe technique, provided that practitioners are properly trained and follow appropriate techniques.

Can anyone practice Acupuncture?

No. To practice TCM acupuncture you must be a member of the CTCMPAO.

It is a “controlled act”. No one can perform controlled acts without legal authority. . Controlled acts are listed in the Regulated Health Professions Act.

Performing a procedure on tissue below the dermis, below the surface of a mucous membrane, in or below the surface of the cornea, or in or below the surfaces of the teeth, including the scaling of teeth.

Scope of Practice Statement.
A profession’s “scope of practice” is a description of what that profession does. Under the Traditional Chinese Medicine Act, the scope of practice statement reads as follows: 3. The practise of traditional Chinese medicine is the assessment of body system disorders through traditional Chinese medicine techniques and treatment using traditional Chinese medicine therapies to promote, maintain or restore health.

How long does it take to become an Acupuncturist in Ontario?

The College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists in Ontario (CTCMPAO) states that you must complete a full-time post-secondary traditional Chinese medicine program of at least four years, or a full-time post-secondary traditional Chinese medicine acupuncture program of at least three years, or education that is of equivalent duration.

The time it takes will depend on your educational background and/or experience, which title you choose, and whether you are a full-time or part-time student.

To become an R.Ac can take 3.5 years full-time.
To become an R.TCMP can take 4.5 years full-time.

If you have previous education it may take less time. Advanced standing will be determined by the school of your choice.

Your education will include a structured, comprehensive, supervised, and evaluated program of clinical experience in the TCM profession, which involves at least 500 direct patient contact hours over 45 weeks.

If you attend as a part-time student it could take as long as 6 years.

When can I write the Pan-Canadian Examinations?

The Pan-Canadian Exams are generally held twice a year in April and October, check the CTCMPAO for detailed information. Depending on when you graduate it may have to wait up to six months.

Before you can practice acupuncture you must become a registered member of the CTCMPAO and pass the Pan-Canadian Examinations.

Are regulated healthcare professionals exempt from some of the required courses at acupuncture school?

If your education is equivalent in duration as per the CTCMPAO, you may be exempt. You can discuss this with the acupuncture school of your choice.

Most healthcare professions have many completed hours for the biomedical concepts such as:
– Registered Massage Therapists (RMTs)
– Physicians
– Physiotherapists
– Occupational Therapists
– Registered Nurses
– Chiropractors
– Veterinarians
– Naturopaths
– Dentists
– Kinesiologists

Do I need a college degree to become an acupuncturist?

TCM private schools
To be eligible for the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP) and the Acupuncturist (R.Ac.) programs you must have 2 years of post-secondary education OR equivalent professional experience.

TCM public schools
To be eligible for admission, you must have an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) or equivalent including these required courses:
– Grade 12 English
– Grade 12 Chemistry or Physics
– Grade 11 or 12 Biology

Or have mature student status or a college or university transfer status

Do I need to be proficient in English to attend a TCM program in Ontario?

English proficiency is required as the classes in Ontario. If the post-secondary education is not in English proof of English proficiency is required.

You may be required to submit a TOEFL exam in which you received a passing grade, and demonstrate satisfactory written/oral comprehension of English.

What is the difference between an R.TCMP and R.Ac?

Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP) may practice traditional Chinese medicine, including TCM herbal medicine and acupuncture within the scope of traditional Chinese medicine practice.

R. TCMP’s, and may use the title Acupuncturist and the designation R. Ac., including tuina, cupping and moxibustion.
Acupuncturist (R.Ac.)

Registered Acupuncturists (R.Acs) may only use the designation R.Ac and are authorized to practice traditional Chinese medicine using acupuncture, including tuina, cupping and moxibustion. They may NOT practice TCM herbal medicine.

Are there loans, scholarships and bursaries for Acupuncture schools in Ontario?

Yes. Students enrolled in the Acupuncture Therapy Diploma Program may be eligible, if qualified, for loans, grants, or awards granted under the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP).

Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) is a financial aid program that can help you pay for college or university. OSAP offers funding through:
– grants: money you don’t have to pay back
– a student loan: money you need to repay once you’re done school

You must be enrolled in a full-time program and maintain a full course load or the duration of your program to receive OSAP. You must also complete their program in the designated time for full-time studies.

Check with each school that you are interested in attending. Some schools offer scholarships as well.

How much does it cost to attend acupuncture schools in Ontario?

Tuition varies widely for acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine diploma programs in Ontario. The hours for each school’s program vary.
The average full-time program tuition for approved TCM schools are:
– $23,000 CAD (approximately) for an Acupuncture program in Ontario
– $34,500 CAD (approximately) for a Traditional Chinese Medicine program in Ontario

Part-time studies will take longer and cost more generally.
There are also other fees to be aware of (amounts vary):
– Application fees
– Textbooks and materials
– Uniform
– Professional accreditation/exam fee (school dependent)

Do acupuncture schools have payment programs?

Each private and public TCM school may have a payment program. The amounts and frequency vary between each school. It is best to check with your TCM school of interest.

What is the difference between a private TCM school and a public TCM college?

Private Traditional Chinese Medicine colleges do not receive funding from the federal or their provincial governments. They rely solely on tuition fees to operate. Courses offered by private colleges are generally smaller in number in terms of pupils and the variety of courses offered.

Public colleges are primarily funded provincially or federally. They tend to have larger class sizes. However, tuition is subsidized by the government.

Tuition fees – When looking at the cost of tuition fees for private TCM schools, there is not much difference between the cost for international students and domestic students.

How do I decide which Acupuncture school is best for me?

It is strongly recommended that when deciding between educational institutions, you visit the campus of the prospective school to get a sense of the campus’ atmosphere. Envision yourself in the classroom, this will help determine if the school is a right fit for you.

Ask yourself if the atmosphere is positive, and inspires the right conditions for your educational growth and development. Attend a class to learn about the level of instruction. Attend the school’s teachings or professional clinics to see how the training will impact you as a practitioner.

There are also logistical considerations such as:
– Distance. How far are you from your home and place of work?
– Costs of travel to the school.

What are other considerations when choosing an Acupuncture school?

– Classroom size
– Number of students per class
– School’s rank with passing the Pan-Canadian Examinations
– The school’s affiliation with the Council Of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture Schools Of Ontario
– Financial assistance availability – Is the school approved for the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP)?
– Are bursaries, scholarships, awards available?
– Instructors’ qualifications. R.TCMPs and/or R.Acs?
– Support for students for tutoring, mental health and community.
– Does the school have a continuing education program for its graduates?

Can I practice acupuncture if I move from another province to Ontario?

If you are registered in another Canadian province as a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner and/or Acupuncturist in an Active/Practising Class, you may apply for registration in the General Class of the College through Labour Mobility.

Applicants will only be able to apply for the titles and designations which they currently hold in another province.

What is the difference between TCM acupuncture and Western medical acupuncture?

TCM acupuncture is the practice of penetrating the skin with thin, solid, metallic needles which are then activated through gentle and specific movements of the practitioner’s hands or with electrical stimulation.
Acupuncture is part of the ancient practice of Traditional Chinese medicine.
TCM originated in ancient China and has a history of over two thousand years. Influenced by ancient Chinese philosophy, culture, and science and technology, Chinese medicine uses the theory of Yin and Yang and the theory of Wu Xing (5 phases) to explain the mechanism of balancing the function of the body. The Five Phases are Fire , Water , Wood, Metal, and Earth.

Western medical acupuncture (also known as dry needling) is a therapeutic modality involving the insertion of fine needles; using current knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, and the principles of evidence-based medicine. It is mainly used to treat musculoskeletal pain, including myofascial trigger point pain. Western medical acupuncture is principally used by conventional healthcare practitioners, most commonly in primary care. It is also effective for postoperative pain and nausea.

Practitioners of Western medical acupuncture tend to choose classical points as the best places to stimulate the nervous system.