At the Healing and Acupuncture College (HAC), we often field questions from international students curious about studying acupuncture online and in person. There’s a common misconception that you can study acupuncture at a college and then be set to practice it anywhere in the world.
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
Firstly, even with a top-notch three-year acupuncture degree, transferring your skills to another country isn’t straightforward. Take Italy, for example, only doctors are allowed to practice acupuncture there. Your only option as an acupuncturist is to work under a doctor in their clinic.
In the US, it’s a different story in every state. You might be qualified in one but need to pass additional exams to practice in another.
The bottom line is that there’s no universal acupuncture qualification that opens doors worldwide.
We also get lots of queries asking whether it’s possible to do the online part of the course first and then wrap up with a two or three-week intensive practical session at HAC.
But realistically, it’s not a workable option. Our accreditation body wouldn’t approve, and neither would our insurers. Sure, you can pick up plenty of theory online, but developing practical skills, understanding and experiencing Qi, and honing your awareness and senses requires time – we think the minimum is about a year (and be aware that we do have critics who say it’s still not enough).
It’s about repeatedly engaging with these concepts and skills over time, turning them into something tangible that’s real to you and therefore potentially effective in your practice.
There is something else to mention in this context actually – dropout rates.
In fact, although not every college is honest about it, many students who study acupuncture aren’t practicing three or four years down the line.
That’s perfectly normal and it’s not just the case with acupuncture; it’s the same with any field of study. You might dive into history, engineering, or any serious subject, only to find yourself on a different path or in an unrelated career later on.
But those experiences, the concepts you’ve grappled with, and the people you’ve met – are all valuable. They enrich your life in ways you might not expect.
This is definitely the case with acupuncture where you are introduced to a different way of looking at your life and the world around you. The diverse backgrounds of our students add to this rich tapestry. For example, you could have been an oil rig worker; that different and unique experience can still provide invaluable insights into understanding and empathizing with patients from similar backgrounds.
We absolutely welcome foreign students considering acupuncture study who can commit to our schedule. But you need to know about these things before you start.
Acupuncture study is a journey of learning, growth, and self-discovery that you cannot easily cram into a few weeks. It’s about building a new you with a new awareness and understanding yourself better. This helps you to learn properly and enjoy the journey, wherever it may lead you.