Acupuncture organisations

| February 8, 2010 | 0 Comments | 985 views

Medically qualified individuals can undertake parttime training (for example, short courses of up to five days duration or during weekends) provided by the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS). Qualifications are awarded at basic, intermediate and advanced level and BMAS accreditation requires 100 hours of learning and a presentation of 100 fully documented cases. Full training and clinical experience in acupuncture leads to the Diploma in Medical Acupuncture. BMAS promotional literature confirms that teaching on the basic course is based on scientific explanations for acupuncture as far as possible, but it also involves traditional Chinese concepts "at a simple level, when there is still no Western explanation for the effects in particular disease".

The Acupuncture Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (AACP) provides four categories of membership, according to the degree of training undertaken. An 'advanced member' will be a fully qualified state registered physiotherapist who will have undertaken at least 200 hours of training-the AACP confirms that individuals in this category are likely to be practising Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, but also to be involved in research.

The British Acupuncture Council has provided substantive guidelines for acupuncture education for institutions wishing to be accredited by BAcC. Such courses require study over 3,600 hours, with 200 hours personal management of patients through all aspects of their treatment. Courses will include biomedical sciences, anatomy and safe needling, diagnosis of serious underlying pathology, ethics and practice management.

The British Academy of Western Acupuncture (BAWA) is affiliated with BMAS, and was founded "in order to promote, enhance and unify the practice of acupuncture in the UK". It aims to ensure a high standard of practice within the NHS and private sectors. Membership is open to those with "suitable medical qualifications" including medical doctors, physiotherapists, and registered general nurses with a minimum of three years post-graduate experience. There are two grades of membership, granted to graduates of the BAWA Education Department's Licentiate Course.

The Fook Sang Association is an independent body offering specialist professional training in scientific and traditional methods of Chinese acupuncture and herbal medicine 'as taught in China'. The organisation offers flexible prescriptions in natural Chinese herbal medicine, including Chinese Folk Medicine using 'genuine Chinese diagnosis '.

The European Federation of Modern Acupuncture is' an umbrella organisation enabling training establishments to enter into dialogue on matters of training standards '. Individual membership level is dependent on the degree of training undertaken at basic, intermediate and advanced level. Practitioners practise' modern acupuncture 'using a variety of means to measure the activity of acupuncture points / meridians, prior to treatment. Electronic, electrical and bioresonance devices are commonly used.

Members of the Modern Acupuncture Association undertake acupuncture training, clinical and tutorial studies, together with bioresonance or Voll systems, clinical kinesiology and auricular therapy. Practitioners vary widely in their approach, from needling to electroacupuncture, to changing the electro-potential of points by touch.

While differences in the training requirements of the various organisations do to some extent reflect the prior educational background of the students, there is a need for a consensus on the minimum standards of training required for all potential acupuncture practitioners. As discussed earlier, this should encompass basic knowledge of anatomy and physiology, awareness of limitations of competence, and so forth.

An updated edition of the University of Exeter survey of CAM bodies (Mills and Budd, 2000) provides an important overview of the current status of practitioners, differentiating between those who work as statutory health professionals (mainly doctors and physiotherapists) and those who work primarily as specialist acupuncturists. As well as different regulatory concerns, the report comments that the former "sometimes take the view that acupuncture is a technique to complement their conventional practice rather than an autonomous therapy (this is reflected in their educational requirements) ". (See Appendices II and III for more information about these organisations).

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