By Mark Whitham, Lecturer, City College of Acupuncture
That’s a question everyone considering a career in Acupuncture is probably asking themselves. So here are a few things to consider when choosing a course…
Firstly, you don’t need a degree to practice Acupuncture in the UK. In fact, as Acupuncture is not even regulated, you don’t need any formal qualification! HOWEVER…. The sticky bit comes when you try to get licensed by the local authority where you want to practice. They will want to see a qualification and normally membership of a professional body. To belong to a professional body such as the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC – the largest registering body for Traditional Acu-puncturists in the UK)) you need a qualification from an approved teaching institution such as the City College of Acupuncture (CCA). So, effectively and indirectly, you do need a qualification.
OK, that is the whole qualification bit covered, so secondly, what about the next obvious question – university or private college? Well, I am in a good position here as I have studied at both! I started at a private college and finished at a university.
Obviously, a degree from a university is never a bad thing, but it isn’t necessarily the best option. There are drawbacks, such as cost! I’m sure you have done the comparison already and realised that a private college will work out considerably cheaper as they have significantly fewer over-heads.
Course content is also an area to consider: this turned out to be a big thing for me. At the private college I studied at, I felt I learned more Chinese Medicine in my first year than I did in three years at my university. The university course has to offer a blend of modules to satisfy academia. So, as an example, I had to complete – two years of Chinese language modules, and several modules on “The Sociology of Health” and “The History of Chinese Medicine”. OK, these were all very interest-ing, but they contributed very little to my development as an Acupuncturist. The hands-on course we teach at CCA is aimed at producing accomplished practitioners, not academics!
Now it has to be said that academic writing was not my forte! On the CCA course, although there is academic writing to be done, it is far less demanding than on a university course. Many of you reading this will also have first and possibly second degrees anyway, so this may come as some relief! For those of you coming to Acupuncture as a second career, you may not want the joys of losing marks on an essay because you referenced an article incorrectly – a more practically-orientated course may suit you better.
And finally, it’s the tutors that make or break a course. The staff at the CCA are all highly experi-enced, approachable and helpful, with great teaching styles and boundless enthusiasm for this great vocation. It’s probably enough to say that when I was qualified, I sought them out again, and came full circle (there’s a Yin and Yang pun here somewhere). Now I’ve start teaching with the people who gave me such a great foundation.
Is this the right course for you? Yes, I think it is.