I am somewhat flabbergasted to discover that the string of initials after my name is actually longer than my full name. As of March 1st, I am officially licensed to practice acupuncture in the state of New Hampshire. By March 14th, the Massachusetts board of licensing will meet and finally give me the piece of paper I need to practice in my home state. Regardless, I can now officially use the letters “L.Ac.” or “Lic.Ac.” after my name.
Here is little guide to the cryptic suffixes:
- Lic.Ac. – Licensed Acupuncturist, approved by state
- Dipl.O.M. – Diplomate of Oriental Medicine, national certification obtained by passing four board exams through the NCCAOM
- MAOM – Masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, graduate degree awarded by the New England School of Acupuncture for those who studied both Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine
- MBA – Masters in Business Administration, graduate degree awarded by Babson College
I’m listing the credentials to emphasize that like other Licensed Acupuncturists and herbalists, I went through a long and rigorous process for the right to practice our medicine. (The MBA is, as some of you have already guessed, from my past life – very useful, but not required.)
A lot of people are unaware that there are medical professionals who can take 300-hour crash courses in acupuncture and do not need certification or continuing education to practice. The medicine is so powerful that even someone who took a seminar can probably get modest results, but these practitioners do not have time to understand the medical theory we acquired through 3,000+ hours of clinical and classroom training. Should the treatments not work because of improper administration, it is the acupuncture profession that will suffer for it.
When choosing a practitioner – and I would love for everyone to try Chinese medicine, even if you cannot do so with me – make sure you look for someone who passed their board exams and is properly licensed. Look for those initials after the name. This is your health, after all. The credentials matter.