Nursing programs that integrate acupuncture

  1. Hello, I am a massage therapist and am looking into pursing holistic nursing. In addition, I am extremely interested in acupuncture. I have been researching holistic nursing programs and welcome any advice for schooling. What is the best route? Going through a nursing program and then taking additional classes and/or online classes for holistic certification? Or attending a school that caters to holistic specialization? Some of the school program only seem to offer a few holistic courses at best. I already have a BS in social work so this may shorten the length of my education. Is a fast track advisable or a regular track?
    Are there any nursing programs that integrate acupuncture? The Holistic Nursing Association did not have any helpful info. in that area. Would I need to complete nursing and acupuncture school?
    Are there opportunities for travel as well?
    Thanks for any recommendations!
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  2. 9 Comments

  3. by   nizhoni
    RubyCo,

    I am a registered nurse with a deep interest in Chinese Medicine. You will need to complete acupuncture school if you wish to provide acupuncture, even if you are already an RN, as it is its own licensed profession. If you don't wish to do that (it usually involves 3-4 years of full-time study leading to a master's degree), you could study acupressure and provide that care. You could do this either by virtue of your massage license/certification or by virtue of a nursing license in most states (since nurses are licensed to touch). Check with the nursing board of the state in which you would practice to be sure that this would be acceptable.

    If you want to study nursing and provide primary care, you have the option of using your BS in Social Work as a means of fast-tracking to a master of science in nursing with a specialty certification. This is done via a 3-year program. You also have the option of pursuing the clinical nursing doctorate, said to be the way of the future for clinicians. Of course, the merits of fast-track programs like these are hotly debated on this board as well as elsewhere and you would have to decide how you feel about those issues. But if you are most interested in providing primary health care (which your interest in acupuncture implies), you could complete an MSN with a specialty, for example, in family nurse practice, then emphasize holistic care when you graduate.

    In the meantime, let me play devil's advocate here: why are you interested in becoming a nurse? Do you really want to study Western medicine? I think that you will find many aspects of nursing school to be pretty frustrating if you are interested in anything beyond the standard model of Western medicine. While nursing programs may be more "holistic" in their focus (in the sense that they deal with the physical, spiritual and psychosocial aspects of each individual), only a few really offer anything regarding complementary and alternative health care practicies. You could simply decide to pursue acupuncture on its own merits. Much depends on whether you intend to work in a geographical area that is accepting of acupuncture as a primary health care profession; in some areas, being a nurse might help pay the bills.

    In short, I know of no nursing programs that integrate acupuncture, since acupuncture is an entirely separate course of study. Tennessee State University has a master of science in nursing program that focuses on holistic nursing--but my understanding is that it's not yet a nurse practitioner program, despite an allusion to the same on their website. There are three other MSN programs in the country that offer a concentration in holistic nursing, and the University of Phoenix has a master of science in nursing in Integrative Medicine. I predict the number will increase given both public and professional interest in complementary health care practices. There is a program in New York state that actually offers a nurse practitioner program in holistic nursing--and I think it's the only official MSN/NP (as opposed to MSN only) program in the country. TSU is working on getting their program accepted for NP status, but as I understand it they are not there yet.

    Regardless, none of these would allow you to do acupuncture--for that, you must go to acupuncture school.

    Very long post, hope it helps!

    Marla
    RN-BC, Licensed Midwife (CA)
    Last edit by nizhoni on Feb 28, '07
  4. by   RubyCO
    Nizhoni,

    Thanks for your insightful reply. This definitely gave me helpful info. and things to think about. Probably too many to think about but necessary.
    Originally, I became interested in nursing for several factors. I wanted to continue work in the health field while obtaining job security, lucrative pay, and possible travel and/or job mobility. While researching the occupational handbook guide through the labor department, I found out about holistic nursing and it stated they may provide acupuncture, massage, etc.
    I have contemplated acupuncture but still have reserve about some of the philosophies and results. Nonetheless, I am still interested but have concerns about the professions earnings plus the school is nothing to sneeze at 30-40,000 in comparison to nursing school. Not that I base price on everything I want to do but it is a major concern. Obviously, nursing has more demand and security but I guess that all depends on what you want to do. In addition, I have become used to working more or less on my own or in settings with little supervision. That makes me wonder in regards to the bureaucratic atmosphere for nurses (in some settings). I've heard nurses being disgruntled about lack of respect and/or chain of command, etc. How big of an issue is that really? Anyway...thanks for the input about acupressure/shiatsu.
    Thanks for your time and effort.
  5. by   willitblend?
    Nizhoni,
    This may be necro-threading (resurrecting a dead thread from beyond the grave) but I starting doing some digging and it looks it may be possible, depending on one's state, for a nurse (with some work) to effectively do TCM without falling afoul of the law. In TN herbology and medical qigong are totally unregulated. Tuina falls under massage, but the TN Massage Practice Act specifically exempts a list of licensed health professionals (RNs, MDs, podiatrists, some others) from being restricted under that Act.
    This got me curious and I wondered what the status of acupuncture is...
    It turns out (in my state TN) that the State Code specifically allows licensed physicians to do acupuncture and call themselves acupuncturists.. but it also provides for an RN to do acupuncture if they are " nationally certified as holistic nurses and who have successfully completed an accredited education program in acupuncture..".
    So basically it looks like an RN (in my state anyway) could (if they acquired the right background) arguably stay well within the law without going out and spending the money on a Masters in Oriental Medicine.

    I'm glad to have found this out.. since some states (like mine) have no formal TCM schools at all. I would check with a lawyer or read the state code where you live carefully. You might find wiggle-room.
  6. by   Josh L.Ac.
    Nurses shouldn't be doing acupuncture unless they have completed a master's degree program (even if legally they can). Three years of solid acupuncture training is just the tip of the iceberg and you would be doing your future patients a disservice by selling yourself as an acupuncturist to them.


    A patient advocate would refer to an appropriate practitioner instead of pretending to be a competent provider.
  7. by   willitblend?
    Josh,

    How long have you been practicing neigung? 5 years? 10?
    What good is alot of book knowledge of the points if the needle is dead?
    De qi and cultivation says nothing about a multiple choice test.

    I'd rather trust my health to a barefoot doctor with nothing but skill, than I would to someone who was purely a needle mechanic.

    Now that's not to say all or even most nurses have that understanding.. but you should leave some wiggle-room for the exceptional cases.. you never know what someone may have learned from shrfu.

    I hope your practice is most fruitful.
  8. by   Josh L.Ac.
    Quote from willitblend?
    Josh,

    How long have you been practicing neigung? 5 years? 10?
    What good is alot of book knowledge of the points if the needle is dead?
    De qi and cultivation says nothing about a multiple choice test.

    I'd rather trust my health to a barefoot doctor with nothing but skill, than I would to someone who was purely a needle mechanic.

    Now that's not to say all or even most nurses have that understanding.. but you should leave some wiggle-room for the exceptional cases.. you never know what someone may have learned from shrfu.

    I hope your practice is most fruitful.
    It is an error to assume that a master's degree-level (or beyond) acupuncture training program focuses only on the didactic aspect of acupuncture and ignores the "spirit" of the medicine, and it is a logical fallacy to conversely conclude that a "barefoot doctor" training program is better because of the training avoids standardized tests.

    One of the biggest ramifications of playing acupuncture without a solid foundation is that it leaves the practitioner much more open to be seduced by their own personal anecdote.


    It is always difficult to determine if A caused B or if it merely preceded it. Without a strong acupuncture foundation, this determination becomes much more challenging.



    Bonus points if you can guess my "Five Element" diagnosis.
  9. by   willitblend?
    Quote from Josh L.Ac.
    It is an error to assume that a master's degree-level (or beyond) acupuncture training program focuses only on the didactic aspect of acupuncture and ignores the "spirit" of the medicine, and it is a logical fallacy to conversely conclude that a "barefoot doctor" training program is better because of the training avoids standardized tests.
    You are quite correct that would be an error. Neither should be assumed. However the only "guarantee" (insofar as anything is certain) is that someone who has passed a multiple choice test had certain book knowledge available when that test was taken.
    They may be most adept. They may also a hack.
    Similarly a village/barefoot doctor can only be assumed to have been convincing to patients in the past.
    They might be adept. They might also be a hack.

    It largely depends on the situation. I personally would want a person with a very strong neigung foundation,
    quite apart from the clinical skills or the book knowledge (both of which are highly desirable).

    One of the biggest ramifications of playing acupuncture without a solid foundation is that it leaves the practitioner much more open to be seduced by their own personal anecdote.


    It is always difficult to determine if A caused B or if it merely preceded it. Without a strong acupuncture foundation, this determination becomes much more challenging.
    This determination is highly challenging and generally suspect in any event, which is the irreducible problem with holism. But I'm sure you knew that.. you are a smart guy.


    Bonus points if you can guess my "Five Element" diagnosis.
    I'm afraid I'm not following you on this one. I understand Wuxing principle of course, are you implying some sort of relationship between the creative/destructive cycle and the question of acupuncture education?

    I also note (sadly) you didn't bother to answer the "how long have you been doing neigung?" question..

    As I said.. it's not that I don't think you are largely correct.. I just think there should be some wiggle room for the outliers. Most folks in the fat part of the bell curve should be learning from books, especially in today's society (IMO).
  10. by   Josh L.Ac.
    Quote from willitblend?
    I'm afraid I'm not following you on this one. I understand Wuxing principle of course, are you implying some sort of relationship between the creative/destructive cycle and the question of acupuncture education?

    I also note (sadly) you didn't bother to answer the "how long have you been doing neigung?" question..

    As I said.. it's not that I don't think you are largely correct.. I just think there should be some wiggle room for the outliers. Most folks in the fat part of the bell curve should be learning from books, especially in today's society (IMO).

    It's one of those Worsley / Lonny Jarrett / 5 Element classifications. I hardly use "Classical Five Element" acupuncture since I think of all the styles of acupuncture that I've seen, it is the most "forced" in terms of making reality fit theory, but the whole constitutional diagnosis thing is fun.

    I've been doing acupuncture for 5 years, although now I am in school for anesthesia. Since my wife also is an acupuncturist [with completely different views, BTW] there isn't enough money in it for both of us. Plus I "resonate" more with biomedical theories.

    The national licensing boards are very simple and the NCCAOM does allow acupuncturists with less formalized training to sit for the exam. I would be concerned if an individual goes through their entire training with just 1 mentor, but if they can pass the boards, then it demonstrates that they have at least be exposed to a fair degree of information.
  11. by   sethmctenn
    TN does have laws about herbal medicine. Specifically, it outlaws the practice of naturopathy. This law is currently under review and may be changed in the coming legislative session. A pharmacist, Larry Rawdon was charged with this crime and got a $1,000,000 fine. I do not know how the case eventually turned out.
    Tennessee Code Annotated 63-6-205 defines naturopathy as "the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human injuries, ailments and disease by the use of such physical forces, as air, light, water, vibration, heat, electricity, hydrotherapy, psychotherapy, dietetics or massage, and the administration of botanical and biological drugs."

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