People often ask me why I don’t refer to myself as “Doctor” when so many of my colleagues do.
Because we are not considered to be doctors in Connecticut, I feel it is confusing (and legally inappropriate) to use this title here. Those of us, including myself, who hold “Doctor of Acupuncture” licenses from states designating us as such do refer to ourselves as “Doctor” when conducting business in those states. Rhode Island is one of them.
Many patients prefer to informally address me as “Doctor” and I appreciate this recognition. As long as they understand what my legal status and level of training are, I enjoy this as an appropriate form of respect.
About Professional Degrees
The “alphabet soup” of Chinese Medicine can be very confusing. What do all those letters after our names mean?
Some schools award a Masters in Acupuncture, others a Masters in Oriental Medicine, and still others a Doctor of Oriental Medicine for the equivalent amount of education. A practitioner with both a Masters in Acupuncture and a three-year Diploma in Herbs can have more training than a Doctor of Oriental Medicine. A doctor with an M.D. (medical doctor), N.D. (naturopath) or D.C. (chiropractor) might be fully trained or may have less than a few hundred hours of education in acupuncture.
Partly this is due to the fact that in the western world we are a new profession. Master’s degrees weren’t established until the 1990s. Many of us who studied in the 1980s and early 1990s returned to school to upgrade our three-year diplomas to Master’s Degrees when they became available. Acupuncture schools are just beginning to develop Ph.D. programs in Oriental Medicine and acupuncture, so until now we have not had the option of obtaining doctorates in our field.
Because all of this is so confusing, even to us, we are happy that Connecticut licenses acupuncturists. To obtain a license in Connecticut, one must attend a three-year Master’s degree program and sit for the National Board Exam given by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). When passing the acupuncture legislation, provision was made to “grandfather” in acupuncturists who had been practicing prior to this legislation. This was done through a credentialing process approved by the NCCAOM.
Click below for a comparison of the educational requirements for CT licensed acupuncturists and other professionals who use acupuncture.