About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Names and identifying details have been changed on any person described in these posts to protect their identity.

Should Chiropractors Perform Acupuncture?

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call at home from a fundraiser asking for money for the school where I received my master’s degree in Oriental Medicine.  I politely told the woman that I would not support the school and I told her why.

You see, the school I attended also trains chiropractors.  This is not a problem.  The school trains chiropractors to perform acupuncture.  This is also not a problem.  However, the school trains chiropractors to perform “acupuncture” in 105 hours over seven weekends while at the same time they train acupuncturists in a three-year, 3,000 hour program.  This is a problem.

When I gave the fundraiser the short story, she assured me that she understood.  In fact, she had heard the same story several times already that day.  Really?  I asked her how many.  She shared, “Well, over the course of this morning alone I’ve heard it about 25 times.”

What this means, people, is that we acupuncturists mind that chiropractic schools are turning out Minnie Me acupuncturists in the equivalent of two months of weekends or less.  And we’re speaking with our wallets.

Let me spell out why we mind. 

First of all, this is a consumer issue.  Many chiropractors who perform acupuncture represent themselves as fully trained acupuncturists, which they are not and could not possibly be with the minimal training they have had.  When asked about their credentials, chiropractors call themselves Board Certified acupuncturists.  (At least in my state.) This simply means that they passed an exam held by their local board at the end of their seven weekends. (This is compared to licensed acupuncturists who must pass a national exam after 3,000 classroom and clinical hours of study. However, the consuming public is not aware of this fact.  And it shows.

During the first few years of my practice, I attended several health fairs and networking events.  I ended up talking to dozens of people who had been treated unsuccessfully by chiropractors with “chiropractic” acupuncture.  Not only does this give the acupuncture profession a black eye, but we also have to reeducate consumers and undo the negative effects of well meaning, but under trained chiropractors.

My second objection is purely selfish.  My school is cranking out chiropractors to perform acupuncture.  They compete head to head with the licensed acupuncturists who have spent considerable time and money to obtain their credentials.  Isn’t this a conflict of interest?

So, yes, we mind.  And while we may be a small profession, we’re growing fast.  And we’re letting you know in a language that is universally understood—financialese.  I am asked frequently by my patients for referrals to chiropractors, which I will do.  However, I won’t refer to one who’s doing abbreviated acupuncture.  And no, I will not support my school while they continue to train chiropractors in “acupuncture” in a weekend seminar format, or in any format, for that matter, less than the training in Chinese medicine demanded of licensed acupuncturists.

8 comments to Should Chiropractors Perform Acupuncture?

  • aroop

    If chiros can do acupuncture, then acupuncturusts should be allowed to do manipulation. Afterall, manipulation is part of tuina.

  • Lynn Jaffee

    So true! But we acupuncturists don’t pretend to be chiropractors.

  • Amy

    Unless they have had the same amount of acupuncture training that WE have had, my vote is definitely no. We offer different treatments, and you’re right- we aren’t pretending to be chiropractors 🙂

    Thanks for posting this!

  • Lynn Jaffee

    AND you don’t see anyone trying to do chiropractic adjustments after seven weekend seminars. Thanks, Amy. Love your blog.

  • Jaz

    I am trying to find the right school for me when I came across this blog. I would like to do both chiro and acupuncture, however I am not willing to partially be educated in either field. Do you recommend any schools that are legit and that I should look into?

  • Lynn Jaffee

    The only school I know that offers training both in acupuncture and chiropractic is where I went, Northwestern Health Sciences University (http://www.nwhealth.edu/) in Bloomington, MN. Both programs take three years to complete, however, and I don’t think you can take both programs at the same time.

  • Entzu Hong

    How about MD’s? They have no clue about acupuncture and Chinese medicine and why are they even allow to perform acupuncture not even 100 hours of training? Or are we just attacking chiropractors because they are taking our business away?

  • Lynn Jaffee

    You raise a good point. I believe that nobody with a hundred hours should be performing acupuncture. The amount of training a practitioner has is one of the most important questions consumers of acupuncture should be asking.