How Do I Become a Doctor of Oriental Medicine: Psychological Preparation

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Oriental medicine practiced for centuries in the East is becoming increasingly popular in the West. Despite advances in Western medicine, it has not been effective in providing satisfactory remedies for certain kinds of ailments. More and more patients who find no respite in Western medicine are turning towards Oriental Medicine for solutions. The great majority, would, however, prefer a combination of Western medicine and Eastern medicine to safeguard their heath.

While in the past oriental medical practitioners were usually dismissed as quacks, the same is not the case nowadays. It’s not uncommon to see practitioners of western medicine making a switch to oriental medicine. A good example would be Christine Hasinger.

Oriental medicine has also acquired the recognition it has long deserved. Recognition now comes from established bodies like the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCOM) and the American Association of Oriental Medicine (AAOM).

The scope of Oriental Medicine is certainly expanding in the West, and the demand for it has given rise to the need for more oriental medical practitioners. If you’re contemplating on pursuing oriental medicine as a career, here are some tips you ought to consider to make your dream come true.

Psychological Preparation

Examine your interest. Are you really interested in oriental medicine? Do you have a working knowledge of the field? Courses in oriental medicine will not only involve the study of medical procedures, but also the appreciation of oriental traditions and philosophies. You may have to undertake practices that could be alien to your culture. Are you prepared for this new experience?

Although your studies may be in English for the major part, you may be required to study medical terms in a foreign language. Are you ready for the challenge?

Doing Your Homework

If you’re psychologically prepared for an `adventure’ in oriental medicine, the next step would be to do a little homework to prepare you for what’s to come.

A wise step would be to talk to an oriental medicine practitioner in the neighborhood. Ask “how do I become a Doctor of Oriental medicine?” What challenges are to be surmounted? What are the qualities required of an oriental medicine student. Take notes and review them and add your thoughts.

Better still, if you have the time to spare, apply to serve as an assistant to an oriental medicine doctor to experience first hand what the practice of oriental medicine involves. It would be much better than talking to education counselors or college representatives who may not paint a true picture in the interest of getting students enrolled in their institutions.

Deciding on Area of Interest

Once you’ve a clear picture of what oriental medicine practice involves, you can decide on your area or interest. Would you like to specialize in acupuncture, massage, physical therapy or herbal medicine?

If you can’t decide on an area of interest, then you could opt for a general course which would cover traditional Chinese medicine theories, acupuncture, traditional massage, Tui Na (Chinese physical therapy) and Chinese herbal medicine, among others.

Again you would have to do plenty of homework to help you make an informed decision.

Mode of Study

Do you wish to study full-time or part-time? Ideally, you would choose a college or university in your hometown. If you can’t locate any institutions offering oriental medicine courses in your locality, then you could opt for a distance learning course.

Do an Internet search of oriental medicine schools in your area or your preferred location and study the relevant details. Different schools have different entry requirements. Don’t hesitate to contact them for further details if your questions are not answered in their websites.

What to Look For in a School

There are many schools out there offering courses in oriental medicine. Your first task would be to check whether the school is accredited. An example of an accreditation body would be the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) ,a body recognized by the US Department of Education. The National Oriental Medicine Accreditation Agency would be another.

If you’ve an idea of where you’ll be practicing after completing your course, you would also want to check whether the school is approved by the licensing board of the state you intend to practice in.

Other areas to check are:

  • availability of financial aid
  • whether the school has a high board licensing pass rate
  • whether training offered is comprehensive – at least 3,000 hours for a minimum duration of 3.5 years.

Finally, you would want to visit the school to examine the training facilities and talk to existing students on their learning experiences.

Whatever you do, make copious notes on how do I become a Doctor of Oriental Medicine so that you could reflect on them at your leisure and make an informed decision.

References The Oriental School and Program Directory –

The National Oriental Medicine Accreditation Agency

Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine