Acupuncture; qualifications and risks

An acupuncture needle should always be sterile

Acupuncture is a sensitive technique and any bad practice, as with any medical or paramedical process, can have harmful effects. This applies, for example if the needles are not sterile, outmoded or applied in sensitive areas. Some practitioners do not use sterilisation which can transmit infections between patients, the same way as syringe needles can if they were used several times.

In the West, to prevent this risk they generally use disposable needles.  In several county’s, all acupuncturists are subject to regulations requiring them to use only disposable needles, which reduce the rate to almost no risk of infection. The standards are not the same in all parts of the world.

Diplomas and courses

In France, there are 2 Inter-University Diplomas (IUD) of acupuncture for physicians (IUD acupuncture General) and midwives (IUD obstetric acupuncture), both lasting three years.

Capacity in acupuncture was officially created in 2008.  In China, zhongyi xueyuan [institutes of Chinese medicine] and zhongyiyao daxue [University of Medicine and Pharmacy Chinese] are the students grades of xueshi (5 years), then after a competition and three additional years they culminate in an examination and defense of acupuncture research work in a specialty at shuoshi and, after a new competition is followed by three years of study and a second argument, the boshi concludes after eleven years of university.

This course is independent but similar in duration and level of qualifications to that of Western medicine.  China has two parallel systems of official medicine: Chinese medicine and Western medicine.

Each has its own schools, hospitals and affiliated research institutes. Students have access to one or other of these two sectors immediately after graduation. It should be noted that acupuncture is only a matter within the training of Chinese medicine and, it represents only a small part of education and practice of medicine and Chinese traditional medicines is the main branch of this therapeutic discipline.

Several schools in Europe offer a teaching in cooperation with universities in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chengdu) open to all physicians. In Quebec, the College de Rosemont, which serves as a reference, proposes a training program issuing the title of acupuncturist.