Many acupuncture programs in the United States offer students a trip to China. Bastyr University offers students something more: a three-week long elective-credit externship that uniquely prepares practitioners to work in integrative settings, with high patient volumes, and with people who have serious and unusual illnesses.
Students in Bastyr's graduate acupuncture programs can spend three weeks or more in the fall studying abroad and learning traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) at two of China's most prestigious schools, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine or the Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The trip maximizes students' hands-on clinical training by putting them in both outpatient and inpatient settings in teaching hospitals. In a typical day, students shadow Chinese teaching physicians as they make rounds, check tongues and pulses, perform tests, make herb/medication changes, and sometimes recommend or administer acupuncture treatments.
The common cold, a sore back, a stroke, cancer — in China every medical condition falls under the TCM practitioner's purview. This cultural difference means TCM physicians in China see triple the daily patient load typical for practitioners in America. For students on the externship, it means exposure to conditions and situations they probably won't encounter during clinical training in the United States.
Clinical training on the China externship brings theory to life and helps students understand how to apply principles to effectively treat disease and alleviate suffering.
Clinical training in China offers another advantage: The teaching physicians are trained in both Western and Eastern medicine. These doctors model an integrative approach to treatment, often prescribing X-rays and laboratory tests alongside TCM treatments, which acupuncturists in America cannot do.
Bastyr students spend years learning to be "gatekeepers" — identifying when treatment is appropriate, but also when Western interventions are needed. During the externship, students witness an extremely integrative approach.
Nicolette Behne, a recent DAOM graduate, says the idea of integrating Eastern and Western medicine "really hit home during the externship." She came home with many ideas on how to integrate Eastern and Western medicine in her private practice.
"It's about combining TCM and Western medicine in the best way possible to help people live longer with an improved quality of life," Behne says, noting that in China oncology patients can receive "Western" or "herbal" chemotherapy one day and then, on a non-chemo day, take support herbs that help with the side effects. "This allows patients to continue their chemo regimen. TCM and Western medicine can work together the same way here in the U.S."
By learning a more integrative model of care in China, students gain a glimpse into how TCM could evolve as a health care service in the United States. As TCM becomes more familiar to the American public and as its benefits become more widely recognized, practitioners must learn how to operate in integrative settings and work within a greater scope of practice.
Bastyr students are educated in traditional Chinese medical theory and western science. These two complementary perspectives deepen students’ understanding of health and medicine beyond what can be understood from a single-model perspective.
Becoming an effective practitioner of acupuncture medicine involves close mentoring and instruction by experienced faculty members in a variety of patient-care settings.
The DAcM clinical program focus the majority of your clinic shifts in the University's Seattle teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health.
Bastyr's Acupuncture and Oriental medicine program is science-based, led by highly qualified and experienced faculty, many of whom have been in practice more than 20 years in the United States and China.
You will be prepared for licensure in the 46 states (and District of Columbia) that legally recognize acupuncture.
During your clinical training, you will have the opportunity to provide care to a wide range of patients with a variety of medical conditions. Within Bastyr Center, there are several different types of patient care shifts available to students:
Kenmore, Washington campus
Students have two entry options for the Doctoral program in Acupuncture Medicine.
4 years (16 quarters)
The program of study will be comprised of 274 quarter credits (3724 clock hours). 198 credits are didactic courses, 48 credits are clinical (1056 hours), and the remainder is laboratory/practical credits.
See how our graduates use their degrees.
Acupuncture is legally recognized in 46 states and the District of Columbia. Requirements for licensure can vary from state to state, with the majority of states requiring the successful completion of the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) exam. Students interested in licensure in a state other than Washington or California should learn the licensing requirements of that particular state to ensure there are no outstanding academic requirements at the time of graduation. Academic advising is available to help students intending to meet additional state licensing requirements.
For the latest licensure information, please consult the NCCAOM website.
The Doctorate in Acupuncture Medicine (DAcM) is designed to train acupuncturists to the highest level of competency that this growing field is demanding. This is replacing the previously offered Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine program.
The DAcM program is approved and accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Bastyr’s Master’s programs and curriculum in acupuncture and Oriental medicine are accredited by the Accreditation Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM, 8941 Aztec Drive, Eden Prairie, MN 55347, phone: (952) 212-2434, acaom.org). Bastyr University is submitting a substantive change application to upgrade this programmatic accreditation to the doctoral level by incorporating the 82 competencies required by ACAOM.
The DAcM program also provides the classroom and clinical training necessary for eligibility for the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncture an Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) board exam, which is the basis for licensing in most states.
The Doctorate in Acupuncture Medicine (DAcM) trains graduates to do the following:
All entering students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 to be considered for admission. A grade of C or better is also required in all prerequisite coursework.
Students may apply to the program while completing prerequisite coursework but must have a plan for completing prerequisites before the start of the program in the fall.
Courses Required for all Students:
General Chemistry with lab (survey level)
4 quarter credits
General Biology with lab (survey level)
3 quarter credits
*Intermediate Algebra is not college level, and credits will not transfer towards undergraduate degree completion.
In addition to the detailed prerequisites listed above, applicants who plan to start the program without an awarded bachelor’s degree must also complete the following General Education Requirements:
English Literature and Composition
9 quarter credits
Speech Communication or Public Speaking
Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Arts and Humanities
15 quarter credits
70 quarter credits
For students entering the program without a bachelor's degree, the following are strongly recommended courses to take while completing your general education requirements:
Chinese Language (Mandarin)
Want to know which classes fulfill these prerequisites? Check these lists:
Interested in completing some prerequisite courses online? Learn more about which lower-division courses can be fulfilled through the Alternative Credit Project.
Click here to download the proposed curriculum for students starting in the Doctor of Acupuncture Medicine program in Fall 2017. Please note that changes to the curriculum may still occur before the start of the Fall 2017 academic year.