Many acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) programs in the United States offer students a trip to China. Bastyr University offers AOM students something more: a monthlong for-credit externship in China that uniquely prepares practitioners to work in integrative settings, with high patient volumes, and with people who have serious and unusual illnesses.
About the Externship
Students in Bastyr's graduate and post-graduate AOM programs can spend a month or more in the late spring or early 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.
Designed as an externship, the trip is organized to maximize students' hands-on clinical training by putting them in both outpatient and inpatient settings in teaching hospitals. In a typical day, students might shadow Chinese teaching physicians as they make rounds, check tongues and pulses, perform tests if needed, make herb/medication changes, and sometimes recommend or administer acupuncture treatments.
Value for Students
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 in the University’s main clinic, its many specialty offsite clinics and the China externship brings the theory to life and help each student understand how to apply these principles to effectively treat disease and alleviate suffering,” says Richard (Kyo) Mitchell, DAOM, LAc, a faculty member in Bastyr's Department of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Integration Benefits U.S. Patients
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 the externship, students witness an extremely integrative approach.
Nicolette Behne, a recent DAOM graduate who took the trip in May 2010, says the idea of integrating Eastern and Western medicine "really hit home during the externship," and she came home with many ideas on how to integrate 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," she 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."
The Future of AOM in the U.S.
Not only do externship students see a more integrative model of care in China, but they are afforded a glimpse into how TCM could evolve as a health care model in the United States. As TCM becomes more familiar to the general population 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.
“Our students are educated in traditional Chinese medical theory and western science," Dr. Mitchell says. "These two complementary perspectives deepen the students’ understanding of health and medicine beyond what can be understood from a single model perspective.”
Required Abilities & Skills for AOM Program Admission
A candidate for one of Bastyr University's acupuncture and Oriental medicine degree programs must be able to demonstrate appropriate observational and communication skills, motor function, intellectual-conceptual, integrative and quantitative abilities, and behavioral and social maturity. A candidate should be able to perform in a reasonably independent manner.
- Observation: A candidate must be able to observe a patient accurately at a distance and close at hand. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and somatic sensation. These are enhanced by the functional use of the sense of smell.
- Motor: Candidates should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion and other diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general care and emergency treatment to patients such as CPR and application of pressure to stop bleeding and the opening of obstructed airways. Such actions require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium and functional use of the sense of touch and vision. Observation and motor skills must be in coordination with each other in order to safely practice many of the diagnostic and clinical techniques specific to Oriental medicine. A combination of observation and motor skills are required for acquiring diagnostic information from patients as well as for the clinical portion of the training which includes the safe insertion and manipulation of acupuncture needles, cupping, moxibustion, etc.
- Communication: A candidate should be able to speak, to hear, and to observe patients in order to elicit information, describe changes in mood, activity, and posture, and perceive nonverbal communications. A candidate must be able to communicate effectively and sensitively with patients. Communication includes not only speech but reading and writing. The candidate must be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in oral and written form with all members of the health care team.
- Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative and Quantitative Abilities: These abilities include measurement, calculation, reasoning, analysis and synthesis. Problem-solving, which is a critical skill for health care practitioners, requires all of these intellectual abilities. In addition, the candidate should be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and to understand the spatial relationships of structures.
- Behavioral and Social Attributes: A candidate must possess the emotional health required for full utilization of her/his intellectual abilities, the exercise of good judgment, the prompt completion of all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to tolerate physically taxing work loads and to function effectively under stress. They must be able to adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in the clinical problems of many patients. Compassion, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest and motivation are all personal qualities that are assessed during the admissions and education processes.
About Acupuncture Clinical Training
Becoming an effective practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) involves close mentoring and instruction by experienced and knowledgeable faculty members in a variety of patient care settings.
Consistency and Quality in Training
To guarantee the highest consistency in quality education for its students, the AOM clinical program focuses the majority of your clinic shifts in the University's teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health. Bastyr's acupuncture and Oriental medicine program is science-based, training you to the highest standards to be a qualified acupuncturist.
You will be prepared for licensure in the 44 states (and District of Columbia) that legally recognize acupuncture by Bastyr's highly qualified and experienced faculty, many of whom have been in practice more than 20 years in the United States and China.
Diverse Patient Population
In the course of 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:
- General acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine
- Immune wellness care for patients with HIV/AIDS
- Integrated acupuncture and naturopathic medicine (for students enrolled in both programs)
- Opportunities to rotate through off-site community care clinics that provide affordable health care to diverse populations, including seniors, low-income and immigrant communities.
For licensed acupuncturists who enroll in the Certificate in Chinese Herbal Medicine program, there are a number of herbal shifts available.
Patient Contacts/Training Hours
- You will obtain a minimum of 400 patient contacts with 100 different patients, a requirement that ensures your ability to be successful as a graduate.
- You will spend 44 preceptor hours "shadowing" and observing acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine professionals in their private practices.
- Clinic training hours vary by degree program, with 1,356 total clinical training hours for the Master of Science in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, and 828 hours for the Master of Science in Acupuncture.
- As a fourth-year master’s degree student, you have the unique opportunity to study acupuncture and/or Chinese herbal medicine at one of our sister schools in either Shanghai or Chengdu, China, under the leadership of Bastyr faculty. Learn more about the China externship.
Tuition for Master's & Doctoral Degrees
Average first-year tuition and fee costs for a typical credit load in the 2013/2014 academic year.The "first year" is considered fall, winter and spring quarters.
Average Credits1st year
Tuition & FeesFees include a $25 quarterly student activity fee. See the University Catalog for a full schedule of fees.
Books & Supplies
TotalThe budget used to determine financial-aid eligibility allows for an additional $21,600 for a 9-month period of living expenses for graduate students.
|Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine||78.5||$31,864||$6,425||$38,289|
|Master of Science in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine||68||
|Master of Science in Acupuncture||66||$28,014||$3,846||$31,860|
|Combined BS/MS in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine||68||$28,630||$3,946||$32,576|
|Master of Science in Ayurvedic Sciences||37||$19,897||$1,100||$20,987|
|Master of Science in Nutrition (all tracks)Average first-year credit loads for nutrition master programs vary: Didactic Program in Dietetics (40 credits), Research (44), Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology (47).||44||
|Master of Science in Midwifery $3000 in extra transportation costs are automatically added for out-of-state students. Midwifery students living in Washington will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis for this addition.||42.5||$22,470||$2,125||$24,595|
|Combined BS/MS in Midwifery||42.5||$22,470||$2,125||$24,595|
|Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology||36||$22,470||$1,800||$24,270|
Quick Facts - BS/MS in Acupuncture
Combined Bachelor of Science/Master of Science in Acupuncture
- Completion of 90 quarter credits (60 semester credits)
- Minimum 2.75 GPA
- Grade C or better in all basic proficiency and science requirement courses
Length of Program
3 years, full time
(Degree must be completed within five years). Students may request consideration for a part time track.
Tuition and Fees
First year: $28,014
- Licensed acupuncturist (LAc) in private practice, with an integrative clinic
- Acupuncturist working in international health
- Expert author/writer on TCM topics
- Sports medicine specialist
Where are Acupuncturists Licensed?
Acupuncture is legally recognized in 44 states plus the District of Columbia. Learn more about state licensure.
Program Summary - Combined BS/MS in Acupuncture
Students who have completed at least two years at the undergraduate level (60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits) have the opportunity to earn their bachelor's degree in combination with the Master of Science in Acupuncture. Master's program prerequisites must also be met prior to matriculation. The bachelor's degree is awarded at the time of graduation from the master's program.
The Master of Science in Acupuncture provides the didactic 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.
Curriculum - MSA
Students earning the MSA must complete their degree requirements within five years including any credits completed as a bachelor's student and applied toward the master's.
In order to receive a license to practice acupuncture in the majority of states a student must earn either an MSA or MSAOM degree, pass the NCCAOM licensing exam and meet any additional state requirements.
Students may enter their course of study either into the combined BS/MS programs or directly into the MS programs. (The programs described below include required curriculum for the bachelor of science in natural health sciences.)
The curriculum tables that follow list the tentative schedule of courses each quarter. Next to each course are the number of credits per course (Crdt.), the lecture hours each week (Lec.), the lab/clinic hours each week (L/C) and the total contact hours for the course over the entire quarter (Tot).
Expected Learning Outcomes
The Department of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine has established the following expected learning outcomes for all Master of Science in Acupuncture/Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine programs. Graduates will be trained to be:
- Safe and effective in the care of patients by demonstrating in-depth ability in the following areas:
- Knowledge of traditional Chinese medicine diagnostic strategies and their application to individual cases
- Skill in the traditional methods of assessment of patients including interviewing, palpation and observation
- Competence in selecting the appropriate treatment modalities and plans for a patient utilizing acupuncture, tui na, Chinese herbs (relevant to the MSAOM) and lifestyle counseling
- Skill in the application of acupuncture techniques in an appropriate and safe fashion for each patient
- Able to integrate Eastern and Western paradigms of medicine for the purposes of informing the practice of traditional Chinese medicine, communicating with other health care professionals and patients, and making appropriate medical referrals when necessary
- Professional in their approach to setting up and maintaining a private practice, collaborating with other health care professionals, working in an integrated health care setting and providing leadership within the acupuncture and Oriental medicine ﬁeld
- Capable of accessing research information and critically assessing the value of published clinical research in the ﬁeld
- Able to provide health prevention measures based on traditional Chinese medicine theory (such as tai chi, qigong, and therapeutic nutrition) to support the well-being of their patients and themselves
- Qualiﬁed to pass national and state acupuncture and/or herbal exam
Curriculum and course changes in the 2013-2014 Bastyr University Catalog are applicable to students entering during the 2013-2014 academic year. Please refer to the appropriate catalog if interested in curriculum and courses required for any other entering year.Click here to download the PDF file.
Prerequisites - BS/MSA or BS/MSAOM
Entering undergraduates must have earned at least a 2.75 cumulative grade point average, with a grade of C or better in all basic proficiency and science requirement courses. Exceptional applicants who do not meet this minimum requirement will be reviewed on a case by case basis. Prior to enrolling, students must have completed 90 quarter credits (60 semester credits) including a minimum number of credits in basic proficiency, science and general education categories. Surplus credits not used to satisfy basic proficiency or science requirements may be applied to the appropriate general education requirements. Note that students may apply to the program while completing prerequisite course work.
Students entering the BS/MS program as undergraduates are required to maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA for the first year of their studies, regardless of credits. Starting with the second academic year, students are required to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Basic Proficiency and Science Requirements
|English literature or composition||9 quarter credits|
|Intermediate algebra||1 course|
|General psychology||3 quarter credits|
|General chemistry (with lab, allied health level)||4 quarter credits|
|General biology (with lab)||4 quarter credits|
|Speech communication or public speaking||3 quarter credits|
General Education Requirements
|Natural sciences and mathematics||12 quarter credits|
|Arts and humanities||15 quarter credits|
|Social sciences||15 quarter credits|
|Electives||25 quarter credits|