What is the best TCM School or Acupuncture School?
Updated: Apr 25
John & Jenny Traditional Chinese Medicine College (JJTCMC), a private TCM and Acupuncture college located in Markham, Ontario, Canada, provides the following as a guide to what makes the best Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture school, college, or program. If you find yourself navigating a sea of dizzying options, it is our hope that what follows provides you with your direction.
First and foremost, the best TCM or Acupuncture College program is determined by you - your objectives, your circumstances, your parameters. Currently, there is no third-party which objectively compares and assesses the quality of TCM or Acupuncture education in Ontario, nor does the profession’s regulatory college, the CTCMPAO, have a process by which TCM Schools or Acupuncture Schools are approved by any measure. Suffice it to say, then, that there is, unfortunately, no third-party shortlist of the top quality or best TCM or Acupuncture schools, colleges, or programs. Consequently, before commencing a serious search for the best TCM or Acupuncture School, draw up a list of the criteria and school or program features that must be met and/or compared. The resulting list of parameters from this exercise defines the best TCM School or Acupuncture School based on your needs. To assist you in this tremendously important endeavor, we provide you with a set of parameters for consideration and for you to weight according to your personal circumstances.
Meets Regulatory College Requirements: The country and province or state in which you wish to work post-graduation dictates which, if any, regulatory examination(s) one must pass in order to legally operate within the regulated profession. Ensure that you are aware of the requirements set by the regulatory college in order for one to be eligible to write any licensing examination(s); the selected TCM or Acupuncture program should satisfy all requirements by the time that you graduate. For ease of reference, the regulatory bodies for the profession in select Canadian provinces are as follows:
Location (km): The distance one must travel to school. Note, even if JJTCMC is beyond your threshold of daily commuting, we offer hybrid online learning wherein some theoretical courses are attended online, and practical and remaining theoretical courses are completed onsite and all assessments are to be completed onsite. In other words, a school or program who meets or exceeds all other criteria save for location, may have an elearning option which may decrease the weighting of this parameter.
Duration to Graduation (years): How long will it take you to completed your desired program of choice based on yours and the school’s schedule? Here, it is important to consider your availability to attend classes as scheduled on a part-time, full-time, or even an accelerated basis – all of which, are available at JJTCMC.
Duration of Program Operation: This refers to how long the school or college in question has been operating the program being considered; naturally, an older program age has a greater likelihood of corresponding to a more mature program offering than a younger program age. For example, though the majority of the population in Ontario assign a subconscious prestige to public Universities and Colleges when compared with private colleges, TCM and Acupuncture program offerings in public colleges is new whereas certain private colleges have been dedicated to offering such programs for many years.
Tuition: How much will my TCM or Acupuncture program cost me?
Payment Schedule: Is the payment schedule for tuition fees flexible enough to be personally feasible?
Additional Costs: Are there any hidden or additional costs that I should be made aware of for a fair comparison? For example: textbooks, student clinic internship fees, required student supplies, practica fees, licensing examination preparatory courses.
Scholarships: Does the school provide scholarships to students? How many students receive the scholarship? Do I have a reasonable chance of being selected for this scholarship such that it reduces my tuition?
Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) Eligibility: Firstly, determine whether you may be eligible for OSAP. If so, confirm whether the programs being considered are eligible for OSAP. Next, use the OSAP calculator tool to estimate how much you would be eligible to receive in loans and grants were you to study a given program. Finally, if cost of education is a heavily weighted factor in your selection process, it is imperative that you model the overall cost to you of OSAP approved programs vs non-OSAP approved programs as it is possible that, despite the grants received from OSAP, your cost could be less in a program that has yet to be approved by OSAP. It is important to note that being OSAP approved itself does not signify prestige nor superior quality as it may be that some academic institutions have simply not yet applied for OSAP approval.
Meets Regulatory College Requirements: An applicant’s academic program requirements should constitute a minimum program curriculum requirement; ensure that these are met by the program of choice.
Breadth (optional): Though not necessary in terms of one’s eligibility to write a licensing examination, if one is particularly interested in a study topic which is not well represented in the program requirements put forward by a regulatory college, then the degree to which such a topic is covered in a given program’s curriculum should be assessed. Examples of such topics can include: Qi Gong and Tai Chi, TCM Diet and Nutrition, Business Management, TCM Classics. A word of caution here: one should consider how a program is including such extra topics into their curriculum. That is, are these offered via a dedicated course where, if hours of instruction are equal across programs being considered, other programs, who exclude these extra topics, allocate more time to the subjects pertinent one’s licensing examination(s); or, if hours of instruction are not equal across the programs being evaluated, perhaps these extra subjects cause an increase in overall instruction hours.
Licensing Examination Preparation Courses: If you will be required to sit a licensing examination, it is prudent to ensure that your diploma program in TCM or Acupuncture includes intensive preparatory courses intended to better prepare one to sit licensing examination(s).
Distinguished Faculty: The quality of faculty members should be assessed. Know that you should expect to encounter a certain Senior Professor to Junior Professor ratio in terms of the distribution of faculty members. Often, senior lecturers command many years of clinical experience and may also have a requirement of having a PhD in the subject that they instruct. Junior lecturers are often recently licensed professionals that excelled academically and performed extremely well on the licensing examination(s). The former is important for their breadth of knowledge and its application, the latter is important for focusing students on the information that it relevant to recent licensing examination questions. In this way, such a ratio is certainly justified, however, one should ascertain what the ratio is and one must confirm that the ratio they were provided indeed reflects the ratio that students are likely to encounter while progressing through a given program; that is, institutions may have many faculty members but a subset of these actually teach the majority of classes. In short, know the anticipated ratio and understand the qualifications that differentiate senior from junior lecturers per school.
CLINICAL HOURS CONSIDERATIONS
Internships vs Student Clinics: The difference between internships at private clinics vs school-affiliated student clinics should simply be the location at which you are to complete your clinical hours. If daily commute is of any concern, it may be prudent to opt for an option wherein you are fully aware of where clinical hours are to be accumulated. Note, I said that the only difference “should” be location; this assumes that the following considerations are equal across all programs under consideration.
Meets Regulatory College Requirements: If licensing will be required for you to practice post-graduation, then ensure that the number of clinical hours that are required to graduate from a given program meet or exceed the minimum requirements for entry to any licensing examination(s).
Distinguished Clinical Supervisors: Regardless of whether clinical hours are completed at a student clinic that is affiliated with a given school or as an internship at a private practice, the quality of your clinical supervisors should be assessed. Traditionally, and for sound reason, TCM and Acupuncture was taught by way of apprenticing with masters of the modalities. Do not underestimate the value of your clinical hours; where theory obtained from coursework will ensure that one meets the minimum competencies for licensing, one’s clinical hours are important in improving your abilities to handle any condition. Naturally, one’s potential is highest when assigned to a clinical supervisor with impressive credentials, many clients, and many years of clinical practice.
Breadth of Cases: As clinics tend to produce more of the same types of patient cases, due to the mechanism of referrals, prospective students should inquire as to the variability and breadth in conditions that will be seen throughout one’s clinical hours. Ultimately, graduates of a program need to be able to handle any patient that walks into their future clinic – not just musculoskeletal problems; this consideration translates into the production of well-rounded TCM and Acupuncture professionals that have the confidence and clinical expertise to tackle any condition – from simple and easy to treat to complex and hard to treat. If a program in question solely relies on student placements in private clinics, it may be difficult for you to assess this in advance of being assigned to a clinic.
SCHOOL PERFORMANCE CONSIDERATIONS
Licensing Examination Pass Rate: If you are specifically interested in being licensed in Ontario as a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac) or a Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCMP), then one can visit the regulating College’s website, the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO), here to verify the pass rates per year of students who sat the Pan Canadian Examination and had completed their diploma program at an Ontario school or college; the results are even divided into which stream you are interested in: Traditional Chinese Medicine or Acupuncture.
Audit a few classes: Sit in on a few classes and rate your average perception of the overall quality of the school, instruction, and professionalism.
In addition to the above, feel free to also consult the following resource from the regulatory college in Ontario, the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO), on tips for choosing a TCM school in Ontario.
An Ontario based school of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture offering diplomas, certificates, courses, and CEUs. Our flexible schedule allows for full time studies, or part time studies in the mornings, evenings, or weekends. Distance learners enjoy a blend of live online learning and onsite training.
We provide authentic clinic-oriented top quality Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) education for all skill levels.
To provide the highest level of authentic TCM instruction in order to produce quality TCM professionals and thereby, by virtue of producing efficacious TCM practitioners, promoting TCM use to the general public. In short, our objective is to make quality TCM professionals accessible to all and we start by ensuring access to quality TCM education is affordable and flexible.