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  • Paul Laffin

I thought I was getting free acupuncture

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

by Paul Laffin, September 3, 2019

As Labour Day is now past, I find myself reminiscing about the summer that was…. the great barbecues, the pints on the patios, sailing on Lake Ontario, and the camping trips up north. Most memorable of the trips, was five nights in Algonquin Park! Canoeing on Canoe Lake, fishing but not catching, and the hikes. The bonus part of the hikes was the free acupuncture, courtesy of the abundant culicidae – more commonly known as the mosquito.

Being familiar with acupuncture, I thought that perhaps their mandibles (the thing used to pierce your skin) once inserted into all the major acupuncture points in my body, I would feel some relief from the pain, which was starting to build in my neck. Despite all of these free sessions, where I was repeatedly bitten that weekend , I didn’t get much pain relief at all. I suppose it may be due to the lack of training and technique, given that the average lifespan of a female mosquito (the biters) is only about 2 months, whereas a Registered Acupuncturist goes through 2 years of full-time education (or equivalent ).

This training must consist of at least 45 weeks of clinical experience, most acupuncturist have at least 50 weeks, involving at least 500 hours of direct patient contact.

1,590 hours are also spent in class.

Here is a small sample of some of the courses that an acupuncturist is required to complete, and the number of hours spent in these classes:

  • Traditional Chinese Medicine Theory and Diagnostics (240 hours)

  • Acupoint Theory and Location (180 hours)

  • Pharmacology (60 hours)

  • Anatomy and Physiology (120 hours)

Once the necessary training is completed, the prospective acupuncturist must pass 2 government regulated board exams. These exams along with the entire regulatory process for Registered Acupuncturists in the Province of Ontario is the responsibility of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of Ontario (CTCMPAO)

Their vision is to inspire confidence and trust in the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In other words, the mandated training and exams is to ensure the safety of the public, more specifically the patients.

To give you an idea as to the difficulty of the exams; in 2018 29.9% of people who wrote the Pan-Canadian exam in Ontario did not pass, this includes many not passing on a repeated attempt. To put that into perspective, while the Law Society of Ontario does not officially publish failure rates, it is believed that around 10% of people do not pass the Ontario Bar exam.

It is pretty clear that in order to safely and effectively insert needles into someone, and to receive real benefit requires an immense amount of training and knowledge. Registered Acupuncturists in Ontario are prepared to provide you with this care.

The next time you are portaging around those rapid, and your shoulders are aching or your neck is tightening up, don’t trust that the mosquitoes will help in any way, instead when you get back home, find a Registered Acupuncturist near you that could ensure you are ready for the winter ski season.

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