Acupuncture CEU Online Video Courses: Watch Now 2018-08-29T15:24:30-08:00

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Acupuncture Continuing Education Online: A Guide to NCCAOM and California Certification

As a practicing acupuncturist you’ll need to take continuing education courses in order to keep your license current. But the classes you choose, the number of CEU or PDA points required for certification, and even the period of time will vary depending on the board that provides your license.

In the U.S., nearly all states require acupuncturists to be licensed and recertified every 4 years at the national level, which is governed by the NCCAOM. The major exception, however, is California which requires acupuncturists to be certified at the state level. Each organization approves its own CEU providers and individual classes. So before you buy a course be sure to search for approved providers and classes here at the NCCAOM and here at the California Acupuncture Board. Just for reference, Professional Development Activity (PDA) is the same as Continuing Education Unit (CEU).

Here’s a review and summary of the differences in getting your acupuncture license recertified by NCCAOM versus California Acupuncture Board (CAB). 

Time Period
Number of Credits
Courses: Online vs Live
CEU course content areas:
    Clinical Practice
    Professional Enhancement
    Personal Development
    Safety & Ethics
    CPR
How to submit your CEU’s
Certificate of Completion
Where to Find the Application Forms
Fees
Are there free acupuncture CEU courses online?


Time Period: 4 years vs 2 years
To maintain an active license, NCCAOM requires recertification every 4 years while California Acupuncture Board requires it every 2 years.

Number of Credits: 60 hours vs 50 hours
A PDA or CEU credit is equal to an hour of instruction. NCCAOM requires 60 credits for recertification during a 4 year period, while CAB requires 50 credits each 2 years. So really the way this works out is an acupuncturist practicing in California almost twice as many credits to qualify for recertification.

CEU courses: Online vs Live

If you are licensed by the NCCAOM and you’d prefer to take your courses online, then you’re in luck. All 60 CEU points can be achieved with online courses, which is sometimes also called “Distance Learning,” an outdated term from pre-internet correspondence courses.
If you are licensed in California, the restrictions are a little more complicated. Half of your 50 CEU’s can be from online or distance learning courses. This includes recorded video, or audio, or even .pdf reading materials. The other half (or 25) of your credits need to be “Live Continuing Education Courses.” This means either face-to-face instruction as in a seminar or classroom, or in an online webinar. It seems confusing because a webinar happens online, but it’s considered a “Live” class because you have the ability to interact with the instructor. So if it’s happening in real time, and you have the ability to ask questions either by voice or text chat, then it’s considered a “Live” class for CEU purposes.
The California board has expressed an opinion that didactic (or informational) classes are suited for online, while hands on acupuncture technique classes are more suited for a face to face classroom.

CEU course content areas: Clinical Practice versus Personal Development


Clinical Practice
There are two types of subject matter requirements for courses. The first is clinical practice, which is any topic related to the actual provision of health care to patients. For example, any class that teaches theory and foundation of Acupuncture or Oriental Medicine, diagnosis or treatment methods is in this category. Also, any class that’s relevant to clinical practice in western medicine or biomedicine will qualify as well.
To make things a little easier, you’ll see the designation “Category 1,” or “AOM-BIO,” in the class description whether it’s purchased online or described as a live event. If you don’t, then you should think twice before signing up for the class.<
The California Acupuncture Board calls these clinical topics “Category 1,” and 45 credits (out of 50) must fall within this category for every 2 year period.
The NCCAOM calls these clinical topics “AOM-BIO,” and requires a minimum of 26 units and a maximum of 56 units for each 4 year renewal period. This sounds like fuzzy thinking, but we’ll get into the 30 unit difference below. So the term “Core Competency,” refers to AOM-BIO classes plus 2 units of Safety and 2 units of Ethics that are required. You can acquire all 60 units in Core Competency. As an alternative, you can replace up to 30 units with Professional Enhancement activities or course work.

Professional Enhancement Activities
The bonus category for NCCAOM – which can account for up to 30 units – is called “Professional Enhancement,” (PE-AT) and it covers a broad area of activities outside the classroom. One way to get these units is by volunteering your professional services (pro bono) in the field, either by treating people, working on legislation, or serving on a professional board. The second category of CEU’s is acquired by teaching a class, giving a lecture, doing research, writing an article, editing or authoring a book, all of these within the area of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. The third category to earn CEU’s is in the area of clinical experience or peer reviewed posters or exhibits that demonstrate AOM knowledge and skills.
Any of these activities can earn you up to 10 credits, and some of them (such as authoring a book) can attain 30 credits. The way to submit these credits is to get a letter (on the organization letterhead) describing your activity and signed by someone in charge.

Personal Development
This is a minor area of course content where you can earn only a few units for each certification period, so it’s a good idea to keep track of these classes to make sure you aren’t earning points you can’t claim. These are non clinical practice management classes such as acupuncture business marketing, insurance billing, and accounting practices. You’ll also find topics such as qigong, tai chi, energetic exercise, and aromatherapy in this category.
California calls these “Category 2” classes, and you can claim up to 5 units for these topics during any 2 year period. The online category 2 classes are listed here, and you can view the live classes here.
The NCCAOM lists these topics as “PE-CW,” and allows a maximum of 15 units for each 4 year certification period. You can view a list of PE-CW classes here. The naming convention probably causes some confusion because PE-CW is called “Professional Enhancement Course Work,” while the larger category – for which you can 30 units – is called PE-AT, or “Professional Enhancement Activities.”

Safety & Ethics
The NCCAOM also requires a 2 unit class on Safety, and a 2 unit class on Ethics to qualify for recertification. You can view classes in both categories here.

CPR
Finally, the NCCAOM requires a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certificate every 4 years, and there are no units awarded for for this. You can view the CPR classes here.


How to submit your CEU’s
Certificate of Completion
After completing a class, you will receive a CEU certificate that describes the name of the class, the number of credits awarded, as well as your name and acupuncture license number. Other information on the certificate should include the class content category (such as AOM-BIO or Category 1), the CEU providers number and a signature. For a live seminar, you should receive the certificate in person by the end of the class. For online classes and webinars your certificate should be available as a pdf document in your user account area, sent to you via email, or both. To complete an online class you’ll also need to pass a 10 question quiz (usually a 70% score) before the certificate is issued. The licensing boards do this just to make sure you absorbed the online course content, in other words to discourage you from simply skipping the course. You’ll need to download the pdf certificate in order to store it locally on your own computer. If you’ve lost a certificate of completion, you can always request a duplicate from the course provider because they too are required to keep a copy of it for at least 4 years. If you want to submit credits within the NCCAOM Professional Enhancement Activities, you’ll need a description of the activity on a company letterhead.

Where to Find the Application Forms
You’ll find the NCCAOM recertification form online here. After a few pages of identity information you’ll find the PDA Worksheet, and this is where you’ll list all of the CEU courses you’ve taken – the date, program title, and number of units awarded for each. Actually, the PDA worksheet is the most clear and concise explanation of their class content requirements, so It’s a good idea to look at this well in advance. You will also need to attach your pdf files of CEU class certificates to the application.
A pdf copy of The California Acupuncture Board license renewal form is online here. You can download or print the form, but the actual application needs to be mailed in because there’s no online process to submit it. On the other hand, this is a much shorter form of just 2 pages. California doesn’t require you to attach copies of your CEU certificates. But you’ll need to fill in the form with the CEU provider name and the approved provider number. You can also find the CAB provider online here to get their number and approved courses.

Fees
The NCCAOM is encouraging paperless recertification, so they’re charging different fees. If you submit your application online, the fee is $255. On the other hand, if you submit your application in the mail, the fee is $355. If your certificate has lapsed, there’s an additional fee of $25 for 1 to 12 months late, $55 for 13 to 24 months late, and an additional $110 for 25 to 36 months late. You can look up your NCCAOM license status here.
The California Acupuncture Board charges a fee of $325 to recertify your license every 2 years. If your certificate has lapsed, there’s an additional delinquent fee of $25 for renewal. If you’re not sure about whether your California license is current you can do an online search here.

Are there free acupuncture CEU courses online?

Yes, if you’re a first time user on our site. Choose any of the acupuncture CEU classes on this page and click the button “register and get this CEU course free.” You’ll receive your CEU certificate of completion for both California Acupuncture Board and NCCAOM aafter completing the online quiz.
Even if you’re not a first time user, all of the acupuncture CEU classes on this page are free to watch. This allows you to evaluate or audit the class for free by watching the entire ceu video online. If you decide the course material is relevant and well presented, then you can purchase the class and take the required online quiz to get your CEU certificate.

References:

Online Acupuncture CEU Courses: The Pros and Cons

In order to keep a current license, acupuncture and oriental medicine practitioners are required to have continuing education units. As online ceu courses become increasingly popular and practicing acupuncturists find less free time between work and family life, the prospect of getting ceu’s on a computer screen seem to be gaining favor. As the technology of delivering online courses has advanced, web based learning has rapidly expanded during the past 10 years.

Here’s a comparison of the advantages of both online ceu courses and live face to face courses. 

What is an acupuncture ceu online course?
The advantages of attending a live seminar:
The advantages of online courses in continuing education
Studies on the effectiveness of online learning versus live classes

Guidelines for choosing an acupuncture ceu class

What is an acupuncture ceu online course?

This should be a simple answer, but actually there are three categories of courses. Whether or not you can claim units toward your acupuncture license re-certification depends on who’s in charge. NCCAOM, the national board, allows you to claim all 60 PDA points from any three of these course categories. The California state acupuncture board allows you to claim up to half of your 50 continuing education units from online courses, but the other half need to be from either live in person seminars or online webinars.
1. A live seminar: this is an in person, or face to face course that you physically attend in a classroom or conference hall. In most cases, you’ll reserve your seat in advance and pay a deposit. To get your CEU credits you’ll only need to sign in at the start and out at the end of the session to confirm that you’ve attended.
2. An online webinar: this is a course that’s actually happening in real time and you’re watching it on your computer screen. It’s defined as a “live” class because you can interact with the instructor (and sometimes other students) usually through a text chat window. To get your CEU credits, you’ll need to fill out an online multiple choice quiz and get a passing score (usually 7 questions out of 10).
3. An online course: this type of class is a recorded video that you watch on your computer screen. It can also be an audio podcast, or sometimes just reading material that you view in pdf format. You’ll need to complete a quiz and course evaluation to get your certificate of completion.

The advantages of attending a live seminar:
1. Networking: if it’s an annual symposium or large event, the potential to meet other practicing acupuncturists and like minded people is a major benefit. Often the most important opportunities will will be found outside the classroom, during social events, meals or class breaks.
2. Interaction: hands on classroom training and the live demonstration are essential for learning skills such as needle techniques, auricular acupuncture, electro acupuncture, cupping, or massage such as Tui Na. Live seminars afford the ability to ask questions and get immediate answers. In some cases you will also have the opportunity to try specific methods on a live person and this type of training is essential to the practice of acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine. A 2014 research paper published by the Journal of Continuing Education noted that, “Individual learners appreciated the flexibility and control, but experienced decreased motivation. Group learners described a richer learning experience.”2
3. Engagement: the ceu course completion rate is higher for live seminars. Let’s face it, when one makes the commitment to show up for a day long course, the credits and certificate of completion most often follow.

The advantages of online courses in continuing education:

1. Convenience: in most cases easy access is the major factor that drives online continuing education. 91% of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine professionals are in solo practice, according to a recent report published by the NCCAOM, and this means they have minimal free time after managing their business. A recorded video online course is always available, and it can be be viewed in short segments according to your work schedule. An audio course is even easier in this respect because you can be walking, driving a car, or engaged in most any activity while listening.
2. Cost: The cost per unit for an online ceu course is generally less, in comparison to a live seminar, but the real savings is in the cost of your time. There’s no time lost away from the office, in preparations or transportation to and from the class.
A larger choice of topics related to Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine: you may want to focus your continuing education on a specific topic such as fertility medicine, pain management, pediatrics, TCM theory, or women’s health. All of these are immediately available online so there’s more opportunity to gain clinical knowledge in a specific area.
3. Ability to review the course content: when the video or audio course content is online, you always have the opportunity to view it again. In an online ceu course, there are often supplemental notes such as the content of a powerpoint presentation which are available to download as well

Studies on the effectiveness of online learning versus live classes:

Recent studies on the topic of online education have shown some interesting results.
1. A survey of psychology undergraduate students concluded that, “students appreciated the convenience of completing written activities online in their own time, they also strongly preferred to discuss course content with peers in the classroom rather than online.” The conclusion was that course developers should aim for a hybrid approach so that students can benefit from the convenience of online courses but also experience the greater engagement of a face to face discussion.
2. Another viewpoint is found in a meta study published by the U.S. Department of Education, which provides a strong endorsement in favor of online learning. In a comparison, the study found that students who took all or part of their instruction online performed better, on average, than those taking the same course through face-to-face instruction. The ideal learning environment was among those who took “blended” courses. The combination of online learning and face-to-face instruction appeared to do best of all. In fact, many colleges report that enrollment in this sort of blended learning environment is where their main area of growth is.
3. In the evaluation of a web based learning experience, another study found that even if the course content remained the same, additional preparation time and planning are required to deliver value in an online continuing education class. Participants must be more self motivated to learn effectively in comparison with a face to face environment.


Guidelines for choosing an acupuncture ceu class

The bottom line in all of this is that you should choose an acupuncture CEU course for the quality of the content and its relevance to your practice. This is true regardless of whether it is presented online or in a face to face seminar. Some instructors are brilliant in both their knowledge and presentation, so whether you have the opportunity to see them in a live course or in an online video recording this is going to be a more engaging experience.

References:
1. Ward-Cook, Kory, and Tess Hahn. “2008 Job Task Analysis: A Report to the Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM) Profession.” NCCAOM, 2010.
2. Macneill, Heather, et al. “All for One and One for All: Understanding Health Professionals’ Experience in Individual Versus Collaborative Online Learning.” Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, vol. 34, no. 2, 2014, pp. 102–111., doi:10.1002/chp.21226.
3. Kemp, Nenagh, and Rachel Grieve. “Face-to-Face or Face-to-Screen? Undergraduates’ Opinions and Test Performance in Classroom vs. Online Learning.” Frontiers in Psychology, vol. 5, 2014, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01278.
4. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C., 2010. Cited online at https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf
5. Garrison, J. A., Schardt, C., & Kochi, J. K. (2000). Web-based distance continuing education: a new way of thinking for students and instructors. Bulletin of the Medical Library Association, 88(3), 211–217.