With the ability to study a wide range of subjects without ever leaving home, the appeal of an online university degree has been steadily growing. Many fields of study can now be explored via the Internet, with some degree programs offered completely online. The area of holistic and Eastern medicine is one that has somewhat reluctantly moved into the online arena, although there continues to be some question of whether these disciplines can be effectively taught in an online curriculum. Acupuncture is one such study that is available online, but there are some important considerations before pursuing this sort of online university degree.
Is an Online University Degree in Acupuncture a Marketable Choice?
Those interested in pursuing an online university degree in acupuncture must first determine whether there is a viable profession waiting once the education is complete. Eastern medicine is much less used in the United States than Western techniques, although the prevalence of Eastern healing methods is steadily increasing. The National Center for Alternative and Complementary Medicine demonstrates this fact on their website, with statistics that show the number of adults who have used alternative medicine has increased from 36 percent in 2002, to 38.3 percent in 2007.
However, the increase involves a wide range of alternative therapies, including non-vitamin treatments, massage, meditation and yoga. All of those therapies are more widely used than acupuncture, and may reflect a larger portion of the reported increase.
The American College of Chinese Traditional Chinese Medicine may show somewhat more encouraging results for those looking to pursue an online university degree in acupuncture. This organization estimates that there are currently 12,000 licensed acupuncturists practicing in the United States. In addition, 43 states offer licensing for the profession, with average annual salaries ranging from $45,000 to $122,000. The organization also cites statistics showing one in every 10 American adults have used acupuncture, with amounts to thousands who might be seeking that alternative treatment at one time or another.
The Problem with an Online University Degree
While it is possible to pursue an online university degree in acupuncture, the program might not offer every component students require to become successful professionals in their field. The International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork published a study on online education in the fields of chiropractic, acupuncture and massage therapy. The study found that those in these fields do not have the necessary information at this time to make an educated decision about distance education. They also do not have the online resources or training to be successful online instructors.
When searching for an online university degree program in acupuncture, the best rule of thumb might be to look for a hybrid program that incorporates both online and classroom instruction. This ensures students have personal contact with instructors, as well as practical clinical experience in acupuncture techniques. Those who simply need recertification may indeed be able to take advantage of a fully online course to keep credentials current. With many options available, students can now pursue this field no matter what their current professional responsibilities might be.
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