Many people have a misconception about the amount of education an Acupuncturist receives, and the rigorous testing and licensure requirements that a graduate must meet prior to being able to practice Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine in a particular state.

What kind of education does acupuncture require?

Traditionally, students of Acupuncture were apprentices who studied for many, many years by the side of a seasoned master.  Only when the mentor said the student was ready, would he or she begin treating patients alone. Although this method still exists in some cases, the United States now has approximately 50 accredited schools that teach Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Some of these schools provide programs for Acupuncture on its own, meaning it is an abbreviated program that only covers needling. Others provide a full education in Oriental Medicine, including deeper medical theory, adjunct Oriental therapies, and the extensive theory and practice of Chinese Herbal Medicine. Following the degree program, graduates must successfully pass a series of 3 or 4 national board exams (depending on state requirements) and apply for licensure in their state. State licensure may also require a written and/or practical exam. Finally, the graduate can apply for recognition from the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).

What kind of education has Tanner received?

Tanner earned a Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine (MSOM) from Southwest Acupuncture College (SWAC) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is licensed to practice in the states of Wisconsin and Colorado and is a NCCAOM Diplomat of Acupuncture.

A Masters of Science in Oriental Medicine is a full-time, four-year masters degree including over 3,000 hours of study and over 600 hours of supervised clinical practice. The college describes it as “well-rounded professional degree program designed to gradually expose the emerging practitioner to the uses of Oriental and Western medical models of the human body, as well as the underlying philosophy, theory and clinical application of acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.” The professional Master of Science in Oriental Medicine program of Southwest Acupuncture College is Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM), which is the recognized accrediting agency for the approval of programs preparing Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine practitioners.

In addition to classical training at SWAC, Tanner pursued apprenticeship programs and continuing education to supplement his degree. He followed his passion for the Japanese style of Acupuncture and participated in an 8-month long advanced training program in Japanese Acupuncture and Palpatory Diagnosis with Sensei Kuwahara. Japanese Acupuncture has a much gentler approach to needling and places heavy emphasis on touch and energetic sensitivity, especially through the pulse and abdominal diagnosis techniques. Tanner has pursued continuing education with many different teachers in their respective specialties, including Thea Elijah, Jeffrey Yuen, Kiiko Matsumoto, covering topics such as recovery, endocrinology, moxibustion, feng shui for health, and Japanese Acupuncture. He has also studied the Tashihari lineage of Shonishin with Tanioka Sensei. Shonishin is the art of Japanese Pediatric Acupuncture, an effective non-needling technique for children.

One highlight of Tanner’s MSOM program was the varied clinical experience he received. He worked within specialty fields such as veterans, OB/GYN, pediatrics, and herbal medicine. He became particularly dedicated to the school’s unique externship program at the Santa Fe Indian Hospital, a high volume free clinic for patients covered by Indian Health Services. It was in this environment, working with patients who had severe medical issues in an in- and outpatient setting, where Tanner developed his results-oriented medical style. He discovered his love of using Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to significantly improve the quality of life for individuals who are severely limited by their pain or medical condition.

Additional Education

Prior to studying at Southwest Acupuncture College, Tanner received an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.  He studied Communications, with an emphasis on Interpersonal Communications, and minored in International Studies.

While living in Santa Fe, surrounded by a vibrant community of healers and medical practitioners, Tanner met Etienne Peirsman and became inspired to study Craniosacral Therapy. Etienne is among the first generation of Craniosacral teachers, and opened his own schools in Belgium and The Netherlands after examining the Upledger and Biodynamic schools of thought. Etienne’s approach is heart-centered and emphasizes the idea that “Cranio is for Everybody!” Craniosacral Therapy is a gentle yet powerful form of hands-on bodywork that blends beautifully with acupuncture. Tanner has over 250 hours in Craniosacral Therapy education from the New Mexico Academy of Healing Arts, and often uses it during acupuncture treatments. Learn more about Craniosacral Therapy.