There are four kinds of registered TCM practitioners: Doctor of TCM (Dr.TCM), Registered TCM Practitioner (R.TCM.P.), Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac.), and Registered TCM Herbalist (R.TCM.H.). They have completed 5-7 years of post-secondary education with at least 3-5 years of academic study in traditional Chinese medicine. Before applying for registration in the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners of British Columbia (CTCMA) practitioners must complete academic studies; pass registration exams; and pass an exam that reviews legal, ethical, and professional matters; and meet other requirements.
Only TCM practitioners who are registered with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture can use the titles Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Dr.TCM), Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCM.P.), Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac.) or Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbalist (R.TCM.H.).
What do traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners do?
TCM is a health care system that combines modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. They promote, maintain and restore health and prevent, assess and treat diseases, conditions, disorders or imbalances.
- A registered Doctor of TCM (Dr.TCM) can practice acupuncture, and prescribe, mix (compound) or dispense Chinese herbal medicine. A registered Doctor of TCM has met training and examination requirements at a higher level than registrants with other titles.
- A Registered TCM Practitioner (R.TCM.P.) is authorized to practice acupuncture and prescribe, mix (compound) or dispense Chinese herbal medicine.
- A Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac.) is authorized to practice acupuncture.
- A Registered TCM Herbalist (R.TCM.H.) is authorized to prescribe, mix (compound), or dispense Chinese herbal medicine.
In addition to clinical treatments, practitioners of TCM include instructions to restore harmony at home and in your daily life. These may include food and lifestyle suggestions, meditation, self-massage, stretching and various physical exercises.
How do traditional Chinese medicine practitioners keep their skills up to date?
A registered TCM practitioner must renew their registration every year. They must meet the requirements of a continuing competence program and keep a record of their learning activities over the year so they can produce them if they are part of an annual audit.
What happens when I first visit a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner?
Your first visit with a TCM practitioner may take between 45 minutes and two hours. This time will include gathering information and doing a number of things to help make a diagnosis. These include looking at a number of areas of your body; listening to the sound of your voice and smelling your breath and skin; asking how you feel and your family’s health history; and touching your body to feel its temperature, body moisture, and taking your pulse. Practitioners of TCM identify and manage the cause of a disease, condition, disorder or imbalance, rather than symptoms.
How can I find a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner?
You do not need a referral from your physician to see a TCM practitioner. You can call and make an appointment on your own. You can find out if your TCM practitioner is registered with the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC by visiting the registry at www.ctcma.bc.ca
How do I pay for a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner?
Fees for a Chinese herbal medicine treatment are not covered by MSP so you will need to pay the practitioner directly. Acupuncture treatment by a practitioner of TCM is generally covered if you have premium insurance coverage or third-party medical coverage through your employer.
What if I have concerns about the care I received from a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioner?
As a patient you have the right to expect a professional standard of care from your TCM practitioner. If you think that has not happened, please contact
College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC
1664 West 8th Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6J 1V4
Where can I find more information about traditional Chinese medicine practitioners?