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What does a TCM/A practitioner do?


Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists look at the balance of body, mind, and spirit to determine how to restore the yin-yang balance (qi) and good health. They have extended clinical practice, advanced training, and substantive theoretical knowledge. TCM practitioners and acupuncturists are trained to diagnose various conditions and can help prevent disease and manage certain disorders and imbalances using a range of treatments.

Treatment can include acupuncture, cupping, acupressure, herbal medicines, massage, exercise, lifestyle counselling, and other holistic health approaches. You may have seen or heard TCM referred to as ‘complementary’ or ‘alternative’ medicine in place of the correct terminology of ‘traditional Chinese medicine.’

TCM Practitioner Activities

In a typical week, a TCM practitioner will undertake all or most of the following:

  • Within the framework of traditional Chinese medicine, diagnose patient diseases, physiological disorders, and injuries.
  • Explain procedures, risks, and benefits of treatments to patients.
  • According to diagnosis: 
    • prescribe and administer acupuncture, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS), scraping (Gua Sha), cupping therapy, moxibustion, acupressure, and auriculotherapy.
    • prescribe, and administer Chinese manipulative therapy (Tui Na), energy control therapy (Qi Gong), and laser therapy.
    • provide home care instructions, lifestyle counselling, and information about therapies such as energy control (Qi Gong), Chinese shadow boxing (Tai Ji Quan), and Chinese food cure recipes (Shi Liao).
    • prescribe and administer treatment using raw or granule herbs and other medicines or dietary supplements.
  • Evaluate and document patient progress.
  • Maintain patient records.

In developing optimal patient treatment plans, TCM practitioners may find it useful to collaborate with other healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, chiropractors, physicians, and psychologists in order to complement traditional treatment modalities.

TCM Registration Titles

TCM practitioners in BC must be registered by the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners & Acupuncturists of BC in order to practice.  The role of the regulatory college is to ensure safe, ethical practice of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture in this province.

TCM practitioners in BC generally work in private practice, including group or team practices, clinics, extended care facilities, and rehabilitation centres. Their registration titles can include:

Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner (R.TCM.P.)

Authorized to practise acupuncture, and prescribe, compound, or dispense Chinese herbal medicine.

Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac.)

Authorized to practise acupuncture.

Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbalist (R.TCM.H.)

Authorized to prescribe, compound, or dispense Chinese herbal medicine.

Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (Dr.TCM)

Authorized to practise acupuncture, and prescribe, compound, or dispense Chinese herbal medicine. Has met training and examination requirements at a higher level than registrants with titles listed above.

Student Registrant

Authorized to perform clinical treatment procedures ONLY while under the  supervision of a full registrant in a recognized training setting.