Program Overview

Mission, Goals & Objectives

POCA Tech prepares graduates to practice as independent healthcare practitioners. Our educational objectives are for POCA Tech graduates to be able to:

Patient receiving acupuncture
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of acupuncture theory within its social and historical context; to apply critical reflection to all aspects of acupuncture theory and practice; and to be able to pass the relevant NCCAOM exams, or equivalent;
  2. Identify and model all functions of a community acupuncture clinic; administer appropriate styles of community acupuncture; evaluate patients’ needs and collaborate with patients to create effective treatment plans; establish a therapeutic relationship with patients; have good needling skills; demonstrate an understanding of their ethical and legal responsibilities; and identify and implement best practices for financially sustainable clinic operations;
  3. Model a trauma-informed and safety-focused practice of acupuncture; identify business policies and procedures that address social inequities in healthcare access and outcomes;
  4. Enter their careers as healthcare providers not unreasonably burdened by debt from the POCA Tech program; in order to support this objective, POCA Tech will keep the total cost of tuition and associated program expenses under the amount a graduate can reasonably expect to earn in their first year of practice (about $25,000);
  5. Demonstrate information and research literacy in order to successfully participate in the development of Liberation Acupuncture as a school of thought and practice; and
  6. Demonstrate strong commitment to serve their communities as licensed acupuncturists after graduation.

Program Overview

Graduates will receive a Master’s level Certificate in Acupuncture (not a Master’s degree).
Each cohort is capped at 20 students, and admissions are rolling.
CCE&PM: 91 hours
Western Biomedical Classes: 420 hours of co-requisites (30 semester or 45 quarter credits) and 38.5 hours of instruction completed at POCA Tech
Acupuncture Classes: 769.5 hours
Clinical Phase: 650 hours
Administrative Hours: 180 hours
Total: 2149 hours

Frequently Asked Questions

How does your school schedule work exactly? This module thing is kind of confusing.

POCA Tech has 3 types of instruction:

Patient with acupuncture needles in head
  1. Regular classes. These happen in our classroom in Portland. Each student cohort meets for 4 days a month, 10 months of the year, for three years.  The modules take place Saturday through Tuesday, 9 am to 5 pm, so you will spend 28 hours a month in class or 280 hours a year, for three years. So for example, Cohort 1 meets from the first Saturday of the month through the following Tuesday, Cohort 2 meets from the second Saturday of the month through the following Tuesday, etc. 
  2. Biomedical co-requisite classes. 420 hours of science. Many students take these before applying to POCA Tech; others take them concurrently during the first two years. You can take these at any accredited institution, including online.
  3. Clinical training, which consists of 270 hours of Observation spread over 3 years, and 500 hours of Clinical Internship during the second/third year. This training is individually scheduled. At this time you must plan to move to Portland OR in order to do your clinical internship for at least 1 1/2 years. Exactly how long your clinical training takes will depend on a variety of factors, including your availability and the availability of clinic shifts.

Do people work at the same time as going to school?

Yes, almost all students do. The POCA Tech program is designed to allow people to keep working by condensing class time into four days a month and keeping the class schedule consistent over three years. That said, it’s VERY demanding to balance work, class time, homework, co-requisites, and clinical training.

Is this a 3 or a 4 year program?

The POCA Tech program is designed to be done in 3 years but you can take as long as 6. It all depends on how you balance the demands of completing the classroom work, the co-requisites and your clinical training with the demands of your life.

Can I transfer to POCA Tech from another acupuncture school?

Probably not, but please inquire if you have a specific situation where we might be able to work around the fact that the POCA Tech program is so different from most schools’ programs that it generally works much better for people to start at the beginning.

Why do POCA acupuncturists call themselves punks?

The short answer is in this abstract for an article written for the Journal of Chinese Medicine, Making Buckets from Ming Vases:

Student receiving acupuncture

Community acupuncture – as practiced by self-styled ‘acupunks’ – is a radically different vision and philosophy for the practice of acupuncture in the West. Patients are seen in a group setting, which allows for treatment to be conducted via a high-volume, low-cost sustainable business model. Spa settings and excessive Chinese medicine theory are unnecessary with such a model of treatment, as the needles do all the necessary work. This article describes the vision, aims and underlying philosophy of the community acupuncture movement.

Is POCA Tech accredited?


Why does POCA Tech offer a certificate rather than a degree?

We offer a certificate rather than a degree for philosophical reasons. We are striving to be a vocational school preparing students for a specific occupation: community acupuncture. The POCA Tech Master’s Certificate in Acupuncture is for all intents and purposes, as far as we know, equivalent to a Master’s Degree in Acupuncture because it meets the same ACAHM standards.

Does POCA Tech offer federal financial aid?

No. POCA Tech has a commitment to try to keep program costs under $25,000, and oddly enough, offering federal financial aid would torpedo that plan. Significant administrative infrastructure is required to offer federal financial aid, and we’ve been advised by knowledgeable people that getting into the business of student loans could cause our tuition to double. So far, a number of POCA Tech students have managed to get through school with a combination of saving and working and payment plans in the vicinity of $600 a month; doubling our tuition would put an end to all that and require the majority of students to take out loans to go to POCA Tech.

It’s similar to the reason that the community acupuncture model is designed to run without insurance billing; once you get a third party involved, everything gets much more expensive, and you also end up dependent on that third party. In an effort to save people money, you can end up charging them more and sacrificing your own independence.

What form of acupuncture do you teach?  TCM, Classical, other?  

The purpose of our program is to teach students to handle a high volume of patients. There are a lot of people out there who need acupuncture; people are literally dying for lack of access to non-pharmaceutical pain management. There’s no one right way to do acupuncture, and one of the most important attributes for a practitioner in a high volume setting is flexibility. Therefore, what we teach is 10 different approaches to acupuncture: auricular, scalp, Miriam Lee’s Great 10, Eight Extraordinaries, Jingei, Balance Method, Master Tung, Dr. Tan’s 12 Magic, Korean 4-Point, and TCM. We want our graduates to cultivate flexibility and to have a range of options.

I really like the concept of community acupuncture, but come on, isn’t private room acupuncture actually better/more effective/more appropriate for complex problems?

There is no research that shows any type of acupuncture is better than any other type, either in general, or for certain types of problems. What research there is on acupuncture efficacy suggests that the most important factor is frequency of treatment. Some individuals may prefer to receive private room acupuncture; some individuals may prefer to receive community acupuncture; some individuals may get better results from specific kinds of acupuncture treatment (local, distal, long needle retention, short needle retention). Humans are very diverse, and there’s a big range of possible responses to acupuncture, from “no thanks” to “meh” to “utterly life changing”. This is true no matter what style of acupuncture you use. There are things you can’t provide in private room acupuncture that you can provide in community acupuncture, and vice versa. However, if you truly believe that community acupuncture is an inferior/reductive version of private room acupuncture, do not apply to POCA Tech; you will not be able to learn what this program is designed to teach.