When may acupuncturists use the title “doctor”?

May acupuncturists who have obtained doctorate degrees in acupuncture from another state or from a foreign country hold themselves out as “doctor” in a clinical setting?

In 1995, the Texas Medical Board requested the Attorney General to review the above question.  The Attorney General issued an opinion (DM-336) that stated, in part, that an acupuncturist ‘may use the title “doctor” so long as the acupuncturist uses the title in accordance with section 4 of the Healing Art Identification Act.’ 

Section 4 of the Healing Art Identification Act has been since codified as Sec. 104.004 of the Tex. Occ. Code Ch. 104.  That section provides that:

In using the title "doctor" as a trade or professional asset or on any manner of professional identification, including a sign, pamphlet, stationery, or letterhead, or as a part of a signature, a person other than a person described by Section 104.003 shall designate the authority under which the title is used or the college or honorary degree that gives rise to the use of the title.

Therefore, if an acupuncturist wishes to use the title “doctor” the acupuncturist must clearly indicate to all where he or she obtained the degree.  In addition, the acupuncturist must make sure not to mislead the public that he or she is entitled to practice medicine. 

Do’s and Don’ts

A licensed acupuncturist who holds a Doctor of Oriental Medicine degree (and therefore is a Oriental Medical Doctor (OMD)) from a U.S. state or country may use in any written material “Dr. John Doe, L.Ac., O.M.D.” or “Dr. John Doe, O.M..D., L.Ac.”, but not “Dr. John Doe, L.Ac.”

A licensed acupuncturist who holds a master’s level degree from this state, another state or another country may not use the degree to hold himself out as a “doctor” or use the title “Dr.” in any written material.

A licensed acupuncturist who holds a medical degree from another state or country but who is not licensed by the Texas Medical Board to practice medicine may not use the term “M.D.” unless they indicate they are not licensed to practice medicine in Texas.