Frequently Asked Questions

What is Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA)?

The Battlefield Acupuncture technique is a unique auricular (ear) Acupuncture procedure developed in 2001 by then Air Force Colonel Richard Niemtzow, M.D, to train Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners, and other providers to treat pain throughout the MHS and VHA.  This technique provides a much needed alternative in cases where the initiation or continuation of opioid analgesics is deemed clinically risky, in cases where current medications and other therapies are not working, and cases where the existence of and potential for substance abuse, addiction and tolerance issues make medication therapies impractical.

The BFA course – usually 1-2 half days – teaches non-acupuncturist clinical providers the BFA technique. Training in BFA offers providers the opportunity to enhance their clinical practice skills in musculoskeletal and pain management conditions by adding Battlefield Acupuncture technique to their “tool bag.” It is hoped that this technique will be a primary or secondary modality to reduce the use of opioids and habit forming drugs.

What is Acupuncture Training Across Clinical Settings (ATACS)?

In April 2013, the Health Executive Committee (HEC) Pain Management Working Group granted Joint Incentive Fund (JIF) dollars to the Defense and Veterans Center for Integrative Pain Management (DVCIPM) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) National Pain Management Office to carry out a three year project entitled Acupuncture Training Across Clinical Settings (ATACS).  ATACS completed its mission is to develop, pilot, evaluate, and implement a uniform tiered Acupuncture education and training program for Military Health System (MHS) and VHA providers in in August 2016. 

Who is eligible for BFA Training?

Examples of eligible DoD/VA Healthcare providers include, but are not limited to, Physicians Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, Physician, Registered Nurse, Medic/Corpsman, Physical and Occupational Therapist.  Your local credentialing authority will be able to provide further guidance on eligibility.

I am interested in hosting a BFA Training at my Medical Treatment Facility, what is required?

The success of this groundbreaking project is dependent on the engagement and support of command leadership.  By consenting to host, the local command agrees to allow their trained providers to be privileged to practice BFA and utilize the tools associated with the training (the Defense and Veterans Pain Rating Scale) in their clinical practice.  BFA hosts will provide training space for up to 25 provider-students. Training includes a didactic as well as hands-on needle demonstration so space should include tables and chairs and an area for live model demonstration.  Ideally, the host site would coordinate the inclusion of patients experiencing pain for the live model demonstration.  Please contact Richard Niemtzow at for more information. 

Who is eligible to teach BFA?

A BFA Faculty training course is available for qualified providers.  General requirements include completion of an accredited 300 hour Medical Acupuncture course and a BFA training course.  It is also essential that BFA Faculty-trainees be utilizing BFA in their current clinical practice.

Once trained, how do I complete the BFA credentialing/privileging process?

Currently, each MTF makes the determination about BFA privileging.  If your local medical staff office or credentialing department have any questions, they can contact for more information.

Can I earn CME credits by taking the BFA course?

Continuing Medical Education credits may be available for upcoming trainings.  Email for more information.

What research has been done to assess BFA’s efficacy?

Alimi D, MD, Geissmann A, MD, Gardeur D, MD. Auricular Acupuncture Stimulation Measure on Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Medical Acupuncture. 2002:13(2);18-21

Goertz C, Niemtzow R, Burns S, Fritts M, Crawford C, Jonas W.  Auricular Acupuncture in the Treatment of Acute Pain Syndromes: A Pilot Study. Mil Med. 2006:171(10); 1010-1014

Niemtzow RC, Burns SM, Cooper J, Libretto S, Walter JAG, Baxter J., Acupuncture Clinical Pain Trial in a Military Medical Center: Outcomes, Medical Acupuncture. 2008:20(4); 255-261

Burns S, York A, Niemtzow RC, Garner BK, Steele N, Walter JAG.  Moving Acupuncture to the Front Line of Military Medical Care; A Feasibility Study, Medical Acupuncture. 2013:25(1);48-54