How to Become an Acupuncturist
Acupuncture jobs provide many opportunities for developing meaningful interpersonal relationships with clients, as well as a truly dynamic variation in the type of client being treated. Through research and interviews, Allied Health World works to provide aspiring acupuncturists with the information they’ll need to get started on the educational path to a rewarding career in the healing arts:
Take these steps to become an acupuncturist:
- Undergo acupuncture therapy yourself. This is the obvious means by which to become intimately familiar with the process, Doctor/patient dynamic, and effectiveness of this healing art.
- Research the licensing requirements for the state in which you live. These differ quite a bit in terms of formal training and educational expectations, so this will likely influence the educational path you pursue. Most states require a master’s degree as the final step to practicing acupuncture independently.
- Pursue an Associate of Science or Bachelor of Science degree as a precursor to formal acupuncture training at the master’s level. Bachelor’s programs aren’t very common; however, aspiring acupuncturists have the option of pursing three-year Master of Science programs after completing a two-year Associate of Science degree.
- Consider acupuncture certification on a national level through the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine). Although this is elective in some states, it is more often than not a requirement for state licensure.
- Begin practicing acupuncture! Graduates can find acupuncture jobs in an established acupuncture specialty clinic, a partnered practice with bodywork professionals, physicians, chiropractors, or naturopaths. More ambitious practitioners can also choose to open an office of their own and enjoy the unique rewards of an independent practice.
What is the importance of client assessment?
Acupuncturists look to accomplish a few things through the process of assessing clients. Beyond learning the exact nature of the condition clients are seeking treatment for, acupuncturists must also gain an understanding of the clients general medical history including any predisposition for adverse reaction to treatment. Because acupuncture is quite gentle and non-invasive by nature, this is often considered a formality, but is an important component nonetheless.
In an effort to determine the nature, severity, and even the cause of the condition being treated general health related questions are asked of the client in the course of the assessment interview. The client’s level of appetite, current diet, and history of food allergy or sensitivity is determined. Clients are probed for information on lifestyle, regularity of exercise, sleep patterns, habitual behaviors, menstrual cycles and the level of stress they may be experiencing.
After concluding the interview, acupuncturists then move on to physical assessment, which most often involves examining a patient’s complexion for pallor, or discoloration that may be caused by illness or emotional distress. The tongue is examined just as it would be by a physician looking for discoloration or coating. Even the tenor of a patient’s voice during interview can offer some indication of the nature and severity of their condition.
What is electro-acupuncture?
Electro-acupuncture was developed in 1934 with the knowledge that acupuncture points on the human body have a higher level of electrical conductivity and offer less resistance to electric current when it is introduced. Some acupuncture schools even present electro-acupuncture as the foremost contemporary method. The electrical effect that is produced within the fascia, or connective tissue, when an acupuncture point is needled or pressed is referred to piezoelectricity. This piezoelectricity, or “piezo” as it is called, is quantifiable and was historically stimulated by gentle manipulation of the inserted needle before the advent and widespread use of electricity.
To address certain conditions the treatment performed by acupuncturists calls on them to maneuver inserted needles in order to achieve the desired effect through stimulation. It was discovered that by introducing an ever so slight electrical current the same effect is produced with a greater degree of consistency. That is to say that the introduction of electrical current through the inserted needle can mimic manual manipulation, but in a more regular and predictable pattern of stimulation.
Electro-acupuncture has been embraced for its ability to better control the frequency and amount of stimulation given to an acupuncture point such that treatment can be refined by increasing or decreasing the amount of current being introduced, as well as the frequency with which it is introduced. In this way electro-acupuncture can produce a stronger stimulus as needed without the adverse affects occasionally associated with twirling a needle, or lifting and re-thrusting it into the acupuncture point as is commonly done with manual manipulation.
What are some medical conditions that acupuncture is used to remedy?
Acupuncture has been used for millennia to address issues related to pain, sickness and even infertility. The World Health Organization (WHO), which generally only gives credence to conventional forms of medicine, has recognized acupuncture as being an effective way to relieve pain, and, in fact, treat with the intent of curing, many common medical conditions. There are forty-three specific conditions the WHO prescribes the use of acupuncture to treat. These are disorders associated with the gastrointestinal system, urological system, respiratory system, circulatory system, as well as gynecological conditions.
Some of the diseases and ailments historically treated by acupuncturists, but which The World Health Organization has recognized as effective, have come to be known by such modern monikers as colitis, trigeminal neuralgia, asthma, Meniere’s disease, and arthritis.
Perhaps even more interesting is the fact that many conditions that are much more contemporary additions to the medical lexicon are now frequently treated with acupuncture. This gives strong evidence to the fact that this ancient healing art is not only effective in all its applications, but that it is also ever-evolving to meet the needs of modern man. Among these newer additions are sinusitis, tennis elbow, sciatica, and fibromyalgia.
In addition to treating disease and mitigating pain caused by injury, acupuncture is also used successfully in treating behavioral addictions including compulsive behavior such as overeating and sex addiction. Acupuncture also has a very impressive success rate in treating chemical addictions to drugs, alcohol, and tobacco. Additionally, acupuncture is used in treating the pain caused by menstrual cramps, migraines, tension headaches, as well as back, joint, and muscular pain.