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How to Become an Acupuncturist

how to become acupuncturist

How to Become an Acupuncturist

Acupuncture as a branch of alternative medicine has its roots in Chinese culture. Practicing it means inserting and manipulating needles inside ones’ body. Having been around debatably since 305 B.C., acupuncture has improved and evolved over time. Today, many regard acupuncture as a good way to relieve pain and many other health ailments. Still yet many do not approve of it. What can someone expect who wants to practice acupuncture as a career?

What is an Acupuncturist?

Acupuncture is an extensive branch of alternative medicine, and those who wish to practice it must be licensed to do so. Like many other careers, the licensure for acupuncture varies from a state to another. Thin and clean acupuncture needles inserted into specific points in the body are said to promote better health by stimulating the natural healing process of the body. Some doctors, nurses and chiropractors could practice acupuncture if they are licensed to do so.

However, an acupuncturist does not prescribe medicine. Their responsibility is to promote better health with acupuncture needles and stimulation in the form of heat or electricity. But while some people don’t accept acupuncture as a branch of medicine, the World Health Organization (WHO) holds acupuncture in distinction as they believe that it relieves people of some conditions that may hinder good health. It is an acupuncturist’s responsibility to refer a patient to a doctor if they do not see any signs of improvement.

What do acupuncturists treat? Pain relief is one of the most popular benefits of acupuncture. As it relieves pain, acupuncture may be used to treat joint and muscle pains, sprains, arthritis, headaches, strokes, indigestion, asthma, and diarrhea. There are still many other diseases not stated here that it could cure. Acupuncture may also be used to alleviate and/or treat substance abuse.

Acupuncture has been employed since ancient times to heal a vast range of health problems such as body pain, infertility, despair, nervousness and headache, by inserting sterilized tiny needles in various concern related pressure points.

This medical treatment can be performed by a licensed specialist in healthcare who undergoes a formal extensive training of understanding the classifications of the parts of the body and anatomy. This career path requires a master’s degree in acupuncture and a state license.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation of Acupuncture and Moxibustion Societies (WFAS) determine guidelines on the fundamental education, training and safety in acupuncture. It is essential to adhere to these rules as all acupuncturists need recognize the difference in educational requirement between a physician and a licensed acupuncturist.

The WHO and WFAS proposed that the minimum prerequisite for training and learning acupuncture should be based on the applicant’s former education and future application of acupuncture.

Educational Requirements to Be An Acupuncturist

Acupuncture requires exhaustive study of the human body as well as the physiological effects of the healing in the body. Therefore, all who seeks to complete an acupuncture program needs to have a medical background preferably in psychology, biology or neurobiology. Aspirant to acupuncture programs should possess an undergraduate degree; even an associate’s degree is sufficient as a bachelor’s degree in acupuncture is not usually available.

Further requisites for an acupuncture program comprise of Hepatitis B, tuberculosis skin tests and CPR certification since the apprentice are required to partake in clinical internships. The additional common requirements would consist of an essay, a letter of recommendation and GRE scores. The best contender for the acupuncture education program should be able to display exceptional observation, communication and motor skills. They also need to be relaxed while working independently and are required to have consideration for others.

Educational Degree for An Acupuncturist

For an acupuncturist, a master’s degree course forms the foundation educational training. The master level programs involve 3 to 4 years of education during which the student is trained to handle the acupuncture tools and apply the treatment techniques such as needles, cupping, gua sha and moxibustion. The Master degree also consists of an all-inclusive study of the background of traditional Chinese medication, herbal medication, biochemistry, pathology, conventional medication, nutrition, various types of therapies, analysis and treatments.

Under the supervision of a qualified professional the trainees learn to discuss issues with a patient, carry out a physical assessment and conclude at a healing plan. As an intern, the trainees obtain decisive judgment skills and analytic abilities in areas like immune disorder, anxiety and persistent pain. A qualified Acupuncturist mostly works in clinics, medical centers, hospitals, private practices etc.

Certifications and Authorizations

The National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) provides certification for the Acupuncturists. Though Acupuncturist licenses are administered by the state, several states adopt the NCCAOM exams and needs that aspirant to earn NCCAOM certification to gain their licenses.

However, for certification, NCCAOM requires graduation from an ACAOM recognized course, including transcripts and an assessment. Re-certification processes can be taken after an interval of ten years and involves a fee, re-assessment, ongoing education courses and also takes in to account that the existing license in good repute.

The American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine conducts yearly seminars and invites acupuncturists to attend speeches from eminent physicians and other related professionals. The Society for Acupuncture Research organizes research based seminars to educate acupuncturists on techniques for care, effectual procedures and updates on new researches.

Acupuncture interns can interact with other interns and experts via various internet based forums which forms an excellent source for information and discussion.

How to Become an Acupuncturist?

Different states would always have different rules on different skills and careers. An acupuncture career in Oregon, for example, would require that you graduate from an acupuncture program which has been accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Then, you would need to pass 3 written exams. After this, you would need to finish the course on Clean Needle Technique. The Oregon Medical Board will only process your license if you apply as an applicant for the Oregon Acupuncture License. The decision most commonly arrives after a month and a half. Becoming an acupuncturist in other states comprises of a similar procedure.

An acupuncturist is a complementary healthcare practitioner who uses a holistic approach in maintaining health and managing diseases with a goal of improving the overall well-being. An acupuncturist uses TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) to alleviate pain. This is done by inserting thin needles along the body’s energy vessels, or meridians, in order to release energy, stimulate the body, and relieve tension. These health providers typically treat patients who suffer from asthma, headaches, arthritis, stress, lethargy, carpal tunnel syndrome, addiction, menstrual discomfort, and many more.Requirements for the licensure of acupuncturists vary from state to state, but typically include an advanced acupuncture coursework, a board certification and an undergraduate degree. Read on for some sensible tips on how to become an acupuncturist.

  1. Step- Perform Preliminary Evaluation. Make a thorough research on your state’s licensing requirements to become an acupuncturist. You may use the internet to browse for the National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Alliance official site as they have a lists of accredited acupuncture programs, colleges and schools of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. They also list licensing requirements for each state.
  2. Step- Complete the Prerequisites and/or Undergraduate Education. Keep in mind that you will need to attend full-time coursework for about 2 to 4 years. Courses will cover anatomy and physiology, biology and psychology. Some states have undergraduate degrees or prerequisites that you must obtain first-hand. If you aspire to become an acupuncturist, you’ll have to understand the various meridians of the body – an entirely different theory of medicine from a medical school. Many acupuncture students are English, psychology, sociology and computer science majors. Although an undergraduate degree isn’t absolutely necessary to attend many acupuncture schools, it’s still highly recommended. Grab a copy of your undergraduate transcript so that you will know exactly how many credits you have in each class you’ve completed.
  3. Step- Complete the Required Acupuncture Coursework. It is essential to confirm that your preferred college is accredited by the ACAOM or Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Additionally, you are only allowed to apply for federal student loans if you came from an -approved acupuncture school. Remember that the status of each school is not permanent; it is usually reviewed every few years. The ACAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine) creates the test for licensure exam and requires that the candidate’s school is ACAOM-approved.
  4. Step- Keep on Learning. After completing an acupuncture coursework, you may continue to further study in a medical career of Chinese herbology. This is a great adjunct to acupuncture as a therapy. Aspiring candidates should not have any fear of needles, and should be able to reassure patients that the therapy employs beneficial effects, not just another pseudo-scientific management. It is also good to study APM (Acupuncture Practice Management), Business and Marketing Success Principles. Becoming an acupuncturist entails an opportunity to be a Solo-Practitioner, Entrepreneur or Business Owner. In other words, you have a chance to be your own boss!

How Long Does It Take to Become An Acupuncturist?

There are a few routes to becoming an acupuncturist, and how long it takes depends on what a person’s goals are. For most programs in acupuncture, the courses take about three to four years assuming the student attends school during summers. Although most schools offer diplomas, certificates and degrees at the master’s level, there are schools that offer concurrent bachelor’s and master’s degree programs. Many doctors certify to become acupuncturists as well through certificate programs to add to the services that they are able to offer. However, most acupuncturists focus exclusively on acupuncture and other forms of Eastern or alternative treatments.

Find an Accredited School

Once a person has decided to become an acupuncturist, the next step is to research accredited schools. Accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (the ACAOM) is important because this agency is recognized by the Department of Education, which means that a student who wishes to attend the school can get federal student aid. Accreditation is also important because 40 states require an acupuncturist to be licensed, but only those who attend accredited schools are eligible for licensing.

Undergraduate Education

A doctor or dentist who wishes to become an acupuncturist can complete a certificate program with about 300 hours of training and education. Others who wish to enter an acupuncturist degree program should complete a bachelor’s degree, which usually takes four years, and then enroll in a master’s degree program in either acupuncture or Oriental medicine.

Graduate Education

A degree in acupuncture will usually take about three years, while a degree in Oriental medicine may take up to four years because of the added courses in herbal medicine. It is a good idea for a student to check the requirements of their individual states because some states require students to take courses in herbal medicine as well to become acupuncturists.

State Licensure

The next step to becoming an acupuncturist is getting a state license to practice. In some states, that means getting extra clinical hours and in other states, applicants have to sit for the Council of College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s Clean Needle Technique exam. Like any healthcare career, it is important to follow the regulations of the state in which a person wishes to practice to avoid legal trouble.

Program Costs

An acupuncturist program’s costs vary depending on the kind of program a student attends and the length of time it takes to study. A certificate program, for example, might cost $5000 while a degree program might cost $6000 to $12,000 per year–which for a four year program adds up to a cost of about $48,000. Students who attend an accredited program may be able to get the funding for their education through federal and state grants and loans as well as through scholarships, which can cut down the costs drastically. Although the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not record the average salaries of acupuncturists, most charge $40 to $70 per hour long session. With their job outlook and earning potential, the cost of attending school to become an acupuncturist is worth it for most practitioners.

Acupuncturst Salary- What Can You Expect

Acupuncture is a tough profession because you really have to master knowledge of all the pressure points in the human body. An acupuncturist must be a real expert when it comes to needles and manipulating them appropriately in order to relieve painful symptoms and promote the general well-being of clients. This type of medical treatment is greatly advised for those who are about to undergo or are presently undergoing chemo and other post-surgical operations.

Average Salary of Acupuncturists

This is actually a very lucrative career, plus if you are good in your work, you will be able to have higher benefits and incentives. Research shows that an acupuncturist receives an income of at least $43,000 up to as high as $60,000 on a yearly basis but this number can still be increased to $72,000 depending on the location of the medical clinic where you are working. Some states have better pay than other states.

Bonuses are also given in this profession and if you are an asset to the company, you can get as high as 16.6% clear-cut fee based on the services you have performed. For those individuals who have been in this line of work for one to four years, the average number of weeks for your vacation time is 0.2; for those who have been working for five to nine years, a period of 1.2 weeks and for professionals who worked for over ten years, you can expect to have a minimum of 1.4 weeks as your paid vacation leave.

Advantages and Drawbacks of Being an Acupuncturist

One advantage of studying acupuncture is the fact that you are giving an alternative form of medication to people who really needs help. Surgical operations are too painful for these people to bear and they rely on the services of an acupuncturist to alleviate their pain. This is the reason why these professionals are being given high salaries for their practice. It is not easy to become an acupuncturist and it would even take years before one can be called an expert in his job.

However, the main drawback of acupuncture is that you cannot afford to commit mistakes whenever you insert that needle. Remember that there are negative consequences and the needle can be lethal if injected on the wrong part of the body. Needless to say, it is imperative that an acupuncturist should perform his services in an accurate and meticulous manner.

If you want your acupuncture career to flourish, you need to do things that would keep it as such. Recession and businesses do not go too well, as you might know. Free consultations are one of the best things to give out during a time when people are stingier with their money. Rewards for your customers are very nice things to do too, not to mention that they keep your customers loving your service more. When they refer their friends to you, make sure you give them something in return. Promos, especially when good, make clients coming back for more. The Internet is a very good way to get more clients as well as keep in touch with your existing customers.

The Pros of Being an Acupuncturist

The pros of being an acupuncturist are that you get paid more with more experience. An acupuncturist who just graduated could make anywhere from $45,000 or more depending on which hospital or center that they get hired at. However, what is nice about this career is that you can even earn more than $100,000 after one year of fully graduating. Money is really being earned in this business. What’s even better is that once you have 10 years of experience under your belt, you could be making $200,000 to $300,000 per year. Another thing that makes this a beautiful career is the amazing lessons you’ll learn about natural healing. For some, they never learn the keys to a fulfilled life. But acupuncturists know all there needs to know about getting healed and staying as young as possible. What I also noticed is that many of these people retire pretty early, as they are able to live off the money they had earned.

The Cons of Being an Acupuncturist

It takes some time get your license and start working. In fact, you must make sure that once you graduate, you join an acupuncture school to get your license and complete your training. This takes anywhere from 4-6 years including college. So, it does take time to be completely certified to start needling. You will also have to pay anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 for school, so it can truly be difficult to pay for such expenses if you do not have money to begin with. Financial aids and grants are available, but that barely ever happens and is ever given to a student. Once you are fully licensed, working can be tough, as it can be hard to work from morning till night making sure that you take care of all your patients. So it’s a pretty tough job once you graduate.

Being an acupuncturist is a pretty tough job, and the downsides prove it to be something others should not pursue. However, the pros definitely outweigh the cons immensely and if you really want to make this your career, do not make the slight downsides stop you from continuing and deciding not to go through with the acupuncture training. It may become tiring, but you will get the chance to retire early and come home relaxed, as your whole day is filled with talking to people who are basically brought to relaxation during the acupuncture. So, keep learning about this career, but remember to not let the downsides dictate your entire decision.