Acupuncture utilizes tiny needles placed carefully at specific pressure points on the patient's body to relieve a variety of physical and physiological issues from pain, to stress, to migraines, and some illnesses.
Learn more about the growing practice of acupuncture, and how to become an acupuncturist in this career overview, which includes information from a placement specialist and career expert in integrated healthcare, Lisa McDonald of Integrated Connections.
Why is there an increasing demand for acupuncturists currently?"Acupuncture has been used for centuries to treat a wide variety of conditions including chronic pain, digestive complaints, emotional disorders, fatigue, addictions, gynecological disorders, weight loss, stress and to promote overall well-being. It has also proven effective in controlling chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting," states Lisa McDonald.
She adds: "Public demand and recent changes in healthcare legislation will increase the number of acupuncture patient visits leading to increased employment opportunities for licensed acupuncturists nationwide."
McDonald states that an increasing number of insurance companies are beginning to offer coverage for acupuncture recently, due to patient demand, and evidence demonstrating the benefits and cost-effectiveness of acupuncture.
Additionally, the military, government, and private corporations are all beginning to recognize the overall effectiveness of acupuncture, says McDonald, and therefore, laws and regulations are being changed in favor of increasing utilization and coverage of acupuncture for military personnel, company employees, and the general public. "I am confident the profession will continue its growth over the next several years with an increasing number of job openings," McDonald predicts.
How does someone become qualified to become an acupuncturist?Lisa McDonald provides the following advice for people interested in pursuing a career in acupuncture: "Future acupuncturists must graduate from an accredited school of acupuncture with a Masters Degree in Acupuncture or Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Nearly all the states that license acupuncturists require graduation from a program that is accredited, each state has different licensing requirements. In some States, a bachelors degree is required as well as a masters in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in order to practice."
To check individual state requirements, an accredited school listing can be found at the website of the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM). Programs vary at each school but generally training programs range from 3-4 years, including internship, McDonald explains.
Once graduated, acupuncturists can go into private practice or find opportunities in integrative medicine clinics, cancer centers or in large systems like Kaiser Permanente and the VA.