How to Become an Acupuncturist
When most people consider a career in health care, they immediately think of becoming a doctor or nurse. The tides of conventional medicine are changing as there is a greater demand for holistic medicine. Acupuncture is the newest “oldest profession” to emerge to meet this demand.
So, if you want to join the coolest profession on earth, here are 7 Tips to Become an Acupuncturist:
Tip #1: Receive Acupuncture Treatments. Seeing might be believing, but when it comes to acupuncture, experiencing is knowing. You do not have to be sick to benefit from acupuncture. Many people receive regular treatments to maintain overall health and as preventive medicine. Others use acupuncture for pain, insomnia, stress, allergies, headaches, and a variety of other conditions. Tell your acupuncturist you are interested in becoming an Acupuncturist and he or she can provide a treatment and information to help you make your decision. Plus then you can brag to your friends that you got Acupuncture!
Tip #2: Talk to Acupuncture Students, Graduates, and Professional Acupuncturists. All of these people will give you a different perspective on the process of becoming an acupuncturist. Students will inform you about the academic, clinical, and financial work load. Graduates will tell you about the challenges of starting your own practice. Professional Acupuncturists will share their humble and joyful experiences with helping patients achieve health and wellness, even when all western medical treatments had been tried first. Helping someone get well is the greatest feeling in the world!
Tip #3: Graduate from an undergraduate college. You do not necessarily have to major in biology or any of the hardcore sciences. Many acupuncture students were psychology, English, computer science, or sociology majors. Although an undergraduate degree is not absolutely required to attend many Acupuncture Colleges, it is still highly recommended. Get a copy of your undergraduate transcript so you know exactly how many credits you have in each class you completed.
Tip #4: Know where you want to practice. As unbelievable as it sounds, Acupuncture is not legal in every state. Currently there are about 8 states that either have pending legislation or none at all. Every state has different licensing requirements. If you are flexible then this is not really an issue, but if you have your heart set on living in Delaware (for instance), where acupuncturists do not have any legal protection, other than to practice with a “supervising” MD, then you may want to rethink your strategy.
Tip #5: Attend an Accredited Acupuncture College. There are approximately 50 Accredited Acupuncture Colleges in the US offering certification in Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (AOM), also known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). AOM and TCM include the practice of Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Asian Bodywork, but colleges will differ on their emphasis and course requirements. Most Acupuncture Colleges are 3 or 4 years in length and offer a Masters Degree in Acupuncture and/or Oriental Medicine.
Tip #6: Get Board Certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM). After you graduate from an accredited Acupuncture College you can take a test through the NCCAOM to get Board Certified. This test is recognized as the certification requirement for most states that have legal practice guidelines for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. The exception is the state of California, which has it’s own state Board Certification exam and requirements to practice. If you are thinking of establishing your acupuncture practice in California, be sure to look up their specific requirements, including which Acupuncture Schools offer acceptable degrees.
Tip #7: Study Acupuncture Practice Management, Marketing, and Business Success Principles. As an Acupuncturist you have the opportunity to be a Business Owner, Solo-Practitioner, and Entrepreneur. In other words, you get to be your own boss! Where many Acupuncturists fail, however, is in rejecting the business opportunities and focusing entirely on the healing principles and techniques. These are important, but if you do not have a successful acupuncture practice you can not provide Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to people who need and want it.