Are you thinking about training to become an acupuncturist?
Acupuncture is a branch of alternative medicine that involves treating both physical and psychological problems. Acupuncturists work closely with patients to treat the whole body rather than just the area that is injured.
You need to be familiar with a wide range of Chinese medicinal practices to do this job. The main practice is inserting special needles in particular points of the body to release the flow of chi energy.
To find out if this could be the perfect job for you, check out my in-depth…
- Acupuncturist Job Description
- Main Duties And Responsibilities
- Essential Skills and Attributes
- Tools of the Trade
- The Working Environment
- Education And Training
- Why Not Broaden Your Horizons Into Physical Therapy?
- Final Thoughts
Acupuncturist Job Description
A typical job description for this role will start with an overview of the working environment. This could be anything from a private clinic to a hospital or a care home. It will include an overview of the typical patients, the working hours, and the base salary.
The description should provide an overview of the daily duties you would be expected to perform. It will also explain the education, licenses, and experience that candidates need to have. There are also likely to be details of the skills and attributes the employer is looking for in the ideal candidate.
Main Duties And Responsibilities
The exact duties of this role will depend on where you work and who your clients are. However, there are certain duties you are likely to perform regularly. Here are the main duties and responsibilities you are likely to do.
Consulting with patients
When you meet patients for the first time, you need to work out their needs. There are likely to be both physical and psychological issues you need to help them with. Some may be obvious such as an injury, while trouble sleeping and anxiety may be less obvious at first.
Making a diagnoses
You need to be able to diagnose exactly what the patient is suffering from. In some cases, the injury the patient thinks they have may be different from the actual injury. You need to be able to analyze the situation accurately and explain your findings to the patient.
Creating treatment schedules
You will advise patients about the types of treatments and therapies you could perform on them. Most treatments need to be performed at least five to ten times before they are effective. You need to work out and agree on the treatment schedule with each patient.
The exact treatments you will perform will depend on the needs and preferences of each patient. You need to make sure that you abide by the relevant laws and regulations at all times. You also have to make sure that the treatment room is a safe and healthy environment.
You need to keep careful and detailed records of treatments provided, and the progress noticed. Consult with other medical practitioners to collate the medical histories of each patient. And pass on copies of medical records to other medical practitioners on request.
Essential Skills and Attributes
You need to have deep knowledge of certain practices to do this job. Have a range of soft skills to work well with patients. Here are some of the most important skills and attributes you need to have to successfully do this job.
Some patients may be dealing with chronic pain or have a needle phobia. You need to go slowly with these patients and be able to put them at ease. It may take a while for some patients to completely open up and trust you.
Great listening skills
You need to be able to listen to patients carefully to understand their pain and other issues. Ask them questions and listen carefully to the answers. You may need to gather a lot of information to determine the specific problem.
Attention to detail
It is important to know exactly what you are doing, especially when placing acupuncture needles. You need to be able to focus on the task at hand and make sure each treatment is perfectly performed.
Having business skills will be useful, especially if you want to run your own clinic. It is important to have a good understanding of budgeting, marketing, and other basic business aspects.
Tools of the Trade
While acupuncturists are mostly associated with the use of needles, they also use a wide range of other tools. It is important to understand how to use all of these tools in the most effective way possible. So here are some of the specialist tools you are likely to use regularly.
A moxa is a special cone-like stick that is created from mugwort leaves. When patients request this treatment, you burn moxa sticks and place them on acupuncture points.
Special short and thick cups are placed on certain areas of the back, arms, and legs. The rim of the cup is heated gently and used to create a vacuum on the skin. This is designed to draw out impurities, break up connective tissue, and move blood around the body.
This is a special type of scraping that is often done on the arms, legs, and soles of the feet. It applies friction to the skin to release heat and move the blood around the body.
This involves attaching electricity to acupuncture needles. This helps to move qi energy around the body and make the muscles contract.
Special one-way, electron-moving cables are applied to specific parts of the body. They are designed to help balance osmotic concentrations in the body’s tissues.
This is a special form of Chinese massage. It is designed to move chi around the body and alleviate muscle tension.
The Working Environment
You will usually work directly for an employer in some form of a treatment center. This could be a private clinic, a wellness center, an integrative medical center, or a holistic health center. You also have the option of being self-employed and visiting clients in their own homes.
The hours you work are likely to depend on the schedules of your clients. You need to be available to work when clients are available for treatment. In some cases, this may involve traveling to clients’ homes to perform treatments.
Education And Training
It is necessary to obtain a Master’s Degree or a Doctoral Degree to get a job as an acupuncturist. The type of Master’s Degree you choose will depend on what you want to specialize in.
Options include Master of Acupuncture with Chinese Herbology Specialty, Master of Acupuncture, Master of Oriental Medicine, and Doctor of Acupuncture. You need to make sure the program you choose is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
You need to be fully licensed to practice in most states, although the requirements vary from state to state. After gaining a Master’s Degree, it is a good idea to gain National Certification. This will allow you to accept certain types of insurance for payment and increase your credibility with patients.
While not always required, it is a good idea to obtain certification before you start practicing. This mainly involves passing an exam set by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. You also need to take and pass a Clean Needle Technique course.
Why Not Broaden Your Horizons Into Physical Therapy?
Let’s take a look at a few alternatives that might interest you, such as my Physical Therapy Technician Job Description, Massage Therapist Job Description, or perhaps my Occupational Therapist Job Description.
Next, we’ve researched and found an excellent selection of introductions and guides into Physical Therapy. Starting with an Introduction to Physical Therapy of course, as well as the Acute Care Handbook for Physical Therapists, or the Neurologic Interventions for Physical Therapy, we also found The American Physical Therapy Association Book of Body Maintenance and Repair very helpful, and Orthopaedic Physical Therapy, or finally Physical Rehabilitation all available online in 2023.
Furthermore, if you’d like to specialize in a certain practice is the Orthopaedic Manual Physical Therapy: From Art to Evidence, and The Ultimate Guide to Pediatric Physical Therapy Documentation: For Student Physical Therapists and PTs, or perhaps the Acute Care Physical Therapy: A Clinician’s Guide.
To help you ace those exams are the study guides available such as the NPTE Secrets Study Guide: NPTE Exam Review for the National Physical Therapy Examination and Physical Therapy Documentation: From Examination to Outcome.
Lastly, if you’re starting out as a physical therapist assistant, we recommend reading the Physical Therapy Assistant, as well as the Therapeutic Exercise for Physical Therapy Assistants: Techniques for Intervention (Point, Physical Therapy Clinical Handbook for PTAs, and finally the Dreeben-Irimia’s Introduction to Physical Therapy Practice for Physical Therapist Assistants also available online today.
While it can take time and patience to become fully qualified, this can be a richly rewarding career. You will have the satisfaction of helping people on a daily basis. It is also worth becoming qualified to gain access to a much higher salary.
The starting salary for this role is normally around $32,000 per year, while the average salary is around $50,000 per year. If you have gained the necessary specialist skills and experience, you could easily earn at least $65,000 per year.
But of course, if you have a head for business and want to work on your own terms, consider setting up your own clinic.
All the very best working as an Acupuncturist!