Alternative Medicine: Explore A Career As An Acupuncturist – Part One

June 5, 2014

Article by Global Pre-Meds
Hospital doctor shadowing & global health experience programs.

See current opportunities

Explore A Career As An Acupuncturist – Job Description & Job Opportunities

Acupuncturists use an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine to help alleviate and cure patients’ symptoms. This treatment is based on the belief that an individual’s health is determined by a balanced flow of chi, which is the vital life energy present in all living organisms. There are 12 major energy pathways through which chi, also known as qi, circulates in the body. Each of these meridians is linked to a particular internal organ or organ system. When special, very fine needles are inserted just below the skin into key pressure points called acupoints, they stimulate the body’s healing mechanisms, correcting and rebalancing the flow of energy and, consequently, relieving pain and restoring health and energy.

The job requires good coordination and a steady hand. To become an acupuncturist, you will need to complete an in-depth, three-year course in acupuncture. After you graduate, it is advisable to register with a professional body to gain credibility and help your career.

Job Description

Most acupuncturists work from home or from an alternative therapy clinic, with just a few working in a hospital.

As an acupuncturist, some of your job functions would include:

– Taking your patients’ detailed history

– Diagnosing the symptoms

– Discussing all issues surrounding their symptoms, such as diet, lifestyle and emotional factors

– Determining what action to take

– Selecting specific points on the body to be treated depending upon the symptoms

– Inserting needles according to the level of stimulation that is required

A student taking a patient's blood pressure in Tanzania. In addition to inserting needles, depending on the treatment required, acupuncturists also use methods such as cupping, which involves using a vacuum cup on acupuncture points or moxibustion, which involves burning dried herbs above an acupuncture point. Your clients could include those with conditions ranging from the common cold to migraine, depression and addiction.

The World Health Organization (WHO) cites more than 40 different health conditions that can be treated with acupuncture including sinusitis, circulatory problems, osteoarthritis, migraines, high blood pressure, asthma, tonsillitis, the common cold, sciatica, gastrointestinal disorders and certain addictions. Acupuncture is also often used either alone or in conjunction with other medical treatments to treat back pain, headaches, fibromyalgia, respiratory disease, menstrual cramps, depression, hormonal imbalances, immune dysfunction and sleep disorders.

Transferable Skills Required

In addition to having a keen interest in complementary therapies, if you are considering a career in acupuncture therapy, you need to have certain transferable skills:

– Good listening skills

– Good communication

– Sensitivity and understanding

– A logical approach to solving problems

– A steady hand and excellent coordination

– Awareness of when a client should be referred to another medical practitioner

Work Opportunities as an Acupuncturist

You will find most opportunities as a self-employed acupuncturist, working either from home or a private clinic or within a complementary or holistic therapy centre.

Work opportunities also exist in the NHS, where acupuncturists work with physiotherapists and specialist nurses to provide pain management services. Most acupuncturists in the UK are self-employed with their own practice and also provide services to the NHS on a need basis.

With experience you could also become involved in research or move into teaching.