Acupuncture is a therapeutic treatment based on traditional Chinese medicine which uses herbal remedies and the use of pressure points to treat ailments.
Based on the belief that every part of the body is interconnected, acupuncture works to relieve aches, pains, and other physical symptoms by inserting needles into certain pressure points of the body.
Modern medicine explains the effectiveness of this oriental tradition with the assertion that the needles stimulate the nervous system, thereby releasing certain chemicals, such as endorphins, into the body which can alleviate physical pain.
Job Description: A Day in the Life of an Acupuncturist
Acupuncturists work out of private practices, so a 40-hour work week is standard. Most acupuncturists start by having patients fill out a form detailing their ailments, and including medical history. After talking to the patients and discerning the issue to be treated, acupuncturists can decide on a specific means of treatment.
A single treatment usually require anywhere from four to twenty needles. They vary in size and may be as thin as a hair or as wide as a small sewing needle. A typical session lasts about twenty minutes, during which time the needles are inserted in the patient, who must lie still while the treatment takes effect. After approximately twenty minutes, the needles are removed. Some patients are more sensitive to the needle pricks than others, but in most cases patients feel more warmth and itchiness around the needle pricks than pain.
General Requirements and Training
To become a licensed acupuncturist, individuals must graduate from an accredited school of acupuncture.
Most programs take three or four years to complete, including clinical internships. Students are trained in fields traditionally taught in western medical schools, such as anatomy and nutrition, as well as in areas such as herbology and needle technique.
In order to become licensed to practice, most states require graduates of these programs must pass an exam administered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Salary, Benefits, and Opportunities for Advancement
In recent years, acupuncture and other forms of traditional Chinese medicine have gained popularity in the United States, opening up the job market for those individuals wishing to practice acupuncture. Neither the Bureau of Labor Statistics nor Salary.com collects earnings data for acupuncturists. Payscale.com reports than an acupuncturist with one to four years of experience earns an average of $29,479 to $57,937, while an acupuncturist with twenty or more years of experience earns an average of $38,000 to $96,000.