Acupuncture as a career can be a professional health practice you can enjoy for a lifetime. Besides getting licensed you can also be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Practitioners with this certification can use the title Diplomate of Acupuncture. The professional abbreviation is Dipl.Ac. Acupuncturists learn just how to diagnose the various ailments of a patient and how to treat them using very thin stainless-steel needles inserted into specific points on the surface of the skin. The insertion of the acupuncture needles triggers certain biochemical and physiological reactions in the body and that is what promotes healing.
Acupuncture schools that offer courses in traditional Chinese medicine often include other aspects of traditional medicine, like anatomy, body therapy, massage therapy, and various sciences. You will want to find an acupuncture school that offers small classes. And you want to opt for a school whose program emphasizes courses in traditional Chinese medicine; acupuncture is just one part of traditional Chinese medicine.
First of all you will want to find out what the school and program options are in your home area. Acupuncture schools will offer the science and the philosophy of acupuncture too. It's important to get a complete picture of all the treatments offered by the acupuncture school you're considering, to acquire the skills needed to be well-rounded and well-versed for your patients.
Find out if your state is on the national list that has about 50 acupuncture schools with accredited programs. The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) is the national accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit master's-level programs in the acupuncture and Oriental medicine profession, so make sure the school you're considering has this accreditation. For naturopathic schools that offer acupuncture programs see the List of Accredited Natural Medicine Colleges in North America.
Know that each state and each discipline has its own strict rules about how alternative medicine practitioners can be professionally licensed. Before you commit to any acupuncture school or to any acupuncture training take a look at the "Fundamentals of Chinese Acupuncture" by Andrew Ellis, Nigel Wiseman, and Ken Bosson, (484pp., illustrated, Harcourt, 1991 paperback.) This text book is used in many acupuncture schools and acupuncture programs and will give you an idea if you want to pursue acupuncture as a career. Talk to the financial aid counselors at the acupuncture school or college you're thinking about and see if they have any suggestions for scholarships, grants, loans or other financial aid.
Among other things, acupuncture is also used for arthritis, headaches, migraine headaches, quitting smoking, weight loss, fertility, fibromyalgia, depression, insomnia, face lifts as in facial acupuncture, back pain, high blood pressure, pregnancy, cosmetic purposes, anxiety, Crohn's disease and asthma. It's also used with dogs and other animals as in veterinary acupuncture.
Acupuncture programs in acupuncture schools are expensive and usually require three years or so of course work; some programs can take up to five years to complete. Another good textbook to review in advance of your decision is: "The Foundations of Chinese Medicine", a comprehensive text for acupuncturists and herbalists, (Maciocia, 528pp., 96 illustrated, Harcourt, 1989.)
Economic burden may be lessened somewhat with financial aid from federal student loans. If you decide to visit an acupuncture practitioner to learn more before you commit to acupuncture as a career, make sure to choose a practitioner who is licensed by a recognized national acupuncture organization. And in order to qualify for federal assistance be sure to enroll in a school that's accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM).
Our advanced medicine has proven the effectiveness of many natural treatments that have been practiced in other countries for many centuries. Because of this, more and more insurance companies are covering alternative treatments like acupuncture. Keep your allopathic doctor or your naturopathic doctor informed about alternative medical techniques or procedures you decide to undertake. And once you're licensed or practicing acupuncture as a student in training, never attempt to use acupuncture to treat potentially life-threatening symptoms like shortness of breath or chest pain. Always refer these patients to the appropriate doctor.