The traditional Chinese practice of acupuncture is gaining ground in America and is becoming one of the fastest growing fields in alternative medicine. In the past two decades more and more doctors have been legitimizing the practice of acupuncture as real medicine. A number of schools now have the accreditation to award degrees in this field and prepare students for the professional world.
The standard certificate programs have students stepping out into the work force after a typical three to four year course load. Through the study of acupuncture students will be taught how to correctly insert the needles, how to diagnose and assess a patient’s condition, learn massage techniques, and how to identify acupuncture points and the organs connected to them. Coursework will consist of treatment principles, anatomy, physiology, meridians and points, Chinese herbology, ethics, practice management, and more.
Through classes students will learn how to practice medicine successfully using the three departments based on a traditional Chinese hospital. Students will use Chinese thinking to diagnose and apply the skills of acupuncture, herbs, and Asian bodywork to treat patients. Schooling will also provide comprehensive practice in Western clinical skills that will support the Chinese aspects of the therapy. These skills include homeopathy, mind and body medicine, and cranio-sacral therapy.
Prior to admission into an acupuncture masters program, students must have documented proof that they have successfully completed at least 60 semester credits (90 quarter hours) at the baccalaureate-level. Tuition for the program will vary depending on what school is attended. The average price to obtain a master’s in acupuncture ranges from $38,000 to $45,000 upon completion from the program. These prices include the cost for registration, books, and insurance for malpractice. Upon completion of the course load students are required to pass the certification exam. The NCCAOM exam once successfully completed allows students to enter the work force. Many schools are seeing a high percentage of graduates staying in practice.
Acupuncture technician students will learn how to relieve pain for patients by using thin needles and inserting them into specific areas of the body where nerves, muscles, and connective tissue can be stimulated. The stimulation increases blood flow and releases opioids and serotonin that alleviate pain because those chemicals are the body’s natural painkillers.
Along with the medical aspects of schooling students will learn about the practice based on its origins rooted in Chinese philosophy and beliefs. The origins of acupuncture will show students that Chinese medicine explains that health is the product of a harmonious balance of the complementary parts of yin and yang. This balance will be explored through the hundreds of acupuncture points in the body as they relate to the Chinese belief that life force flows through pathways called meridians. These pathways are how the life force and energy flow can be accessed.
Acupuncturists typically work out an office relating to health care or one that solely relates to acupuncture. Once a practice is established a solo practitioner usually earns more than a salaried worker. An average hourly wage for an acupuncturist is $15.48. With the continual increase in legitimacy of the practice, more schools opening that are dedicated to the therapy, and more individuals who are seeking alternative, less invasive forms of health care the practice will continue to grow. This growth will provide a steady increase in job opportunities for individuals who successfully complete the course work.