Tuesday, February 19, 2013

3 Questions to Ask your Acupuncturist Before You Get Acupuncture

Three Important Questions to Ask When Seeking Acupuncture


The state of health care in this country has lead to more people turning to more natural ways of taking care of their health.  They are seeking to improve their health, overcome a health challenge, and/or prevent catastrophic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.  One of the modalities that people are seeking to use is Acupuncture. 

One in ten Americans currently receive acupuncture for pain, digestive disorders, fertility and other health challenges.  The World Health Organization (WHO) and National Institute of Health (NIH) have recognized over 40 specific conditions that can be treated effectively with acupuncture.  A few of these conditions are addiction, anxiety, carpal tunnel syndrome, trigeminal neuralgia, and digestive issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Chron’s Disease.

If you are someone that is new to this ancient medical healing modality then you may not be sure of how to go about finding a qualified acupuncturist in your area.  There are three very important questions to ask of the person that you are thinking about using for your health care services.   

  1. What Is Your Training

In order to become an acupuncturist you must complete a graduate degree at an accredited college.  The Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (CCAOM) is the national organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education to accredit Acupuncture and Oriental Medical Schools and programs in the United States.   There are over 50 colleges in the United States.  To learn more about the CCAOM or to check on a college please go to ccaom.org.   

Most programs are a minimum of four years and consist of studies in both western and eastern medicine.   When an acupuncturist graduates from one of these colleges they are awarded either a Masters Degree in Acupuncture or a Masters Degree in Oriental Medicine.  The degree is based on whether they studied only acupuncture or if oriental medicine was also included.

  1. Are You Licensed by the State to Perform Acupuncture

In order to perform acupuncture over 98% of states require that an acupuncturist be certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).   NCCAOM is the only national organization that validates entry-level competency in the practice of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AOM).  NCCAOM administers a board exam in which a candidate must receive a passing score in order to be certified.  In addition a candidate must continue a minimum of 60 hours of continuing education every 4 years in order to maintain their certification.   To locate an acupuncturist in your area and for more information please visit nccaom.org.

In addition some states such as California and New Jersey require that you also pass their own state board exam in order to be certified. 

Upon completion of NCCAOM and/or State certification an applicant must then apply for and be issued a license by the State for which they will be practicing.  This is usually the State Board of Health. 

  1. What is your title?

This is perhaps the most important question you will need to ask.  Depending on the state the title may vary.  Common titles used are Licensed Acupuncturist, Certified Acupuncturist, Acupuncture Physician, or Doctor of Oriental Medicine.  If the practitioner you are seeking services with holds any other title then he or she may or may not be NCCAOM certified.  In addition they may not be licensed by the state as an acupuncturist. 

You might ask yourself, why is this important.  In many states physicians, chiropractors, radiologists, and other health care practitioners may perform acupuncture within the scope of their license.  However, many of them have not had any more training than a weekend course in order to learn the diagnostic skills and techniques required to perform acupuncture effectively. They also have not completed any board examination to ensure they are competent in any skills or techniques they might have learned in their weekend course.  

Deborah Farley is a licensed acupuncturist and owner of the Acupuncture Clinic of Richmond, in Richmond, Virginia. She's a leading authority on using nutrition and Chinese medicine for treating symptoms and root causes of illness.  For additional resources to improve your health and wellness, visit www.debifarley.com or call 804.288.3927.