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Acupuncture is a traditional healing method developed in China. Using thin needles, usually about 3-8 centimeters long, acupuncturists pierce the skin in an effort to stimulate certain points on the body and encourage the flow of Chi, a person's vital energy. Theoretically, once the Chi is flowing freely, a person's health will be restored, and pain will be alleviated. While nothing is injected into the patient, some acupuncturists run a weak electrical current through the needles to start the Chi's flow.

Before acupuncturists can get to the needles, however, they have to first diagnose the patient's ailment, and decide whether it is caused by disease, physiological troubles, or injury, using traditional Chinese medical theories.

An acupuncturist might look at the patient's tongue, checking for a coating and looking at the shape and color. The complexion, breathing, body odor and any indigestion can tell the acupuncturist what might be wrong. The acupuncturist might take the patient's pulse from different places on their body. Depending on what the acupuncturist learns, tests, analyses, and x-rays might be arranged through a physician.

Once an acupuncturist has decided what is wrong with the patient and their Chi, the appropriate points are inserted with needles. The needles are left there for certain lengths of time, depending on the diagnosis and the chosen treatment. Acupuncturists can also recommend diet, exercises, and herbal remedies.
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Brightwood College

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  Interests and Skills  
Acupuncturists, like other health care workers, should be ethical, responsible, and compassionate toward their patients. They must have good communication skills, allowing them to interact with patients and gain their trust and confidence, as well as interact with other members of the health care field. They should be precise, with steady hands and excellent hand-eye coordination.

A successful acupuncturist will be thorough and organized, especially one in private practice. They should have a good understanding of Chinese tradition and culture; any experience living in or studying an Eastern culture and philosophy is beneficial. They must also understand Western medicine, and be eager to fuse the two traditions, in order to find the perfect remedy.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Make accurate diagnosis using traditional Chinese methods
  • Lift disabled patients to treatment table
  • Be able to explain both traditional Chinese philosophy, theory and practice, and Western ideas about the human body
  • Contact other health care practitioners and arrange for additional tests and x-rays
  • A career in acupuncture offers a fusion between Western and Eastern medical theories, philosophies, and practices. Anyone who is interested in science will find opportunities to explore anatomy, health and healing, while learning a lot about different cultures and ways of viewing the human body. A typical day will find the acupuncturist meeting with many kinds of people, with many different ailments, as well as conferring with other members of the health care field.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Acupuncturists work in or run clinics, or offices, which they may or may not share with other health care practitioners who have other types of training in Chinese medicine. Because they work very much like regular physicians, they will most likely have a regular work week. Due to the fact that acupuncture therapists rarely deal with emergencies, an acupuncturist will be able to plan holidays and time off. Weekend and evening work is not required, unless an acupuncturist chooses to be available at that time.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Because so many of these practitioners own their own practices, career growth can depend on them. A driven acupuncturist may recruit many new patients, hire staff, and develop their financial and administration skills.

An acupuncturist may choose to take more classes, in an effort to become more well rounded, by leaning other apects of Chinese and non-Western medicine. There are herbal treatments and remedies to explore, many kinds of massage, and acupressure. A driven practitioner of acupuncture has the ability to build up a large clientele, provided they have the interest level and desire. As well, there is the possibility of teaching, publishing articles, and writing books on the subject.

  Educational Paths  
A student of acupuncture should have an undergraduate degree in science, or any training in the health care field before being accepted to an acupuncture program. This training, and the subsequent certification, depends on where in the United States the prospective practitioner wants to live and work.



Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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