While many people would like to have the benefits of acupuncture in their lives, they may find it difficult to choose a licensed acupuncturist. An entire acupuncture experience can be dependent upon the acupuncture practitioner, so knowing what to look for in an acupuncturist can help people make an informed choice, leading to a positive wellness relationship. A clean office, friendly staff, and a good rapport with the practitioner are factors worth starting with in one's search.
Licensing is not mandatory in every location, so the first step is making sure that the practitioner is indeed a licensed acupuncturist. Ask to see credentials. A Master's Degree in Oriental Medicine is generally a good credential to have. In order to be fully licensed, he or she should have this degree from an accredited acupuncture school, as well as a passing score from a written and practical state board exam. After passing the exam, he or she may have Diplomate of Acupuncture (Dipl. Ac.) as a title following his or her name.
If he or she is certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Acupuncturists, he or she will have passed the exam, but may or may not have a license. Instead of a license, he or she may simply have had an apprenticeship for a minimum of four years. This can be comparable to having a license; it is up to the patient to decide whether or not this is satisfactory experience prior to consenting to services.
A membership in the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture may also be indicative of a good practitioner. To be a member, one must have had a minimum of 200 hours of training. Years of experience may also prove helpful; ask the acupuncturist how long he or she has been in practice.
Asking about styles used is a personal prerogative as different people will prefer different styles. For example, people wishing for fewer needles used at shallow skin depths may opt for a Japanese style, while patients hoping for acupuncture to be primarily performed on their hands may prefer a Korean method. Ask any potential licensed acupuncturist about which style or styles he or she uses.
Personal budget should also be taken into account when choosing a licensed acupuncturist. Acupuncturists normally charge by the hour, and their fees can vary widely. While more experienced practitioners will generally cost more, higher price does not always equate to a better experience. Relying on personal recommendations from people you know, may be a more reliable indicator, especially for those on a tight budget.