Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine in which a professional inserts tiny needles into certain spots on a person's body to provide relief from pain. The practice is part of traditional Chinese medicine theory that dates back to around 1000 BCE. Today, there are thousands of practicing acupuncturists who practice all around the world. There are many different types of acupuncturist jobs available due to the large number of specialties within the field. Professionals might specialize in traditional acupuncture, electro-acupuncture, or the broader field of holistic medicine.
Many traditional acupuncturist jobs entail manually inserting needles into very specific points, called meridians, on the body. According to traditional theory, there are as many as 2,000 meridians through which a vital energy flows. Acupuncturists believe that manipulating needles in certain meridians can alleviate a vast array of ailments, from headaches to muscle soreness to depression. An acupuncturist usually asks a person to describe his or her symptoms, then inserts needles into the corresponding meridians. A typical session may last anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours.
Acupuncturist jobs in some clinics and private practices involve using electrical stimulation at different meridians. Experts usually begin by applying needles in the manner prescribed by traditional acupuncture theory. Once a needle is in place, an acupuncturist will connect it to a small electrode, providing constant electrical stimulation. In electro-acupuncture, needles vibrate on their own, relieving the acupuncturist from the burden of having to continuously adjust them by hand.
Some acupuncturists supplement patients' treatments with other forms of holistic therapy and conventional Western medicines. Acupuncturist jobs in holistic treatment facilities often require professionals to implement different types of herbal remedies, aromatherapy, massages, heat treatments, and light therapy. Occasionally, an acupuncturist will communicate with a patient's physician to create an appropriate complimentary treatment to prescribed pharmaceuticals and medical procedures.
To obtain acupuncturist jobs in any specialty, people must typically receive practitioner degrees from accredited acupuncture schools and obtain licensing. Acupuncture school programs, which typically take three to five years to complete, provide students with classroom and hands-on training of the different tools and techniques they will use in their future acupuncturist jobs. Upon completion of a program, a graduate can take a licensing exam administered by his or her state or country. Licensing tests evaluate a person's understanding of safety, ethics, and clinical procedures. Some new practitioners choose to obtain additional certification from independent, credible institutions to improve their credentials and improve their chances of finding employment.