WORKING AS AN ACUPUNCTURIST
OCC info Alberta Occupational Profile:
“Acupuncture, a healing art practiced in China for over two thousand years, has received attention and acceptance in Western cultures relatively recently. It is based on the premise that illness occurs when the flow of vital energy, qi, is obstructed or out of balance. Stimulating certain points on the body can help correct this obstruction or imbalance and, consequently, relieve pain and restore health.
Acupuncturists use unique techniques and diagnostic methods to determine patterns of imbalance or disharmony. In a typical assessment session, an acupuncturist assesses a patient’s vitality and general physical, mental and emotional condition by:
• examining the patient’s tongue and general appearance
• listening to the patient’s voice, breathing and abdominal sounds
• noting body odors
• checking pulses at several points on each wrist and other specific points
• asking questions about body functions such as digestion, sleep patterns and eating habits
Through patients’ physicians, acupuncturists also may arrange for additional tests, analyses and x-rays to assist in diagnosing problems. Once they have made a diagnosis, acupuncturists determine what body points should be stimulated, how and for how long. Acupuncturists may also recommend herbal supplements, exercises or dietary changes.
Most acupuncturists work in private practice, alone or in partnership with other health care professionals such as family physicians or chiropractors. Advancement in this occupation generally takes the form of building a larger, more prosperous practice.
Salary: incomes in this occupation vary considerably, ranging up to and over $120,000 a year. (2005 estimate)” www.alis.gov.ab.ca.occinfo/
What are the typical starting salaries?
“Most acupuncturists do not receive salaries, but work to develop a private practice. The financial rewards of these practices vary widely with experience, entrepreneurial ability, location and a host of other factors. A well established practice will ultimately yield a comfortable living for a family, ranging from $30,000 per year up. The most successful acupuncturists may make up to ten times that amount. More and more acupuncturists are joining integrated medical establishments such as hospitals, larger clinics etc. These practitioners often receive salaries and are typically compensated similarly to the higher end technical people or at the lower end of the scale for physicians.”
How do you see the trend in acupuncture in the next 10 years?
“It is becoming increasingly clear that the American healthcare delivery system is in transition. As traditional Western medicine becomes more expensive and health insurance falls out of the means of more and more people, there has begun a movement to find more cost efficient alternatives. Acupuncture provides very effective treatment for many conditions at a fraction of the cost. It is also part of that complex of patient-centered approaches that focuses on wellness, rather than rescue from illness. Most policy analysts expect all forms of complementary and alternative medicine, especially acupuncture and Oriental medicine, to gain dramatically in popularity over the next few years. The medicine is safe, effective, less expensive and less intrusive than modern scientific remedies relying on drugs or surgery. Prospects for acupuncturists have never been brighter.”
Questions to and replies from a representative of the AOM Alliance. In February 2007 the AAOM and the AOM Alliance merged to form the AAAOM: www.aaaomonline.org
“Acupuncturists work at times when their patients can see them. This means that working hours are flexible and can include evening and weekend work. They work in a variety of settings including their own or patients’ homes, health clinics, hospices, cancer treatment units or addiction treatment centres. Salaries may range from around £12,500 to £40,000 a year.
An acupuncturist should: have good listening skills and be able to ask the right questions, have empathy and sensitivity towards patients, inspire confidence in their patients and be interested in human biology and healthcare.”