If you are wondering how to become an acupuncturist, below are tips and advice on training for and beginning careers in this area of alternative therapy, as well as job prospects in the UK.

    The Job Description
    Acupuncture is a traditional and ancient Chinese medical practice, helping clients to relieve a range of symptoms. Extremely fine needles of stainless steel are inserted into pressure points on key areas of the body, an the goal is to regulate healing processes and restore energy and health.

    Typical responsibilities:

    – Taking a detailed lifestyle and medical history of the client that includes details on symptoms, general client routines and their typical emotional response to certain situations
    – Deciding on diagnoses
    – Selecting body points for treatments
    – Inserting needles in line with the required level of stimulation

    The aim to anaesthetise and treat various illnesses. Electro-acupuncture is relatively new and uses electricity to treat the necessary body parts.

    An acupuncturists will work with various conditions such as back pain, arthritis, high blood pressure, circulatory problems, depression, migraines and drug addictions, including smoking.

    Person Specification
    The key personal attributes of acupuncturists include:

    – Empathy with patient circumstances
    – Good listening and communication skills
    – A logical approach with strong problem solving abilities
    – A desire to help others
    – Self-awareness and a calm demeanor
    – Being capable of emotional detachment and being professional at all times.

    How to become an acupuncturist
    To train in acpupuncture you will usually require five or more GCSEs at grade A to C (or equivalent). Some course will also demand two or more A levels, often with one or more in a science subject. Access to Higher Education qualifications may be acceptable for entry on some courses.

    It is common to enter acupuncture late in one’s career – partly because it is a field that has grown in popularity dramatically over the last 20 years, but also because many are looking for a career change. Those will medical experience or qualifications are likely to receive acceptance without the normal entry qualifications.

    If you are already a qualified healthcare professional you may be exempt from certain aspects of the training or examinations. Contact the British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) for further information, including details of their training courses.

    Training and Development
    Training is governed by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, which is independent organisation partnered with BAcC – British Acupuncture Council.

    The BAcC keeps information on universities and colleges offering courses leading to professional membership. These courses include training in bio-medicine and clinical acupuncture, as well as practice based work experience.

    BAcC allow people to register if they have finished thorough training in traditional acupuncture, including treatment and diagnosis. This must include study of three years or more full-time, or the equivalent in part-time study. BAcC will not recognise a short course. A successful graduate can add MBAcC after his or her name.

    The Pay (a rough guide)
    The salary of an acupuncturist could range from around £18,000 up to £35,000 or more per annum.

    Job Prospects
    In the UK, the field of Acupuncture is increasingly popular in the UK and more people are recognising its benefits for health and managing injuries or illnesses. Since the early 1990s there has been a huge increase practitioner numbers, so over 2000 acupuncturists are now BAcC registered. Demand exceeds supply though within many areas.

    Most acupuncturists work on a self-employed basis from home while a few at medical centres that specialise in complimentary medicine. Some acupuncturists work alongside the NHS in a doctors’ surgery or hospital setting, or via GP referrals.

    Useful therapies resources:
    BMAS – British Medical Acupucture Society
    BMAS House
    3 Winnington Court
    CW8 1AQ
    Tel: 01606 786 782

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