So you want to be an Acupuncturist.
What does a career in acupuncture involve?
o Acupuncturists use an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine to help relieve their clients' symptoms.
The method involves inserting very fine stainless steel needles into key pressure points on the patients' body, with the aim of regulating the healing process and restoring health and energy.
Acupuncturists take a detailed history from the client including details about symptoms, lifestyle and emotional responses to situations.
They then decide on a diagnosis to treat the condition, select the points to be treated and insert the needles according to the level of stimulation required.
The method is used to anaesthetise, relieve pain and treat a wide variety of illnesses that include arthritis, back pain, circulatory problems and high blood pressure, migraines, depression, smoking and drug addiction.
Electro-acupuncture is a more recent introduction, using electrical energy to treat the correct parts of the body.
What personal skills do you need?
o You need to be able to empathise with your patients' circumstances and have good communication and listening skills and a genuine desire to help people.
You must be able to detach yourself emotionally and maintain a professional relationship with your clients at all times.
You should also be flexible, organised and capable of managing your time, sticking to an appointment schedule.
You might travel to clients' home, so having a driving licence is an advantage.
What training do you need?
o To train as an acupuncturist, you need at least five GCSEs (A-C) and two A levels, including one science, although course entry needs vary.
Previous experience or qualifications in medically-related areas are also useful but not essential.
Courses include bio-medical training as well as clinical acupuncture and practical work experience.
Training is monitored by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board, an independent organisation allied to the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).
The BAcC also accepts people onto its register who have completed a thorough training programme (three years full-time work, or the part-time equivalent) in acupuncture, diagnosis and treatment.
Successful graduates carry the letters MBAcC after their name.
What are the opportunities for career progression?
o There has been a dramatic rise in acupuncture practitioners as it becomes increasingly popular in the UK.
Most acupuncturists are self-employed and work from home or their own premises, although some work in multi-disciplinary complementary medical centres or alongside the NHS, either in a hospital or surgery setting.
What is the salary?
o Most acupuncturists are self-employed so incomes can vary considerably from pounds 18,000 up to pounds 35,000 a year.
More information: British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) www.acupuncture.org.uk; British Medical Acupuncture Society (BMAS) www.med; Institute for Complementary Medicine www.i-c-m.org.uk