Though not part of the NHS, acupuncturists are highly popular healthcare professionals. The care and treatment an acupuncturist provides and its low cost have caught many eyes.
What is an acupuncturist?
An acupuncturist uses ancient therapy to maintain the health and management of conditions, diseases and injuries. An acupuncturist is a holistic health practitioner who focuses on the patient over their complaint to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
Acupuncturists mainly work to restore the balance of vital energy in the body, known as qi. For an acupuncturist, illness or pain signifies that the body is out of balance of vital energy. Once this has been established, they will use fine needles at various pressure points to restore the flow of qi, which triggers the body's natural healing process.
A degree is not required for this role, as acupuncturists need different qualifications, but are still accepted.
An acupuncturist will assess each patient and conduct a consultation to determine their history to devise a health and treatment plan. They will perform individual treatment sessions, typically lasting between 45 and 60 minutes.
The responsibilities of an acupuncturist will depend on where you are working and who you are working for. The general responsibilities for acupuncturist jobs are:
- Carry out client consultations.
- Conduct follow-up appointments with patients.
- Explain treatment to patients.
- Explore the usage of other treatments.
- Give treatment.
- Keep meticulous records.
- Liaise with doctors and nurses.
As you move into more senior roles, you may be asked to take on additional responsibilities. This could be anything from liaising with doctors and nurses or training up new acupuncturists.
An acupuncturist’s salary will depend on a variety of different factors. Where you work is a key factor, and if you are self-employed and run your own practice, the performance of the business. Typically, acupuncture salaries tend to be low in the first few years of running a practice but soon grow as you become more established.
How many clients you treat over the course of a day will have an impact on how much you earn. Most acupuncturists tend to see between one and five clients a day. How much you charge each individual session, patient or hour will impact your daily income.
Once you have become more established, you will start to see more patients, which increases the chance for a higher income. Most medical roles are subject to the NHS’ Agenda for Pay salary scale; however, acupuncture is not a widely-available treatment type through the NHS, and most acupuncturists are private, meaning the salary does not come under this scheme.
A degree is not required for this role, as acupuncturists need different qualifications, but are still accepted. In the UK, no universities offer a degree in acupuncture, only Lincoln College offer acupuncture courses. An undergraduate or postgraduate degree is welcome but is not as important as accredited acupuncture courses.
Most acupuncturists will study specialised acupuncture courses accredited by the British Acupuncture Accreditation Board (BAAB). Once you have completed your BAAB-approved course, you can join the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC).
Accredited courses are a minimum of 400 hours. These courses will cover a wide range of topics, including physiology and anatomy, but will also include less traditional topics, such as reflexology, fingertip medicine, meridians and Chinese medicine theory.
Training and development
As most acupuncturists are self-employed, you will be responsible for your own acupuncture training and development. Seeking out professional training courses is well recommended for this career. Registering with organisations such as the BAcC or the BAAB is an excellent way to take part in training courses or seminars they offer.
The route you can take in your career will be largely down to you and your choices.
Membership with the BAcC requires members to complete a continuing professional development (CPD). Most organisations will require you to complete a CPD to maintain membership. The BAcC will also offer CPD courses and support for those who need it.
It is also possible to look into potential training courses abroad. Most acupuncture courses in the UK are shorter than those available in other parts of the world, especially in Asia, where acupuncture originated.
There are several skills needed to be an effective acupuncturist. The skills needed to be an acupuncturist are:
- A decent understanding of finances.
- An ability to work on your own.
- Excellent communication skills.
- Excellent organisational skills.
- Good bedside manner.
- The ability to calm patients and put them at ease.
- The ability to work as part of a team.
These skills can be further honed through training and development.
The route you can take in your career will be largely down to you and your choices. Your client base increases with experience, word of mouth and how successful you are at treating patients. Marketing and promoting your business is essential to get your name out there during the first stages.
An acupuncturist uses ancient therapy to maintain the health and management of conditions, diseases and injuries.
After several years of experience in the field, you can supervise or teach students or research and practise, research and practise another health therapy. Acupuncturists who visit patients’ homes or work in more than one setting can expand their potential client base and earnings. Also, you might be able to work overseas, but before doing so, research the working requirements of the country and the necessary qualifications to ensure you can practise.