Acupuncture and Oriental medicine (AOM) are among the most requested forms of treatment in the fast-growing field of complementary and integrative medicine and hold promise as among the key modalities to be used in current and future integrative medical settings.
Acupuncture practitioners can create financially supportive careers with flexible work schedules that are rewarding on many levels. An acupuncture career offers the opportunity for a balanced lifestyle for both the practitioner and her patients.
The acupuncturist is rewarded for helping others get well and stay well. They help people have less pain and more mobility.
Patients are viewed from a holistic perspective, taking into account their physical, mental, and emotional health. Acupuncturists are able to spend time developing a collaborative relationship with patients, assisting them in maintaining their health and promoting a consciousness of wellness.
The settings in which acupuncture practitioners work vary from a multi-disciplinary clinic with other health care professionals, to a hospital, to a private practice. Other career options include teaching, translating, publishing, research, or working with an acupuncture supply company.
According to the Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, there are approximately 20,000-25,000 AOMlicensees throughout the United States. While current data concerning the income of these practitioners nationwide is not available, recent estimates have suggested an annual starting salary range of $40,000-$80,000. It is not uncommon for practitioners to earn in excess of this amount, with reported salaries in some instances exceeding well over $100,000.
Most graduates of acupuncture schools and colleges start private practices and are their own boss. They can choose the work environment that is best for them.
As a result of increasing demand from health group members for alternative care coverage, group health insurance companies such as HealthNet, CIGNA, and Aetna provide varying degrees of acupuncture care coverage. The amount of coverage depends on each individual plan. Some health plan policies require that the individual or employer group purchase an additional “Alternative Medicine Rider” to provide coverage for acupuncture services.
A survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust, published in September 2004, revealed that employer coverage for acupuncture increased 14 percent from 2002 to 2004, making it one of the fastest-growing CAM therapies to be included as a covered service for American workers with health benefits. (Employer Health Benefits 2004 Annual Survey . ISBN #0-87258-812-2. Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Menlo Park, Calif., and Health Research and Educational Trust, Chicago, Ill. Copyright 2004.)
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