If you are looking for an acupuncturist in Irvine, California, then this blog post will definitely help you. As an acupuncturist, I know how difficult it can be to find the right treatment. People ask me all the time how they can find a good acupuncturist in their hometown. This post was designed to help answer that question.
There are three important questions to ask when looking for an acupuncturist.
First question to ask is:
Is the person licensed to practice acupuncture? Strange question? Maybe. In California, you can tell if the person is licensed by looking at the initials after their name; look for the letters L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist) or O.M.D (Oriental Medical Doctor). These letters mean the practitioner is licensed to practice acupuncture in California.
California has set high levels of training for acupuncturists. The schooling of an acupuncturist in California is usually a six year graduate level program condensed into four years. Training includes all aspects of Western medicine as well as Traditional Oriental Medicine. At the end of the training the practitioner receives a Master’s of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine (M.S.T.O.M.) degree. To then become a licensed acupuncturist, one must pass the rigorous California State Board Examination and take numerous continuing education courses to maintain their license. Licensed Acupuncturists in California typically have over 3,500 hours of training.
There is a BIG difference between licensed and certified acupuncturists. Some medical doctors, chiropractors, and physical therapists get certified and have less than 300 hours of training. Some have only completed a couple of weekend classes! It takes years to become proficient in the practice of acupuncture. Doctors and therapists who only get certified to practice acupuncture through abbreviated training often have no clinical experience and have not treated real patients prior to receiving their certification. They are not required to take the California State Board Examination and have no continuing education requirements for acupuncture.
Here is a brief list of initials to look for:
- L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist)
- O.M.D. (Oriental Medical Doctor)
- A.P. (Acupuncture Physician), Florida
- D.O.M. (Doctor of Oriental Medicine), New Mexico
If you live outside of California make sure your acupuncturist is certified by the NCCAOM (National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine). NCCAOM certification is not required in California because the state regulations are much stricter. Many acupuncturists in California are both licensed by the state and certified by the NCCAOM.
Here are the initials you will see for practitioners certified by the NCCAOM:
- Dipl. O.M. (Diplomate in Oriental Medicine) Certified in both Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology.
- Dipl. Ac. (Diplomate in Acupuncture) Certified in Acupuncture (only)
- Dipl. C.H. (Diplomate in Chinese Herbology) Certified in Chinese Herbs (only)
The Second Question to ask is:
Do they speak your native language? It is important that the practitioner and patient speak the same language. A good acupuncturist will ask a number of questions and do a thorough examination; they want to get to know you. Communication is essential for acupuncture point selection. During treatment it is important to communicate how the treatment is working for you and what you are experiencing. Your practitioner should be able to communicate to you and explain the treatment process. In certain regions of the United States this will not be an issue, but in California we have a mixed population. Make sure your acupuncturist speaks fluent English (or the language you are most comfortable speaking).
The third Question to ask is:
Are the treatments tailored to you? Some acupuncturists will use the same treatment points on all of their patients, regardless of the condition. Acupuncture treatment must to be tailored to your own specific needs and modified for each visit. Schedule an initial consultation and ask the acupuncturist if their point selection is the same for all patients with a similar condition.
My acupuncture practice is called NowAcu. NowAcu is a combination of the words ‘Now’ and ‘Acupuncture.’ The entire philosophy of NowAcu is that treatment is based on what the patient needs in the present moment. You are a unique and dynamic individual and treatment is always modified for each session.
It is my hope that this information will help you find a great acupuncturist. Remember, your first impression of the acupuncturist is usually accurate. Check out their website; is it professional and up to date? Do they have an active blog and social media following? Testimonials, frequently asked questions, and a professional Bio should be on the website. Overall the website should offer enough information to answer your questions and give you an idea of the general philosophy of the practitioner. This will help you determine if you and the acupuncturist are a good fit. Having a licensed acupuncturist that speaks your language and tailors each treatment to you is essential.
Lori Sibbers, L.Ac., MS, Dipl. O.M. has been studying and practicing Acupuncture since 2003. She graduated top of her class from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine which is considered the ‘Harvard’ of acupuncture schools. Lori completed internships at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) and AcuSport Health Center. Lori has treated thousands of people with medical conditions such as chronic pain, stress, and orthopedic injuries. She was an elite athlete and has spent a lifetime studying the human body. Connect with her on Facebook here.