Choosing An Acupuncturist in New York
Below you can find a brief summary of the things you should consider when selecting an acupuncturist. Remember you are the patient and it is your body — feel free to ask as many questions as you want. If you decide not to hire a practitioner, you do not need to provide them with any explanation. Acupuncture is very personal and simply not feeling connected to the practitioner is a perfectly good reason for not hiring someone.
Review the information below and feel empowered in conducting your search.
One of the best ways of choosing an acupuncturist is to ask people you know for a recommendation. If you do not know anyone who has had acupuncture, then you can find a listing on the Acupuncture Society of New York’s website and on the websites of the National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. These organizations provide listings of their members in good standing.
Of course many acupuncturists have websites and a search for practitioners in your community will help you to identify option for choosing an acupuncturist.
Contacting the Practitioner
Whichever method you use to locate practitioners, once you have located one or two options, contact the practitioner and briefly discuss your situation. It is important that you are comfortable with your practitioner. At this stage that is what you are attempting to assess.
If you are not comfortable, then move on. If you are comfortable then it is appropriate to ask about their training and experience, particularly as it relates to your particular condition.
One thing to be aware of when choosing an acupuncturist is that in NYS to practice acupuncture you must be authorized by the State. Practitioners are either L.Ac.s or C.Ac. An L.Ac. is a Licensed Acupuncturist and a C.Ac. is a Certified Acupuncturist. The difference between the two is primarily one of education. L.Ac.s are generally required to have significantly more education in acupuncture then C.Ac.s.
- L.Ac. Educational Qualifications
- Non Masters Degree Practitioners
Ask about their education. In NYS all acupuncturists do not have the same level of education. Some practitioners have degrees from institutes, others have degrees from colleges. Some may have begun practicing before there were any educational requirements and may have no formal education.
Those who attended an institute have a level of training that does not result in a College Diploma. Others have training at the level of a Masters Degree.
- Masters Degree Practitioners
Within this group, they have earned either a MSAC, which is a Masters in Acupuncture or an MSTOM which is a Masters in Traditional Oriental Medicine. The MSTOM is broader in scope than the MSAC. The MSTOM degree represents the study of acupuncture and additional subjects, such as herbal studies. The MSTOM represent a higher level of formal training than the MSAC or the certified practitioner. The course of study involves upwards of 4,050 hours.
- L.Ac. Other Certifications
Some L.Ac.s are members in Good Standing of professional organizations. One such organization is the National Commission on Certification of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. To be a member of this organization the practitioner is required to pass a National Certification Exam and to maintain this certification must participate in continuing professional education courses which have been approved by the Commission. You should feel free to ask about all of these qualifications.
- C.Ac. Educational Requirements
This certification is available to medical doctors and dentists. The are only requirement to complete 300 hours of training in acupuncture in order to practice in NYS. They are permitted to perofrm the same services as licensed acupuncturists who have as many as 4,200 more hours of training.
Costs and Insurance
If you have insurance coverage for acupuncture, determine if they accept your particular insurance. Be sure to ask about fees and cancellation policies. You may also want to view the practitioner’s website to learn more about them and their practice.
The bottom line is that they will become one of your health care providers and it is important that you satisfy yourself about their practice and that you are comfortable working with them.