I'm Not An Acupuncturist, I Just Play One On TV

Over the past few years, there has been a movement to get doctors involved in the holistic side of medicine. Great news, right? Don't we want Western medical doctors to start accepting and acknowledging acupuncture as a viable form of treatment? Well, yes, but only if they are using our medicine in the manner which it was meant to be used. Let me explain. Doctors have started to realize the benefits of acupuncture on patients, and they want to incorporate this medicine into their own practices. Wonderful. But what isn't so wonderful is the lack of training that these physicians have. Doctors can now take a 6 week course on the basics of acupuncture, and then use it in their practice. In six weeks, I imagine, they are learning point location and what those points do. And that is all. They couldn't possibly cram four years of theory and technique into a six-week program. So, at the end, what they will have at their disposal will be knowledge of the most commonly used points for the most common ailments. This does not make them acupuncturists, and if they are promoting themselves as such, their patients will never know what real acupuncture is.

It saddens me to see this, because there are people out there who are not going to do their homework. They will see someone who does a little needling and has a Ph.D. after his name, and assume that this person must be a superior acupuncturist, since he is also a doctor. They may get some results, but what they getting isn't truly acupuncture. In the first few weeks of school, I treated many of my friends with acupressure on various points I had just learned-and these treatments were astoundingly successful. However, that didn't make me an acupuncturist-it simply made me a person with a few good tricks up my sleeve. It wasn't until I fully understood the theory and diagnostic process that I was actually performing acupuncture. In my first few weeks of school, I couldn't promote myself as an acupuncturist; why should others who have just as much training be able to?

Lately, I have also been hearing about chiropractors and massage therapists who are using acupuncture without ever having been trained or licensed in it. This is completely unacceptable! No one should be inserting needles into your body without a license and degree, and if anyone tries to tell you that they have trained themselves in acupuncture, walk out the door. Anyone that unprofessional does not deserve you as a client.

If I have a client who needs a spinal adjustment, I suggest a chiropractor. I would never in a million years try to adjust them on my own, because I have no training or license. Many of my patients ask about dietary suggestions, and I won't tell them anything without prefacing it with, "I'm not a nutritionist, and if you want dietary advice you should see one. I can tell you some things I might do if I were you, but bear in mind that I am not a professional and this is just an opinion." It's not a matter of worrying about getting sued-it's simply unprofessional to go beyond my scope of practice. And believe me, I am happy just to be good at my own job, without adding things in that I am unqualified for.