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September, 2011

Integrating Acupuncture Into a Chiropractic Practice

By James S. Copeland, DC, FIAMA

In these times of diminishing insurance payments and fewer patient visits, acupuncture can be both a lucrative adjunct to a practice, and a beneficial therapy for the patients.

Why Bring Acupuncture Into Your Practice?

The simple answer is that it can bring added revenue into your practice, and can help speed up recovery in your patients. The added positive to this is that it is not difficult to incorporate into your practice. Unless the doctor has absolutely no interest in improving these aspects of a practice, this is a no-brainer.

What Specifically Are The Benefits to Patients?

Acupuncture, when done in addition to chiropractic care, will help you resolve cases that might otherwise have failed to respond in the past. It is relatively safe to perform, and once patients have received treatment, they are usually quite enthusiastic about coming in. Pain relief and faster healing time are the two most notable benefits to the patient.

What Are Other Benefits to The Practice?

Along with added income and improved patient treatment outcomes, there is also the advantage of "another product or service" offered by your office. Patients looking for acupuncture will be more likely to choose a chiropractor who offers this service over a "lay acupuncturist," because the public is more familiar and more comfortable going to a chiropractor. Would you rather go to a person in a familiar profession like chiropractic or a non-doctor practitioner who does not have the training in diagnosis, x-ray, etc. that you have? Many patients would rather go to a practitioner who has many skills than one who provides only one service. In short, you will have a more marketable practice with the addition of acupuncture.

What Are the Training Requirements?

In some states, the hours of training required to practice acupuncture is still 100 classroom hours. Many states are now beginning to require 200 hours, and there are plans to eventually require 300 hours. Many states differ on the amount of training required, and doctors interested in practicing acupuncture should contact their State Chiropractic Boards to find out if it is allowed in their state. There is now a National Board Exam that is required in order to become certified by state boards. This is provided by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners to insure that those who wish to practice acupuncture, meet equal standards across the country.

Many of our chiropractic colleges offer post-graduate programs in acupuncture, and there are several independent groups outside of the college that offer accredited programs as well. The doctor need do no more than call the post grad division of a college offering this post grad program. Most of these programs will also be listed on the college websites.

Diplomate in Chiropractic Acupuncture

The American Chiropractic Association now offers a Diplomate in Chiropractic Acupuncture. Dr's Richard Yennie and John Amaro, both senior instructors of acupuncture in the chiropractic profession. Dr. Zev Myerowitz, one of the founders of the International Academy of Chiropractic Acupuncture, also offers a 300 hr. program in New England which leads to Diplomate status. John Sunderlage, who teaches acupuncture through the National University of Health Sciences in Chicago, offers beginning and advanced acupuncture for chiropractors as well. It is through these doctors and others, that acupuncture has advanced in our profession.

How Long Does it Take to Become Certified to Practice Acupuncture?

For many 100 hour courses, a doctor can complete the program in anywhere from 4 to 8 sessions, depending on the length. For the 200 hour programs, you would double those figures.

Dr. Yennie offers weekend programs that complete 25 hours per weekend. Others are taking the iniative and following his example with shorter total time spent. To find out when and where the National Board Exams are given, the candidate should contact the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

Needle or Non-Needle Acupuncture?

In chiropractic, we find doctors practicing acupuncture a number of ways. Some use traditional needles, while others use microcurrent, cold laser, acupressure, tenshin, etc. Regardless of the systems used, acupuncture is now well established in our profession and hopefully, is here to stay.

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