Suggestions for Choosing the Right Acupuncturist
Are all Acupuncturists the same?
Just as all medical doctors are not the same, all acupuncturists are not the same. Although an acupuncture practitioner cannot prescribe medication, he or she receives the same medical training as a physician and in many states, an acupuncturist is able to act as a primary care practitioner. Therefore, selecting the right practitioner is of the utmost importance.
Acupuncture patients typically spend more time per session with their acupuncture provider than they do with their primary care physician, so it’s vital to select the acupuncturist who is the best fit in background, lifestyle, and approach. For example, many acupuncturists recommend exercise and dietary regimens in their treatment protocols. If this approach is contrary to the patient’s preferences, the results may be unsatisfactory.
What Criteria Should You Look For?
Here’s a few bits of criteria you should be looking for in your quest to find the right acupuncturist.
- The best results are obtained when selecting an acupuncture practitioner who specializes in the area(s) to be treated. For example, sports injuries should be treated by an acupunture practitioner who specializes in sports medicine rather than in fertility. Not only does this make it easier to explain the problems that need to be addressed but it provides a common ground for the practitioner and the patient.
- Before making an initial appointment, go to the facility. It’s important to match the facility to the patient’. While some facilities may be grandiose, many are not and some are rather uninviting. Treatments will be more effective when done in an environment that is comfortable and inviting to the patient.
- Ask about the practitioner’s background, training and specialties, and the length of time he or she has been in practice. Although in many states, medical doctors and chiropractors can perform acupuncture, neither has the level of training that is required of a licensed acupuncturist. Most states have very stringent licensing and certification requirements for licensed acupuncturists.
In addition, there are many different types of Acupuncture so be sure to inquire as to which type(s) he or she is trained in. Some types and some areas of specialization are more effective for certain issues than others. For example, those needing help with one or more addictions should select a practitioner who specializes in the ears.
- Note the demeanor of the office person who scheduled the appointment as well as the general atmosphere in the office. It’s vital to feel comfortable during the session, so these factors are important.
- Unless the patient is paying out-of-pocket, be sure to ask about insurance plans that are accepted and if the office does the billing. The most cost-effective method is to choose a practitioner that is not out of the network. Also, any copays that are required should be determined beforehand.
Be sure to determine the price of each session. After the initial consultation, the practitioner should indicate how many sessions will be needed. Particularly if there is a need for long-term treatment, the per-session cost may become an issue.
The treatment duration should be determined only after a consultation. If it is done beforehand, it’s best to keep looking for another practitioner.
- Ensure that the office is easily accessible, both in location and in handicapped access if that is an issue. Office hours should be a good fit with the patient’s schedule, including evening and weekend hours. There should be enough parking to accommodate all the patients without the necessity of walking a considerable distance.
- Ask friends and family for referrals to choose an acupuncturist. Word of mouth is the best advertising and may be more reliable than other sources.
- Look online for a rating from the Better Business Bureau and check for any complaints or compliments that have been posted about the practitioner and/or the service he or she provides.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and do research on each practitioner before making a selection. It is time consuming to be sure, but will yield the best results for a lasting and healthy relationship with the practitioner.