The integration of acupuncture into today's health care delivery system will be facilitated by an improved understanding among providers of the language and practices of both the traditional and conventional health care communities. Acupuncture focuses on a holistic, energy-based approach to the patients instead of a disease-based diagnostic and treatment model.

An imperative step for the integration of acupuncture into the contemporary health care system is the training and credentialing of acupuncturists by the appropriate State organizations. This is necessary to allow the public and other health practitioners to recognize skilled acupuncturists. The acupuncture educational bodies have made impressive progress in this area and is encouraged to continue along this course. Educational standards have been established for teaching of physician and non-physician acupuncturists. Many acupuncture educational programs are accredited by an organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A national credentialing agency is there for non-physician acupuncture practitioners and offers examinations for qualification of acupuncture practice. A nation-wide recognized examination for physician acupuncture practitioners has been established.

Most of States provide licensure or registration for acupuncture practitioners. Because certain number of acupuncturists have inadequate English skill, credentialing and licensing examinations should be offered in languages other than English where necessary. There is difference in the titles conferred in these processes, and the requirements to obtain licensure differ substantially. The range of practice authorized under these State requirements also varies. While States have the privileges to establish standards for profession licensures, consistency in these areas will offer greater confidence in the qualifications of acupuncture practitioners. For instance, not all States recognize the same credentialing examination, therefore making reciprocity complicated.

The occurrence of adverse events in acupuncture practice has been reported to be extremely low. However, these events have happened on rare occasions, some of which are life-threatening (e.g., pneumothorax). Therefore, appropriate safeguards for the protection of consumers have to be in position. Consumers should be fully informed of their treatment options, expected prognosis, relative risk, and safety practices to minimize these risks before their receipt of acupuncture. This information must be provided in a manner that is linguistically and culturally appropriate to the patients. Use of acupuncture needles should always follow FDA regulations, including use of sterile, single-use needles. It is noted that these practices are already being done by many acupuncturists; however, these practices should be standardized.

It has been reported that more than 1 million Americans currently accept acupuncture procedure every year. Continued access to qualified acupuncturists for appropriate conditions should be guarantied. Because numerous patients seek health care treatment from both acupuncturists and physicians, communication between these professionals should be strengthened and enhanced. If a patient is under the care of an acupuncturist and a physician, both practitioners should be aware. Both patients and providers have a responsibility to facilitate this communication.

Evidence suggests that some patients have inadequate access to acupuncture services because of inability to pay. Insurance companies can remove financial hurdles to access conditional on their willingness to provide coverage for appropriate acupuncture practices. More and more insurance companies are either considering this possibility or now offer coverage for acupuncture services. In States where there health insurance plans, and for people served by Medicare or Medicaid, expanding coverage to include appropriate acupuncture services would also help reduce financial barriers to access.

The website of Britannia Acupuncture Clinic will provide you with more information about acupuncture practice.

Author's Bio: 

Gale Benz is an alternative health commentator and blogger. She has interest in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture.