The integration of acupuncture into today's health care delivery system will be facilitated by a better understanding in practitioners of the language and practices of both the Eastern and Western health care communities. Acupuncture focuses on a holistic, energy-based model to the patients instead of a disease-oriented diagnostic and treatment approach.

An important factor for the incorporation of acupuncture into the modern health care system is the preparing and credentialing of acupuncturists by the appropriate State agencies. This is necessary to allow the general public and other health practitioners to recognize skilled acupuncturists. The acupuncture educational bodies have made impressive progress in this area and is encouraged to pursue this path. Educational criteria have been established for training of physician and non-physician acupuncture practitioners. Many acupuncture educational programs are accredited by an organization that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A federal credential agency is there for non-physician acupuncturists and offers exams for qualification of acupuncture practice. A nation-wide recognized exam for physician acupuncturists has been established.

Most of States provide licensure or registration for acupuncture practitioners. Since certain number of acupuncturists have inadequate English ability, credentialing and licensing exams should be offered in languages other than English where needed. There is difference in the titles that are conferred through these processes, and the requirements to obtain licensure vary widely. The scope of practice allowed under these State requirements also varies. While States have the privileges to set standards for licensing professions, consistency in these fields will provide greater confidence in the qualifications of acupuncturists. For instance, not all States recognize the same credentialing examination, therefore making reciprocity difficult.

The occurrence of adverse events in the practice of acupuncture has been documented to be extremely low. However, such events have happened on rare occasions, some of which are life-threatening (e.g., pneumothorax). Therefore, appropriate safeguards for the protection of consumers need to be in place. Patients should be fully informed of their treatment options, expected prognosis, relative risk, and safety practices to minimize these risks before they receive acupuncture. This information have to be offered 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 known that these are already being practiced by many acupuncturists; however, these practices should be uniform.

It has been confirmed that more than one million Americans currently receive acupuncture every year. Sustained access to qualified acupuncturists for appropriate conditions need to be ensured. Because many patients seek health care treatment from both acupuncturists and physicians, communication between these professionals need to be strengthened and improved. If a patient is under the care of an acupuncturist and a physician, both practitioners should be informed. Both patients and providers should be responsible for facilitating this communication.

There is evidence that some consumers have limited access to acupuncture services because of lack of ability to pay. Insurance companies can reduce financial barriers to access depending on their willingness to provide coverage for appropriate acupuncture practices. An increasing number of insurance companies are either considering this possibility or now provide coverage for acupuncture services. Where there are State health insurance plans, and for people served by Medicare or Medicaid, expansion of coverage to include appropriate acupuncture services would also help remove financial hurdles 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.