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Oriental Medicine Practitioner Job Description, Career as a Oriental Medicine Practitioner, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training Bachelor’s degree and certification

Average Salary $61,000 per year

Job Outlook Very good

Basic Job Description

Oriental medicine practitioners use forms of acupuncture and treatment through the Chinese concept of “qi,” which means energy. Oriental medicine treats a variety of ailments including headaches, back pain, arthritis, or other illnesses by identifying patterns of imbalance within a body’s energy levels and working to readjust fluids or tissues in order to keep the body in balance and relieve pain. Oriental medicine techniques include acupuncture, cupping, acupressure, and herbal supplements that are applied to specific body parts or tissues. Practitioners must be able to evaluate a patient’s symptoms and identify what organs or tissues are causing the ailment, and come up with a customized plan that incorporates oriental herbs and practices into a treatment.

Acupuncture treatments involve the use of needles being placed in joints and tissues. Cupping involves using cups as a suction equipment to help release toxins from within the body. Acupressure is a form of massage that applies pressure on various points in order to relieve pain in other body parts. Herbal supplements are used to treat ailments from the inside and flush toxins out that may be the cause. These are some of the most popular forms of oriental medicine that are used to treat a variety of conditions.

Education and Training Requirements

Education and training requirements vary state to state for becoming an oriental medicine practitioner. Some practitioners are licensed to be a physician’s assistant and then take classes to become certified in oriental medicine. Most practitioners earn a Bachelor’s degree in biology or another medical related field, then go on to fill state requirements for practicing oriental medicine. Most states require students to work as an intern or apprentice for a specific number of hours in order to qualify for certification, and then have them take an examination to become certified through the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.
Most training is obtained during an internship or apprenticeship, and many students who work as intern often get hired in as a full-time practitioner once their certification is obtained.

Getting the Job

Aside from becoming certified and gaining a certain number of internship hours, the right person for working in oriental medicine must possess certain qualities in order to succeed. An oriental medicine practitioner must feel comfortable working closely with the human body and inserting needles into specific joints or tissues. They must also be calm and friendly in order to make patients feel comfortable, as they may have to remove clothes or wear nothing but a towel or drape.

Practitioners need to be able to identify specific ailments and be able to determine what method of oriental medicine will heal it the most effectively. They have to determine the cause, location and nature of the disease to differentiate between symptoms that are similar to other ailments. Many ailments have very similar symptoms, so a practitioner must be able to use specific methods to identify the cause.

Job Prospects, Employment Outlook and Career Development

Job prospects for oriental medicine practitioners, as many hospitals, clinics and patients are looking toward alternative medicine procedures to cure certain ailments. Many patients also prefer to rely on alternative medicine like oriental medicine and therapy because it does not use chemicals or prescription drugs. Medical advancements are also incorporating the use of Chinese medicine into procedures and cures to some medical conditions.

Most oriental medicine practitioners start off working for a hospital or massage therapy clinic. Over time, many practitioners move on to become self-employed, performing Chinese medicine out of their home or own personal clinic. Many also become trained in massage therapy to provide those services to patients as well. There are many business opportunities in oriental medicine between medical advancements and the demand from patients who want to incorporate therapy practices into their life.

Working Conditions and Environment

Most oriental medicine practitioners work in a hospital or private clinic. Most procedures involve the use of calming relaxation techniques, so it is important for a practitioner to make sure the room and environment is relaxing for the patient. Some rooms and procedures may involve candlelight or incense, so it is the practitioner’s job to make sure the environment and atmosphere is just right for the patient.

Some oriental medicine practitioners work in hospitals where the environment can become stressful or tense if patients are dealing with extreme pain or illness. Hospital practitioners will need to be able to maintain a calm disposition with patients even in a stressful or uncomfortable situation. It is their job to relax the patient and help to quickly treat any extreme pain.

Salary and Benefits

The average starting salary for an oriental medicine practitioner is about $61,000 per year. Salaries in this field vary according to where a practitioner works. Someone who starts off working in a hospital will probably make more than someone working in a small private clinic. Practitioners who work in private clinics often work for tips on top of their salary, so they still have the potential to make a significant amount of money if they maintain a good reputation with clients.

Most practitioners who work in hospitals have the benefit of a secure health benefit plan as well as vacation and sick time. Practitioners who work for private clinics or are self-employed will have to find an individual health insurance plan as well as schedule work and vacation around patient’s needs.

Where to Go for More Information

National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
76 South Laura Street, Suite 1290
Jacksonville, FL 32202
(904) 598-1005

Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation
34 West 27 Street, Suite 1212
New York, NY 10001
(212) 274-1079

Council of Colleges of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
600 Wyndhurst Avenue, Suite 112
Baltimore, MD 21210
(410) 464-6040

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