Marcos Y. Hsu, L.Ac, writes about his job as an acupuncturist at the University of Maryland Center for Integrative Medicine. What does your job entail? This form of ancient medical therapy involves a procedure where the practitioner inserts thin needles into the body where nerves, muscles, and connective tissue can be stimulated, often referred as Acupuncture points on Channels or Meridians. The desired result is increased blood flow that will release natural painkillers as well as a variety of hormones in the body to relieve pain while speeding up the natural healing from an assortment of different ailments. Acupuncture can be used as an adjunct to conventional medicine to treat ailments such as common aches and pains to chemo/radiation-induced side effects. What kind of schooling or training did you go through?I am a graduate from Maryland Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In the State of Maryland, an acupuncturist must undergo through schools accredited by The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and/or being certified by National Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in order to obtain their qualification to be an acupuncturists. My program in Maryland required me to undergo through 1950 hours minimum of training to perform acupuncture. In my personal case, I've also underwent through Acupuncture training and already being certified to practice acupuncture overseas prior to arriving to the U.S. Average salary: According to payscale.com, the range is $43,000 to $60,000 per year. What inspired you to this career? What inspired me was a personal experience in my childhood where acupuncture was able to help in an episode of anaphylaxis due to shellfish, which conventional medicine was unable to. Since that childhood experience, I became curious and attracted to Acupuncture, which eventually lead to my current lifelong profession. What do you like best about your job? Able to see beneficial changes in patient's conditions. Due to the nature and interval of the treatments, an acupuncturist can generally see with their own eyes each step and each improvement a patient achieves. Being able to see each improvement, no matter how small, generally gives us a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Furthermore, it's an honor able to be part of patient's consideration to become healthier with less aches and pains. What are the challenges? The challenges that we face are no different than any "newcomers." The general acceptance by the medical establishments and medical professionals is still lacking. Misconceptions regarding acupuncture are very common. There are also difficulties regarding medical terminologies, theories/principles that are very hard to translate making the merging of Eastern medical modality and Western medical modality one of the greatest challenges. In my personal opinion, more funding should be applied to the basic science research in Acupuncture.
Courtesy of University of Maryland Medical Center
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