Currently, the two central branches of ancestral oriental medicine, massage therapy and acupuncture, are part of university training. The particularity of the acupuncturist is the use of the needle. This discipline requires unique skills. But how to become an acupuncturist?
What is acupuncture?
Acupuncture comes from Chinese medicine. It consists of injecting needles into specific points of the body, without using substances. It is based on the principle that acupuncture points are like command centres which, if correctly chosen and stimulated, encourage the body to find its new balance. In fact, the acupuncturist, through the use of needles positioned along the meridians (or energy channels) of the body, restores balance, stimulates the immune system and acts as a treatment against pain according to the ancient system of traditional Chinese medicine. Along the meridians, acupuncture points are distributed, a place of energy emerging from the meridians themselves, where the qi (internal vital energy) can be manipulated, toning it when it is lacking, dispersing it when it is in excess.
Following an acupuncturist training
To become an acupuncturist in France, it is necessary to follow medical courses. The course is divided in most cases into three years with more than 500 hours of lectures and 100 sessions of exercises. It aims to guide students in the in-depth study of acupuncture, so that from the second year onwards, the student can begin the practice. Experienced, qualified and passionate teachers will accompany the students in their knowledge of this medicine and support them in clinical practice. At the end of the third year, having reached the required number of lessons (at least 80%) and passed the exams each year, the student will complete the training process by discussing a thesis followed by the delivery of the final diploma. The diploma awarded allows registration on the lists of professional acupuncturists of the medical and dental orders and qualified access to public competitions. The title has national validity and is equivalent to a second level Master’s degree.
A fairly young discipline
It is only recently that the French university has begun to introduce acupuncture into its courses (specialization courses, annual or biennial masters). Both acupressure and acupuncture are considered as alternative medicine. They provide a different response to frequent and disabling health problems. The acupuncturist and the massage therapist are in most cases self-employed. However, they can also be employed in chiropractic offices, clinics or health practices. Acupuncture practitioners can have lucrative careers with flexible and rewarding work schedules on many levels.