7 Tips for Choosing an Acupuncturist

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Written By Sarah Lewis, PharmD on May 22, 2017
  • Acupuncture
    A Personal Decision
    If an alternative approach to healthcare appeals to you, acupuncture may be a good fit. An acupuncturist is your partner in managing symptoms and promoting healing and wellness. Your acupuncturist will guide you through many decisions about protecting your health, or treating a condition or symptom with acupuncture. How do you find the best acupuncturist who is right for you? Here are some important factors to keep in mind.
  • Women on phone
    1. Get Referrals
    Start by asking your primary care doctor for a referral list of acupuncturists. You can also ask family, friends and other healthcare providers for recommendations. Take the time to research the acupuncturists’ credentials and experience on Healthgrades.com. As you narrow down your list, call each acupuncturist’s office and ask for a consult appointment to meet and interview the acupuncturist.
  • Man with laptop
    2. Research the Acupuncturist’s Credentials
    Licensure is one of the most important factors to consider when you are choosing an acupuncturist. It tells you that the acupuncturist has the necessary training, skills and experience to perform acupuncture. Also confirm that the acupuncturist has no history of malpractice claims or disciplinary actions. You can find the acupuncturist’s education, training, certifications, and malpractice and disciplinary history on Healthgrades.com and state websites.
  • Woman undergoing acupuncture treatment
    3. Consider the Acupuncturist’s Experience
    Experience matters when you’re facing pain, fatigue, and other chronic symptoms. The more experience an acupuncturist has with a condition or procedure, the better your results are likely to be. Ask how many patients with your specific condition the acupuncturist has treated. Also, find out about complication rates—complications the acupuncturist has encountered as well as your own risk of complications.
  • Young couple having acupuncture treatment
    4. Consider Gender
    It’s important to feel comfortable with your acupuncturist’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. When it comes to acupuncture, your own gender is also an important consideration. Acupuncturists are becoming more skilled in caring for women and men differently. Ask the acupuncturist about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.
  • Women in doctors office
    5. Evaluate Communication Style
    Choose an acupuncturist with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the acupuncturist, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? How well does the acupuncturist explain the practice of acupuncture, or are you left to research it yourself? Find an acupuncturist who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.
  • Leave feedback note on keyboard
    6. Review Patient Satisfaction Surveys
    Reading what other people have to say about an acupuncturist can provide insight into how the acupuncturist provides care, as well as how his or her practice is operated. Patient satisfaction surveys typically ask people about their experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office friendliness. You can learn how well patients trust the acupuncturist, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.
  • Rubber stamp marked with insurance
    7. Know What Your Insurance Covers
    Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care, you may need to choose an acupuncturist who participates in your plan. You should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and hospital quality as you select an acupuncturist from your plan. No coverage? Inquire if your acupuncture sessions are eligible for reimbursement through your employer's flexible spending plan.
7 Tips for Choosing an Acupuncturist

About The Author

Sarah Lewis is a pharmacist and a medical writer with over 25 years of experience in various areas of pharmacy practice. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree from West Virginia University and a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She completed Pharmacy Practice Residency training at the University of Pittsburgh/VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. 
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2017 May 22
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.