Where I’m From

So, the ethnicity thing, it comes up every so often. I imagine it would be very reassuring for my patients to know that I’ve been steeped in mysticism since birth and that my family has been one of healers for countless generations. Be assured that my license is current, I am very good at what I do, and if I don’t think I can help you, I won’t bother to schedule an appointment. However, I am an American girl from Alabama, and when I announced that I was going to acupuncture school, my parents would have grounded me, had I still been a minor. I haven’t been “back” to The Orient, though I did spend the summer after college in a telecomm internship in Taejon. (See yesterday’s for why engineering and acupuncture actually are a fine fit.) Be glad I grew up here; my training was in English.

It is important to find a competent practitioner with whom you feel comfortable. This can be a difficult task. Some people base competence on tradition, ethnicity, if they trained overseas, or if the practitioner is on their insurance provider list. Hopefully that’s not all they base it on. Now, the insurance thing I’ll give you; there’s no denying cost counts. But in my universe, how much bottom line is a more important number than what percent. I do try to price fairly.

So, having established the fallacy of Oriental (sic) acupuncturists being inherently superior, what are some good criteria?

I go with safety first. (Gender neutral masculine pronouns to follow.) Is he licensed in your state? You can usually look this up on the medical board website, which should also list any suspensions or disciplinary actions. Does he have diplomate status with the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine? Are the needles single-use, sterile, and sealed? Is there a sharps container securely in the treatment room? Does the office feel clean and safe?

Then there is the convenience factor. If you live an hour’s drive away, chances are, you won’t manage to come in as often as will benefit you. If I know someone in your area, I am happy to refer you. More likely, I’ll point you to a website with a zipcode search function, like NCCAOM or acufinder.

Last to mention but not in importance, the guts of it, personal and professional compatibility. Does he make you feel comfortable? Does he treat you with respect? Answer your questions? Listen well? Manage your time well? Is it working? Is he willing to refer you to someone else if it’s not? I have no doubt that someone who has 20 years of experience is likely a more competent practitioner than I am, but he may not be a better fit for you. Sometimes all the practitioner needs is “Where does it hurt?” but often, communication is very important. It’s another thing I’m always striving to improve. How am I doing?