Acupuncture Practice Management

5 Must Have Skills for Acupuncturists

5 Must Have Skills for Acupuncturists

5 Must Have Skills for Acupuncturists


The list of 5 Must Have Skills for Acupuncturists was created in mind for acupuncturists everywhere who either currently own a practice or are a recent graduate looking to start.

To survive in the crowded market place of health care services, it is no doubt that having certain character traits and skills as an acupuncturist can increase your chances of success in practice. Yet, while we are caught up in the trials and tribulations of every day life we may not always be aware what skills we need to pull out of our tool box, and when.

In graduate school, you were sculpted into an expert of acupuncture and oriental medicine. You spent the hours studying acu-points, you practiced your craft, you learned about all the herbs in the book, and on top of that, you spent countless hours doing internships and meeting with your professors to make sure you were doing everything perfectly.

School has prepared you exceptionally well to be a healer and respected health care provider, but has it prepared you well for the market place?

Skills for Acupuncturists

Many acupuncturists would answer this question with a “No”, which is why this article came to fruition. This short list aims to serve as a reminder of key skills that have proven to be imperative to start an acupuncture practice, and grow it.

We not only find these skills relevant for the health care services sector, like acupuncture, but a wide variety of markets and industries as well. These 5 must have skills for acupuncturists are “non-negotiable” and their principles can be applied to any area of life or work.

This article will guide you through the 5 Must Know Skills for Acupuncturists, ultimately helping you to achieve success and satisfaction through doing what you love to do; healing people.


#1 Communication

James Humes once quoted “The art of communication is the language of leadership”, and as the leader of your acupuncture practice, communicating effectively is your duty. You are required to speak the language of leadership because you are an expert in the field and a leader for those who work for you.  Strong communication is a must – there is simply no way around it.

Communication is listed first and foremost because great communication skills can be a big factor in establishing credibility among patients, thus leading to your ability to acquire new patients. Moreover, your communication skills will also affect your ability to execute day-to-day operations through your employees.

Don’t worry if you think this is a weak point for you; good communication skills can be developed with practice.

Communication with new patients is particularly important because this could be the tipping point on whether or no they decide to receive treatment from you. How do you describe acupuncture and oriental medicine? Do you use words that lessen the patients’ uneasiness about needles? Do you address the common questions before they are even asked?

Acupuncturist Skills Communication

Practice explaining your craft in front of a spouse, friend, or fellow colleague, and have him or her role play a patient, asking questions as any patient normally would. At the end of your test consultation, have your friend honestly critique your ability to communicate effectively.

  • Did you explain how acupuncture works using key words that patients are receptive to? (i.e., relaxing, painless, thin and hair-like needles, etc)
  • Did you listen and address the patients’ need/problem?
  • And most importantly, did you communicate how acupuncture can help the patient, and why it helps?

This is a great place to start if you want to work on communication skills.

If you want to get better at anything, practice is crucial. The next step is to be mindful enough to execute what you have practiced during a live situation.

#2 Adaptability

The ability to adapt to your current environment or circumstances, whether it be good or bad, may be the hallmark to your success in life and in having your own acupuncture practice.

Acupuncturist Skills Adaptability

Here are two big reasons on why you need to be adaptable.

Reason number 1:

The universe does not always align in our favor, and that is just the nature of life. We may encounter angry patients, employees that show up late to work, credit card machine that breaks down, a printer breaks down, and so on. The array of things that can potentially go wrong or slow us down are immense.

Since we cannot escape the unpredictability of life itself, we need to ADAPT to the circumstances, situations, and personalities thrown in front of us each day.

What does “adapting” look like in the example of an acupuncture practice?

Listen to the angry patient; hear why they are upset, and take action to resolve the issue quickly. People want attention and to be heard when they are upset; an upset patient should never walk out the front door of your office until the issue is resolved.

If you are having employees consistently show up late to work, then you may need to adapt how you hire people. Have you checked the potential employees references to ensure they have good work ethic? Something to think about.

Have a plan B.If the credit card machine breaks and all the patient has is a credit card, how are you going to receive payment for the services you provided? Do your research and have a back up payment machine you can use for rare instances.

Your ability to adapt to new and faster technologies that can be implemented within your practice will save you money, headaches, and ultimately free up your time to think about the big picture. Technology that can save you time and money should not be overlooked, and is worth your effort to adopt into practice.

Reason Number 2:

The backbone of evolution has and will always be adaptability. Adaptability means acquiring new (and better) skills, learning new information, performing faster, and rising above the competition.

If a species doesn’t adapt, it is out-competed quickly by those who do; the death of the un-adapted species ultimately ensues. If you do not adapt your skills and adapt the practices within your business to be up to par or better than those you compete with in the market place, your acupuncture practice, without question, will be crushed by the competition.



#3 Focus

This point is simple but crucial. When you have a busy acupuncture practice, and you’re running around seeing patients all day, you have calls coming in, your employee made a mistake on something, it is easy to get a little scatterbrained and off-focus.

Your take home lesson for #3 is to practice being present, and exhibiting mindfulness in all your interactions with people. No patient or employee (or anyone for that matter!) enjoys speaking with someone who is half listening, eyes darting around, and appears as if they do not have control over themselves. This strips your self-confidence, and people will notice.

Do not take this point for granted.

Remember to take a deep breath. Remember to be focused on each situation and person.

#4 Sell your services

It does not matter if you are the best, most experienced acupuncturist in town – if you cannot sell your services, the patient will never know just how good you are.

5 Must Have Skills for Acupuncturists

While all points on this list are important, you may want to draw a little star next to this one.


Because patients that are sold on your service, and experience a positive outcome with your treatment, do not keep their mouths shut.

People love to talk about their experiences (health care related or not) to those close to them.

“I had a terrible experience there and do not recommend it to anyone!”…

“Oh, you have back pain? You have to see my acupuncturist. I had this terrible knee pain but it has gotten so much better since I have been going to see her…”

Once the patient is sold on your ability to help them, and when you deliver them results, word will spread.

If selling your service is something you struggle with, there are plenty of ways you can get help. Purchase some books on selling, and apply the principals you learn in a way that fits your acupuncture practice.

Acupuncture is an incredible form of alternative medicine. If you are really good, and you can’t sell your service, people will not be able to try it in the first place. This is not helpful to anyone.

If you don’t know how to sell your services well enough to convert someone to a patient, do yourself (and the patient) a favor and LEARN!


#5 Resourcefulness

Your ability to be resourceful in the process of setting up your acupuncture practice will give you new knowledge and also help you keep costs down.

Let’s be honest – opening up a practice is risky business, requiring a lot of planning and cash. If you are ready to do this, being resourceful can push in your favor.

Acupuncturist Skills Resourcefulness

This trait will not only save you some money, it will also help to protect you from people looking to make a quick buck off of your naivety. Don’t be that person!

Do thorough research to develop a plan before you open up a practice and make a list of all things you can invest the time in and get done. There is no point in racking up high credit card bills or loan debt to pay people to do something you could probably accomplish on your own.

For the to do items that you know 100% you cannot accomplish on your own, this may be a good time to reach out. Try close friends or family with the skill or expertise you need to get the job done. They may be more willing to lend a hand or give a fair price.

Your willingness to learn, do, and find out the answers yourself will pay off in the end.

And even when the money is flowing in… a “stay poor”, thrifty, resourceful mentality is in the best interest for your business and wallet.


For more information, tips, and suggestions on setting up your own acupuncture practice, check out our Acupuncture Business Success Class (5 PDAs/CEUs), that is approved by the NCCAOM & California Board.

Thanks for reading & keep learning,
ACE Staff