Dr. Stenstrom says the addition of acupuncture to your practice can provide great financial returns.

“When you get out of veterinary school, you have a knowledge of surgical and medical practices. Acupuncture can bridge the gap,” she says.

In some cases, she says, acupuncture can provide a treatment option when all others seem exhausted.

“With small animals, if medication isn’t showing improvement and surgery isn’t feasible, this can be another option rather than euthanasia,” Dr. Stenstrom says. “When we’ve tried everything to help a heifer come into heat or ovulate, we can try acupuncture. If a producer of breeding stock relies heavily on selling straws of semen from exceptional bulls, acupuncture may be able to provide a means of getting those last few straws from bulls that are near the end of their productive life.”

If acupuncture seems like a potential addition to your services, you can turn to many outlets for advice and training.

Learning The Skills

Three primary foundations exist for veterinary acupuncture training: International Veterinary Acupuncture Society, Chi Institute and the Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians.

Dr. Stenstrom says acupuncture training can be costly, and it requires several days away from your practice. However, trainings have become more condensed through the years, and webinar training is becoming more and more popular.

“It’s a lot for general practitioners to take, but when they leave, they are excited to be able to offer acupuncture to their clients,” she says. “But it’s not something for which you take the course and don’t use it. You have to use acupuncture frequently to get adept at it and to get a return on investment. If you don’t use it daily, you won’t get the return.”

In order to determine the best program for you, Dr. Stenstrom recommends researching your options.

“Are you interested in a scientifically based course, or more traditional Chinese acupuncture? That will help determine the best school for you,” she says. “Also, be sure you talk to other veterinarians across the country who have been through the programs and can discuss the benefits of your potential choice.”

Dr. Holt advises interested veterinarians to utilize the listing of acupuncturists in your area. The AAVA provides a search tool by state here. Find a veterinarian trained in medical acupuncture here.

Sometimes, Dr. Holt says, a veterinarian may be able to shadow a veterinary acupuncturist for a short period of time, if time simply doesn’t allow for a full, certified training.

“Many veterinarians have hung out with me, and I’ve given them resources to study at home,” he says. “Getting certified is an important aspect, but not everyone can do it because of time. Regardless of the training method, acupuncture takes a lot of practice and study to get right.”

He says beef practitioners shouldn’t assume their clients wouldn’t be interested in acupuncture without fully exploring the option.

“Veterinarians will say, ‘My interest is in beef cattle,’” Dr. Holt says. “We think that just because it’s a cow or bull, a producer won’t be interested in acupuncture. But we need to get away from that mind-set. We need to offer that modality for that animal. I’ve never had a producer tell me they don’t want to try acupuncture, but I’ve had many say that they do. We need to stop being fearful.”

Veterinary acupuncture, based on scientific research and measurable results, could prove to be an excellent addition to your practice, both for your clients, and for your bottom line.

No, it’s nothing to fear.

Learn more about the animal acupuncture here:

American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture

Chi Institute

International Veterinary Acupuncture Society

Colorado Veterinary Medical Association: Medical Acupuncture for Veterinarians



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