Canference 2 Keynote: Occupy, Resist, Produce

This is a unique time; the community acupuncture movement is in the process of shifting its foundation from CAN to POCA, from a 501c6 nonprofit to a cooperative. There's change happening at every level. We're only about five years old as an organization, and yet we've done a total overhaul already.

In the interests of exploring that change, I'd like to spend some time talking about producers and consumers.

(This controversial keynote speech is dedicated to Macey Webb, John Weeks, and Victor Kumar. And they will know why.)

In May 2010, some of us from WCA took a field trip and drove up I 5 to visit the Northwest Cooperative Development Center in Olympia to talk to the experts about cooperatives.

They had all these brochures about setting up co-ops published by the US Dept of Agriculture and they gave them to us. The covers of the brochures all had illustrations of things like combines and tractors. I remember taking them and feeling kind of reverent. I thought, see, that's how you know things have gotten serious – when farm machinery is involved.

You can convey a lot with an image, even when it's just a line drawing of a tractor on a brochure. As you all know, I'm sort of obsessed with the images that the acupuncture profession uses to represent itself, so I'm going to talk about those for a while. I promise, I swear, this is not just egregious snark, I'm going somewhere with this -- producers and consumers.

I've noticed, in looking at acupuncture websites, there is often a kind of template for how the acupuncturists describe themselves. In the “about us” section. For example.

“While seeking her own path, Jane Doe L.Ac discovered the ancient art of Chinese medicine. She has traveled many times to Asia to study in various programs and found that these experiences greatly enriched her practice and her life. She is fascinated by energy work, qi gong, and the healing power of nature. She enjoys gardening, hiking, long walks on the beach, spending quality time with her family and friends, and quietly contemplating the beauty of the natural world. She also devotes a great deal of time to her yoga and meditation practices. She embraces acupuncture as one of many paths to a rich and balanced life.” Especially for herself.

Seriously, is that what you would put on a resume? From the perspective of normal people – which is to say, not acupuncturists – what does any of this actually have to do with work? And don't get me started on the photos that usually accompany these bios. Like the text, they are often more suited to a dating website than a business. But there's a reason for this.

If the acupuncture profession had to make the kind of brochures that the Dept of Agriculture does, instead of pictures of tractors, we would probably end up with lovely illustrations of reclining acupuncturists, gazing at the moon. Not doing acupuncture -- just quietly contemplating its beauty and complexity. Dreaming about our lifestyles.

Because one of our big problems is that we acupuncturists are not producers, we are consumers.

Skip actually brought this up quite a while back, when we were talking about the issue of renting spaces for clinics. 10 years ago, when we found our big, cheap, ugly space, there were no other acupuncturists in our particular neighborhood in Portland – and if there had been, they would not have touched that building with a 10 foot pole. 10 years later, there are still no other acupuncturists in our particular neighborhood in Portland, although there are over 800 licensed acupuncturists in the Portland metro area. We have noticed that they tend to concentrate themselves in a few trendy, pretty areas – which of course does not and never will describe where we live. This kind of issue can also come up with community acupuncturists when they are looking for space: they often go for something too small and too expensive. Instead of looking for the biggest, cheapest space that they can find – something they could grow into over time, something that would allow them to reach the most underserved people – they gravitate towards what they think of as a desirable location. Which often means a place that someone else has already made desirable, and of course pretty. They are approaching the issue of finding space from the perspective of a consumer, not of a producer.

I've written about this before in a few different blog posts, and we've all talked about it periodically, but I think at this point in our collective evolution, it's really worth digging into – there are two main business models within acupuncture, and I'm not talking about the community model and the conventional model. I'm talking about the business of acupuncture, and the business of acupuncture education. Most of what we call “the acupuncture profession” is really just an aspect of the business of acupuncture education. A lot of us think that being an acupuncturist means being a very serious, very committed consumer of acupuncture education. It's not really about doing it, it's about endlessly learning to do it, to the point that you don't know when you can stop learning and just get down to business with what you've got.

Often this looks like being a consumer of knowledge: going to seminars and workshops and classes, maybe even going back to school to get a DAOM degree. Because we never question that consuming more knowledge makes us better practitioners, right? I'm not saying learning new things is bad. I am saying that there is a noticeable emphasis among acupuncturists, and it's very uncritical, on the process of consuming and absorbing knowledge, and a very noticeable lack of emphasis on using whatever knowledge we have to help real live people. We tend to be passive rather than active. And like the template that you see in so many acupuncturists website bios, it's all about us and what we consume, the fascination of Chinese medicine and the fascinating lives we have, not on the results we can produce – such as relief from pain -- for people who need those results.

One of the challenges you often hear to the community acupuncture model is that it doesn't allow for patient education. When you treat 6 or 8 people an hour, how can you talk to them about how acupuncture works? You can't, of course; you don't have time. You do have time, and you can listen to them tell you about how acupuncture works for their lives and their bodies, and I'll get to why that's important a little later. But you can't give them lectures about the seasons and the elements and damp-producing foods. When I first started talking and writing about the model, that particular criticism was one that I heard all the time, and especially as a reason that there was no market for community acupuncture. People seek out alternative medicine, I heard, because they are drawn to learning about holistic concepts. They don't just want to experience acupuncture in silence and draw their own conclusions – that's ridiculous! – they want to hear their acupuncturist talk about it. I think there are some very interesting assumptions in there about who is coming to acupuncture and what they are coming for, and whether they have the luxury of learning an entirely new paradigm about how the universe works in the midst of also being in pain, but that's all I'll say about that for now.

There really are a lot of elements in the acupuncture profession that resemble multi-level marketing, and this idea of patient education is one of them. Many of us became acupuncturists because we were fascinated with the concepts of Chinese medicine, and we paid a lot of money to listen to people talk about them. Now it's our turn, and so we go looking for people who will pay us to talk about those concepts, and we call that having a practice, and we like to think that we are in business for ourselves. But like all multi-level marketing schemes, the only people who truly benefit from this arrangement are the ones at the top of the pyramid; in the end, it's all their business, and we are still just the consumers, even if we have managed to create another level of consumers under us. The acupuncture schools are at the top of the pyramid, and everything else supports them.

You know what's interesting about this, is that acupuncture itself is poorly suited to this kind of multi level marketing, and poorly suited to a consumer mentality, period. And that of course is what I love about it, what a lot of us love about it. Essentially, it's so simple: needles and cotton balls and stillness. It's so powerful, and when it works, you don't really know why. There's nothing flashy that you can grab and show off to the world; there's really nothing that you can sell. There's just a person sitting quietly with needles and finding relief from pain or stress or tension. There's not much there that you as a practitioner can claim – not if you're really honest – because the source of the power is inside the patient. The experience of healing belongs to them. How terribly inconvenient for capitalism.

It's been 20 years exactly since I started acupuncture school, and during that time, I've met an awful lot of acupuncturists who didn't really believe in acupuncture. And I think this is why. I've met even more acupuncture educators and acupuncture practice management gurus who didn't believe in acupuncture. I've heard over and over, if you want to be successful, you can't just do acupuncture. You have to give patients herbs. You have to give them counseling. You have to sell them supplements and scented candles. You can't make a living just doing acupuncture. The irony here of course is that successful acupuncturists who make a lot of money selling supplements and scented candles and doing lifestyle counseling didn't really need to go to acupuncture school. They could have skipped the whole thing and just gotten a really good inventory of supplements and scented candles.

I'm going to propose, that if you do a lot of acupuncture, or even if you get a lot of acupuncture – and if it's just acupuncture, not a kitchen sink full of dietary theory and scented candles and balance balls – it will actually ruin your ability to be a good consumer. It might even knock you right out of the pyramid. Because it will give you so much direct experience of healing itself, which can't be bought or sold.

A lot of patients describe how they feel when they get acupuncture as being centered. Feeling like themselves again. Even getting their lives back. This is actually the opposite of being a consumer. When you're a consumer, you're reaching for something outside yourself. There is almost always something off balance, even desperate about it. Acupuncture cures that kind of imbalance. It allows you to drink from your own wellsprings. It allows you to be nurtured by your own energy.

And that makes our jobs as acupuncturists into something that is, ideally, simultaneously very humble and very sacred; very simple and very respectful. We do a lot of standing back and getting out of the way while people heal themselves. That position is not conducive either to being a consumer of acupuncture education, or to creating other consumers. We're not interested in showing off all the knowledge we have that patients don't have, in hopes of trying to sell it to them. We're interested in letting people discover their own experience of acupuncture, which is often the same thing as helping them have a deeper experience of themselves. Not of acupuncture theory; of themselves.

A lot of us went to acupuncture school because we bought, without knowing it, a fantasy. A fantasy about being a healer – and I know that the version I paid for did not involve images of me getting out of the way while my patients did all the really important stuff themselves. There are several school websites that suggest that being an acupuncturist, professionally, is about being an agent of transformation. They're sort of hazy about what that actually looks like; you wouldn't necessarily assume that it looks like shutting up and getting out of the way. A lot of us bought a fantasy about the kind of life we would have as an acupuncturist; we would have a great work-life balance, for instance. When we weren't being agents of transformation, we'd have lots of time for walks on the beach. Unfortunately we didn't realize that we might have more time than we really wanted for walks on the beach because we wouldn't actually be working or making a living by doing acupuncture. We didn't realize that we were approaching acupuncture as if it were a kind of decoration, a kind of lifestyle accoutrement, rather than a genuinely demanding vocation. Getting out of the way, over and over and over, for lots of different kinds of people, demands discipline and patience and a certain kind of selflessness. It's work. It's not a pleasant fantasy about a personal lifestyle – it's work.

The truth is, healing doesn't look like much, and being a healer isn't glamorous. It's lots of things, but glamorous isn't one of them. I think those of us who really get into being acupuncturists, who treat lots of people over the long haul, do it because we know that it benefits us to cultivate that kind of discipline and patience and selflessness. It makes us better people, and we need to be better people. We stay in this job because we're the ones who need to be transformed. We are aware that consuming pleasant fantasies – or even consuming fascinating knowledge – isn't going to do it for us. To be transformed, we need to do something. In fact, we need to do something over and over, and we need to do it for other people. We need to be useful. We need to work.

I'm going to stick with what I said earlier – you know things are serious when there's farm machinery involved. Our version of those drawings of tractors is Circle Community Acupuncture's line drawing of a recliner, which I am proud to see on the cover of our documentary. Recliners are our tools, and as such, they have beauty and dignity. (j/k) Becoming a producer gives you some dignity that being a consumer doesn't. Being a producer means being continually creative, and continually useful. It's hard, but it's hard in a good way; ask any farmer. Being a consumer can be fun for short bursts, but if you're committed to it as a lifestyle, it's pretty depressing. It's particularly depressing if what you're consuming is a fantasy; an artificial dream that someone else dreamed for you; a dream that was constructed for the purpose of making someone else some money. It takes energy and initiative to dream your own dreams, especially the kind that you can turn into reality by working on them. Being a consumer involves less effort, and plenty of other people will facilitate it for you. Being a producer takes some courage.

In 2001, the economy in Argentina basically collapsed. Many businesses went bankrupt or were shut down because they were no longer profitable, leaving their workers without jobs and without a means of supporting their families. And then something very interesting happened. They call it “the movement of recovered companies”. Workers formed cooperatives and took over the abandoned factories in a desperate attempt to keep their jobs. And it worked. Apparently it's still working. There are hundreds of factories that were abandoned by their owners that are now engaged in production again as cooperatives, and are self-managed by their workers. The slogan of the recovered companies movement was, “Occupy, Resist, Produce.”

One of the most common questions I get from people outside of the community acupuncture movement – and occasionally from people within it – is, “So where do you see this thing going?” They want to know if I expect that acupuncture schools will begin to teach community acupuncture, if I expect that more insurance companies will pay for acupuncture, if Western medicine will embrace us, if Walmart will set up community acupuncture clinics in its stores. (That particular Zang Fool blog is still hitting some nerves.) And often I don't know what to say. In part that's because I can't see the future any better than anybody else, and in part it's because it's really challenging, even if you spend a lot of time on it as I do, to fully get your head around the economic state of the acupuncture profession. But I keep trying, and I'd like to share my latest best guess.

My latest best guess is that we should think hard about that slogan from the recovered companies movement, maybe try it out for POCA. Occupy, resist, produce.

Awhile back, a very senior practitioner who is also a public figure in the acupuncture world wrote a blog post in which he wondered whether acupuncture would survive as a profession in America beyond this generation. He didn't give a lot of details, but he was alluding to the situation that everyone knows but most people don't want to talk about, which is the simultaneously high failure rate of acupuncturists and the skyrocketing tuition at acupuncture schools. Basically, it looks like not only the acupuncture profession, but the acupuncture education profession itself, is unsustainable. Right now, we are most likely experiencing a bubble. An acupuncture education bubble, in which tuition keeps expanding, and at least for some schools, enrollment expands as well. It expands and expands and expands. Right up until the moment that it pops.

What do you think will happen when the acupuncture education bubble pops? A major reason that we seem to have an acupuncture profession at all is that we have an acupuncture education profession. Acupuncturists graduate and go out of business in rapid succession, state acupuncture associations flounder and languish, the AAAOM is having serious budget issues; but the schools are still around, and of course the ACAOM and the NCCAOM, which are really just extensions, economically, of the schools. The acupuncture establishment, as we like to call it around here, is essentially all about the schools.

I hate to be cynical, but sometimes from my perspective it looks like we have things like licensing laws and independent practice acts and state acupuncture associations only as window dressing for the real product, which is schooling. Most acupuncturists aren't producing anything, although we like to think that we are; we are really just the consumers in this scenario. And I hate to suggest that the people involved in the acupuncture establishment are anything less than scrupulous, but don't you think it's odd that they are not worried about the failure rates in the profession? Don't you think it's strange that we – this community -- have emerged as a kind of collective professional gadfly, that we are always the ones bringing up the issue of sustainability? What do you think the odds are that the people in the acu-establishment, like the owners of the factories in Argentina, are going to abandon the whole mess when it is no longer convenient and profitable for them?

I want to propose to you that there's a lot of overlap between our situation and the situation that sparked the recovered companies movement. In the case of the factory workers in Argentina, some things were a little more obvious: they had jobs and were getting paid, and then one day they weren't getting paid, they still had jobs but were owed back pay, and then the next day, the factory where they worked was shut down, and they didn't have jobs at all anymore. Most of us in this room never had jobs in the first place unless we created them for ourselves. But we did think that we had a profession. We went to the schools, and we sat for the tests, and we applied for the licenses, and we thought we had a profession. But from where we stand right now, we can see the hollowness of what we thought, at one time, was solid. Our profession doesn't have a padlock on the outside, like the factories in Argentina, it doesn't have a sign that says, “closed for business” but if we look carefully we can see how it could empty itself out. We can see how, when it ceases to be a vehicle for extracting money from unsuspecting students, it could just collapse altogether.

I have been thinking a lot about the Occupy Wall Street movement, and it's so encouraging, and I'm almost afraid to get my hopes up about it. But regardless of where that all goes, I think we need to think about what we occupy and how we occupy it. There are other places besides Wall Street that need to be occupied. Such as, our own creativity. That is one of the things you give up when you acquiesce to being just a consumer. You give up being able to create your world, and you settle for buying someone else's version. You give up your power and your imagination and your love, in return for a certain kind of validation and safety, maybe a certain kind of anesthesia. But when you're a producer, you need all of your power, all of your imagination, all of your love, because you are responsible for the process of creating. When you are a producer, you have to occupy your own creativity. You have to hold your own center. And that's where your dignity comes from.

The factory workers in Argentina demanded the right to be producers. They occupied the means of production, and they resisted any force that tried to take that away from them. What can we learn from them? The hollow shell that is our profession actually has tremendous potential. The parts of it that don't have any value for anyone else have value for us. This is our chance.

It has been hard for the acupuncture profession to define itself or to brand itself because, as I mentioned earlier, it's hard to sell acupuncture. The other day one of my patients was telling me about how she had learned about community acupuncture. A group of her friends was talking about acupuncture, they had all had it, and one of them was describing community acupuncture. One of her other friends said he would never want to be in a room with other people getting treated. My patient was laughing and saying that she wishes she could tell him that the thing about community acupuncture is that it's not like being in a room with other people, because actually, you're not there yourself. I thought that was funny, but it's also a good description of one of the paradoxes of an acupuncture treatment: it both returns you to your center, but it's also this incredibly charged, empty space. That charged empty space is what we have all been building our clinics and our clinic communities around, and it works great for that. But a charged empty space is not the easiest thing to market.

So what has happened, in the process of branding, is that acupuncture has been used as a kind of decorative adjunct to things that are more familiar, like the education industry, or the beauty industry. There's a lot of weird, problematic overlap between the beauty industry and the so-called alternative medicine industry in general, and the overlap happens because of how the money flows. But it's no good when you start confusing health with beauty, or health with knowledge.

One of the things that happens to you as a community acupuncturist is that you end up spending a lot of time with people who are in very challenging circumstances, both with respect to their health and respect to everything else. Many of our patients with chronic conditions end up having to redefine what health is for themselves, and that definition is not something that is going to reconcile with the beauty industry's definition or the education industry's definition. The World Health Organization defines health as physical, mental and social wellbeing – and wellbeing can look a lot of different ways for a lot of different people. Health isn't about a number on a blood test or a number on a scale; it isn't about what you look like or whether you can meet somebody else's standards of physical or mental prowess. I would say, watching a lot of very brave, very gracious patients, that health is basically about your ability to love, to be connected to the people and the things that you want to be connected to, to live your own life in a way that is satisfying to you.

One of the main things people get out of acupuncture is a sense of wellbeing – we hear that all the time, and we hear it from people in all kinds of circumstances, including people who are dying. One of the things I love about POCA is that it includes patients, and that reflects the reality that patients are the ones who produce and create their own health. They not passive consumers, they are active producers, and they produce a marvelous diversity of wellbeing. That's why it's such a great thing to listen to them describe what acupuncture does for them – because the answers are all different just like their lives are all different. When we listen to their answers, we affirm their creativity. Since we don't know how acupuncture works, we affirm the mystery.

I'm going to go out on a limb here and suggest that acupuncture is never going to be a big commercial success in the way that a lot of people hoped. They hoped, and so they tried to make it part of the beauty industry, and they tried to make it part of the education industry. I'm going to suggest that the purpose of acupuncture is not to make money, it's to make people well, however they define well. And so, to the people who have been using it as a decorative adjunct to the beauty industry and to the education industry, I'd like to suggest that it's not going to work for you in that way. And so would you please stop waving it around as a marketing gimmick, because we would like to actually use it.

If we are going to use it, we need to occupy, resist, and produce.

We need to occupy our own profession.

We're going to spend a lot more time this morning talking about the details of what that means. Don't worry, it doesn't mean that we have to do a sit-in at the ACAOM offices. That might be interesting, of course, but it's not the point. The point is that we need to look at the business of acupuncture and make it belong to us, and to our patients. We need to look at all of the structures that make the profession what it is and figure out how we can use them to make acupuncture genuinely accessible to people of ordinary incomes – and if we can't figure out how to do that, we need to figure out how to build our own structures. A cooperative makes that possible.

We need to resist consumerism. This can be harder than it sounds, because consumerism is often like a trance. You don't always realize when you're walking around entranced, as most acupuncturists are. Waking up is an ongoing process. I think we need to understand that we have been conditioned to be consumers, and that our default setting in how we approach most things is as consumers. Our default setting is passive rather than active, uncreative rather than creative; it takes some effort to shift that.

A lot of us find this out in our practices when we realize how active, creative and engaged we need to be in order to be successful; it's a shock. On some level we all thought that if we did what we were told to do, if we just hung up a shingle in the right place, patients would walk through our doors. We thought we could consume our practices rather than create them, and it's a painful wake-up call to find out it doesn't work that way. You have to give all of yourself, and you have to do that first; you can't wait to commit until you're sure that it's safe and patients will love you. You have to love first.

This also applies to POCA. Ask not what your co-op can do for you; ask what you can do for your co-op. A cooperative is pretty much the antithesis of consumerism. But plenty of co-ops have failed because their members have approached them with a consumer mentality, waiting for the co-op to give them what they want before they put anything of themselves into the co-op. I really believe that POCA has the potential to utterly transform our profession and to create a kind of collective security for all of us. Paradoxically of course, that isn't going to happen unless we collectively take the risk of investing ourselves and our resources first. If we hang back until we're sure it's safe, nothing good is going to happen here.

The recovered companies movement has been going on for a decade now, but it's not that easy to find English-language updates. I did find one translation of an Argentine research study from 2009 that said, looking at how the recovered companies were doing, a lot of them struggled with self-management. It's hard having that much responsibility, and it's hard to work together. Some of the self-managed companies struggled even more because the people who had marketable skills often left to work somewhere easier, somewhere they could just get a paycheck and sit back. And sometimes these were the people who had the management skills or the technical skills, which meant the co-ops were left without those things. The people who stayed in the recovered companies, in the self-managing co-ops, were generally the ones who had nowhere else to go. Who had no other way to make a living. And so they had to make their co-ops work.

I think that will be true of us. Community acupuncture is enormously demanding, all by itself. To build a new economic foundation for it by means of a cooperative is only for those of us who have nowhere else to go. Or who don't want to go anywhere else. It's for those of us who are desperate, or desperately in love with it and with our patients.

The primary thing that we need to produce, with POCA, is a new society for ourselves. Consumerism is isolating, and conventional acupuncture culture is especially isolating. One of the purposes of POCA is to give us a structure to really relate to each other – both socially and economically. But it's not there for us just to walk into; we need to build it.

Everything you'll hear this weekend is basically about how to be better producers within the context of a clinic – how to produce better clinical outcomes, how to produce more treatments by being more efficient in different ways, how to produce opportunities for patients to volunteer for the movement. And there are a lot of details involved, there's a lot to take in. But I hope as you move through all the break out sessions and the presentations, you'll keep the big picture in the back of your mind. Our profession, the acupuncture profession, is basically standing empty and idle. It's not doing what it could be doing for society, it's not doing what people need it to do, whether they are patients and practitioners. We can change that. We need to change that. We need to occupy, resist, produce.

This story was posted on October 15 2011 by Lisafer.

Comments

  • October 16 2011 at 12:07 PM
    acupunkgirl writes:

    The Toaster Project

    Lisa says:  “And I
    hate to suggest that the people involved in the acupuncture
    establishment are anything less than scrupulous, but don’t you think
    it’s odd that they are not worried about the failure rates in the
    profession? Don’t you think it’s strange that we – this community
    —have emerged as a kind of collective professional gadfly, that we
    are always the ones bringing up the issue of sustainability?”

    I’m not sure if there were responses to the Toaster Project that didn’t get published on the CAN website, but here (and until corrected) I am going to assume that all the responses to this challenge were in fact made public.

    The extremely low response rate to the questionnaires sent out directly to these folks who are leaders in the profession by their offices at acu schools, tells me that they are not willing to address this topic of the sustainability of the profession.  

    All the questions are relevant, but this one is the one I’d like to see answered by all the folks who were on that list of recipients:

     

    5)
    The availability of jobs for acupuncturists is a pressing concern
    because students are now graduating with so much Title IV debt that it
    is impossible for many of them to start their own businesses, which
    means more and more graduates are never able to practice acupuncture at
    all. What do you think is the solution to this problem? And who is
    responsible for addressing it? 

     

      0 likes
  • October 16 2011 at 7:55 PM
    ewolfk writes:

    Response rate

    I hope that CAN2 was a resounding success.

    I’d like to offer that the low rate of response to the Toaster Project has a few possible explanations.  Of course, one is that folks just don’t give a shit and aren’t concerned about the failure rate.  Another is that some of the folks asked may have very little awareness of CAN and who they are and what they are about.  For this group, a questionaire out-of-the-blue may not have made it to the to-do list, especially as thoughtful answers to these questions take time, and, a good number of these folks are busy doing the things that got them on your list.  The less than benign tone of some of the questions may have also been off-putting.  Then, there is the group of people who know something of CAN and may have been disinclined to put themselves in the firing line.  And finally there is the group of folks who know about CAN and had the time and willingness and cahones to step up.   As someone whose life has been greatly improved by CAN, I was willing to ignore my fear that what I wrote would be lambasted as the clueless work of an elitist pig, but some of the other folks on your list may not have been so willing.  So, I’m just sayin’, there may be more to it than the leaders weren’t willing to address the issue of sustainability.  It may be that they weren’t willing or able to do it in this time and this place.

    I noticed the thoughts in the keynote about asking what you can do for POCA, not what POCA can do for you.  As someone who has been involved in some of the “establishment” orgs,  this was one of my constant refrains.  I have no doubt that CANners/POCAers will answer the call, and that shows that this group of people is something special.  The attitude of what can you, org., do for me, has been one of the struggles of the greater community for some time.

    It seems to me that many of the first-wave of professional leaders lived (and still do) in a world in which many acu-grads were able to be successful.  We owed less and there were a lot of opportunities.  It seems crazy that it took CAN to make clear to me just how big the problem was out there, for folks going to school now, but I don’t think it is strange or odd.  Who else can make a difference but folks with vision, skills, motivation, talent?

     

      0 likes
  • October 17 2011 at 12:13 AM
    Thomas H. writes:

    Who said this was going to be easy?

    I’m an acupuncture student (with two years remaining) and a volunteer at We the People here in Santa Fe.  It’s difficult not to be cynical about the entire education machine and not be scared about our futures as practitioners when we have a such a debt burden that weights our chest as an incubus nightmare.  I was aware of the stats of failing acupuncurists before I started school two years ago but it didn’t disuade me from this path.  Am I foolish, optimistic…foolish?  I knew that there were no jobs waiting for me or my collegues when we graduated.  If I was to be an ancupuncurist then I was going to have to start my own practice.  I was then and am still excited by the prospect of being responsible for my own sustainability and in the process able to provide affordable care for everyone in my community.  I didn’t know how I was going to do this but I was optomistic.  Our school clinics offer affordable care to the community, but it is not sustainable without the support of our tuition dollars.  This paints an unrealistic picture for us student interns.  We are not in a Chinese teaching hospital where hundreds of patients fill the hallways for daily treatments.  I feel we’re being trained to practice concierge medicine, seeing two patients in three hours!  I’m  encouraged by the CA model for its voluminous community outreach, and the network of CA clinics and enthusiastic punks online—especially in this forum.  Now despite the debt load and the frustrations with institutionalized education I’m excited for my future, the evolution of this medicine and my growing envolvment in this cooperative.  I can’t believe how much CA has grown in five years! 

    Medicine is about servicing community isn’t it?  It’s humility; it’s recognzing the Way and not obstructing its flow.  This is not a nine to five job.  It’s going to be difficult and frustrating at times.  But I don’t think we would have become acupuncturists if we knew it was going to be easy.  

      0 likes
  • October 17 2011 at 1:33 AM
    maceywebb writes:

    Much love

    and thanks especially to Maria Mercedes Dacunda, host sister in Argentina, for sharing the tragic history of abandonment and lack of response of the Argentine gov’tal authorities to the needs of the people.  Linking a song which always runs through my mind when older patients come in because they are fully in care of their children and have little place else to turn for empowerment and care.  Q demos paz y espacio a las personas sufriendo en vano, si logran encontrarse con nosotros.

    “Mi viejo” por Piero.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=37fzTttmc7o

      0 likes
  • October 17 2011 at 7:13 PM
    Steven Stumpf writes:

    “don’t you think
    it’s odd

    “don’t you think
    it’s odd that [the acu establishment orgs] are not worried about the failure rates in the
    profession?”

    I find it VERY ODD that “the profession” has never funded or sponsored a workforce survey (even if it was voluntary under pressure). As though the constant “rumors” of half the LAcs leaving the profession within 5 years wouldn’t alarm the keepers of the kingdom.

    “There really are a lot of elements in
    the acupuncture profession that resemble multi-level marketing ..acupuncture itself is poorly suited to this kind of multi
    level marketing”

    Aha! Here is why the alarm has been and remains ignored. Acupuncture is NOT a profession. It is a ploy for the operators to rake in $$. It is an MLM scam. And you are right about how ill-suited acu is to raking in $$. The acu pot just isn’t that big.

    “The truth is, healing doesn’t look like
    much, and being a healer isn’t glamorous. It’s lots of things, but
    glamorous isn’t one of them. I think those of us who really get into
    being acupuncturists, who treat lots of people over the long haul, do
    it because we know that it benefits us to cultivate that kind
    of discipline and patience and selflessness. It makes us better
    people, and we need to be better people. We stay in this job because
    we’re the ones who need to be transformed.”

    You are sounding like one of the hundreds of thousands physicians, nurses and PAs who went into medicine because it was a calling for them. The “protectors of the faith” like to demonize “western medicine” or “placebo research”. This is a red herring meant to keep the keepers of the kingdom out of the spotlight so they cannot be held accountable for the scam that was created on their watch. Of course, the other point is who really wants to bother holding anybody accountable.

    “Right now, we are most likely experiencing
    a bubble.”

    The bubble has burst. The MLM pyramid is crumbling right now. Where is the discussion among the dwellers? Thanks for keeping the discussion alive, Lisa. It is 2011 and I am repeating things I said in 2008. This time there is a new LAc audience, at least folks I do not recognize. Still, within “the profession” there is little action.

    Recently, I have written how CAN/POCA are no longer outsiders even though I used this descriptor in the past for CAN. The POCA model presents a viable choice for new grads about how to turn their training into a living wage. Forget the stuff about being a “healer”. The worker model is much more helpful. Of course, as you point out, this means giving up the “mystery” and conceit.

    I always enjoy when you pull your thoughts together like this. You make me think. Lately, I have  been thinking more about what acupuncture is in terms of therapeutic value. I was a psychotherapist in private practice for 17 years. I consulted with a psychiatrist for 3 years when I started treating patients. I do not think a LAc working in an acu community clinic needs MD supervision. However, I believe an LAc working in a community medical clinic would benefit from having MD supervision along with interacting with other healthcare professionals. But that is not CA. When I left the counseling profession I thought about my approach to head shrinking. It was pretty simple. I wasn’t putting patients in a psych hospital. But if I thought one needed such I had the right people to check with. I think it is fairly obvious acu is also simple especially when applied in a populist manner. I preferred doing group therapy to individual. it just made more sense and I observed better results. And it paid better for the work I was doing til 9:00 PM Mon thru Thurs.

    Thanks for editing the spacing on my post. I look forward to the success of POCA.

      0 likes
  • October 18 2011 at 10:26 PM
    Guest writes:

    Lisa’s talk

    Lisa,  you are brilliant.  I want to cry for the relief I feel, reading your words, that someone is making so much sense.  Like a drink of cool water to my parched spirit.  Thank you.

      0 likes

Add your 2 cents!

You must be logged in to comment on the blog.


Who Likes This:

  • estermarie

Featured Events

-- placeholder --

Who's been POCAing lately.

  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'New POCA Tech FAQs' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, March 13, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Fatphobia Part 3: Some Thoughts about Diet Culture and Talking to Patients' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, March 13, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'The Acupuncture Profession has 99 problems, but NADA ain’t one of them.' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, March 12, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Two: Trouble' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, March 11, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Too Sexy for This Work?' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, March 11, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 20, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Stone Soup and Social Containers' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 13, 2019
  • Nityamo commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 13, 2019
  • weedyknees commented on the blog post 'Stone Soup and Social Containers' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 13, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Stone Soup and Social Containers' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, February 06, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Too Sexy for This Work?' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, February 05, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Too Sexy for This Work?' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, February 04, 2019
  • monkeyacupunk commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Too Sexy for This Work?' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 31, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, January 29, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 24, 2019
  • Spartacus commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 24, 2019
  • mollyfread commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 24, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture: Part Four, Stamina' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'POCA Clinic Member Changes' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 23, 2019
  • NicoleManiez commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, January 22, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 17, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 17, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'The Acupuncture Profession has 99 problems, but NADA ain’t one of them.' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 17, 2019
  • Moses.C commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 14, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture: Part Four, Stamina' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 14, 2019
  • teatree commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Sunday, January 13, 2019
  • Presence_CA commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs: Poor People's Priorities' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Saturday, January 12, 2019
  • CPMike commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture: Part Four, Stamina' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 10, 2019
  • ChrisRogers commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 10, 2019
  • whitney commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 09, 2019
  • keithananda commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture: Part Four, Stamina' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, January 09, 2019
  • ellengrover commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, January 08, 2019
  • tatyana commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, January 08, 2019
  • Moses.C commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 07, 2019
  • Jess B commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 07, 2019
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, January 07, 2019
  • Justine commented on the blog post 'Public Service Announcement: POCA and Ear Acupuncture!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, January 03, 2019
  • sivesind commented on the blog post 'Public Service Announcement: POCA and Ear Acupuncture!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Sunday, December 30, 2018
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, December 28, 2018
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Here's to Open Sourcing: Modern Acupuncture, Part One' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, December 28, 2018
  • keithananda commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, December 27, 2018
  • keithananda commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, December 27, 2018
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, December 26, 2018
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'The Acupuncture Profession has 99 problems, but NADA ain’t one of them.' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, December 25, 2018
  • crismonteiro commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Three: Hope' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, December 25, 2018
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Two: Trouble' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, December 24, 2018
  • Spartacus commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Two: Trouble' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Sunday, December 23, 2018