“Before we were assigned modules, or non-needling job responsibilities, I would leave work feeling like I hadn’t done enough. I used to own a clinic and would feel totally overwhelmed. So to just walk out after a shift did not feel right to me. I often wondered, am I contributing enough? Am I pulling my weight?
“It’s easy to get depressed when numbers are down. A stressful thing about community acupuncture is learning how to not attach your self-esteem to your numbers. After my first few months at the clinic where I currently work, my numbers took a dive. I felt discouraged about it.
It could have been because I was the new punk. It could have also been because I was carrying baggage from my previous clinic. We also had a very hard winter and had to shut down the clinic several times and that did not help. During this time, my boss made a difficult decision to cut my hours. I went from 5 shifts to 3 shifts for a few months. It sucked but my employer and my co-workers were very supportive. I had some time to decompress from the bad experience of my previous clinic. The front desk staff really looked out for me and after a few months I was back to full time.”
“When you’re not busy you feel guilty. You don’t ever want to be not busy. No matter what the reason. You’re paying me to see six an hour. Not two and a volunteer. Six. That’s a big part of internal happiness, understanding that you will get there. You just don’t start at 75 a week. You want to be there even though you’re not there yet. But it turns out to be ok.
“I have set a schedule and I am a traveler. Going away is really hard on my boss and me. I had an emergency once, my best friend’s husband died. I had to go to the funeral in Cali…Then I returned to empty shifts, because I had left, because I was so sad. It took 4 days out, then at least a week or two to recover.”
-Sarah of Philadelphia Community Acupuncture
“Not much, I think it’s definitely difficult being an employee sometimes. Especially when I’ve been there so long. Sometimes when the boss makes decisions he doesn’t always talk to us. You’re not always in control, which is kind of my favorite thing about the job. But it’s difficult to just go with it all the time. I don’t mind seeing so many people. I think the hardest part especially starting out is putting your ego aside. With four punks there are sometimes patients that are definitely Someone-only, you have to put ego aside and stop asking why didn’t they like me.”
-Mary of Manchester Acupuncture Studio
“That part about barely paying the bills catches up with you here and there. You just make a living and pay debt if you have any (and every acupunk I know so far has debt to pay down). It seems like you have to have investments and/ or very slowly pay off your debts if you want to make more than just a living. It’s a personal choice to chase what feels good instead of what pays more.
“Sometimes the intensity of personal life situations can drain your energy. In these moments, normal clinical activities, like the energy it takes to connect with large groups of patients on a daily basis, can feel more draining than usual. I notice that we all go through cycles of managing personal issues on top of treating patients in the clinic over the years. For example, I have been renovating my fixer home (mostly on my own due to cost and thankfully having the skills to do most of the work) for the past two years. I can only give so much energy each day and my patient numbers reflect that when I am unusually busy in my personal life. Physical and emotional exhaustion for whatever personal reasons make community acupuncture or any other employment unusually tiring at times. This includes moments like buying a house, moving, or managing personal relationships. I have been recharging for a long while from various energy drains and my energy is finally coming back in a more stable way. My current patient numbers in the clinic reflect the health of my overall energy these days.”
-Moses of Working Class Acupuncture
What It’s Like to be an Employee Punk
Part 6 Advice for new or aspiring punks