“I work at a Big Damn clinic, it’s awesome. The front desk staff is dedicated to the clinic. The patients come in to see the great women who run the front desk as much as they come in to get acupuncture. It’s a supportive environment. We look out for each other and we all want to see each other succeed.
“It means a lot to hear the owner of the clinic where I work explain to the patients ‘the practitioners who work here are not my assistants. They are highly qualified. I am flattered that you only want to get treated by me, but if you pigeon hole yourself into only my schedule then you may not get enough treatments to get benefit.’ This is important for anyone who owns a community clinic. It should be about the place itself and what the clinic offers and not about a particular person and their ‘healing gifts.’
“I like having coworkers. I like having coworkers that I get along with really well. I feel really supported where I work. I am not alone anymore. I always have people to talk to. We are a team. Every other Friday I meet up with one of my co-workers and talk shop and study Tung’s points or Korean 4 points and drink lattes.”
“I get to practice acupuncture without paying rent, buying needles, or worrying about malpractice. New patients just come to me. It’s crazy. I get to treat so many people and it is incredible.
“I also get treated whenever I want - we are open everyday so there’s usually time when I’m not working to get in.
“If you want to learn something you should learn it in a CA environment. That way you’ll do it like a hundred times in a week and actually be able to get ‘ok’ at doing it. And then without thinking you just might get awesome at doing it. Mostly because you get to practice over and over and over again. So got talk problems? Blanket issues, needling wonders, point selection brain farts, inability to deal with some of the overwhelming awkwardness that is organic to the flow. Whatever it is you can focus on it one thing at a time - in the beginning I didn’t get that and was always tripping all over myself trying to get each part just right from the start. Sheesh, I know I’m silly.
“All three of the CA clinic owners that I volunteered and have worked for have been incredibly open and honest about what they do, what they say, how they do it, when they do it, and why. It is the most amazing fucking thing in the world. In the beginning you may not know you’re in the jungle. And it really is a jungle of pain out there. The real perk of my job is that instead of being a needle in a haystack I am a veritable machete to the jungle of pain around me. Nothing ever beats that.”
-Sarah of Philadelphia Community Acupuncture
“The best part for me is you get to treat so many people and help so many people and actually use what you learned in school. Having four acupuncturists here is awesome. Andy knows so much and has taught us so much. One of the biggest perks is his amount of knowledge. Also having people to talk about things with really makes a difference. Everyone has something different to offer.”
-Mary of Manchester Acupuncture Studio
“I am grateful that I don’t do every part of the business. Mostly I can be a punk and focus my energy there. I consistently show up ready to go to work and help a large group of people feel a little better than before.
“With a mission of providing accessible acupuncture care to all working people, community acupuncture gives me the opportunity to learn how to be mentally available and welcoming to people from all ethnicities, gender identities, ages, and classes.
“I work as a community acupuncturist—-I do work I love—- and I can afford to pay my bills. In some moments, I have had trouble making ends meet—but that’s my choice. It’s a pretty rare opportunity to be able to do this work at all here in the western world and I am grateful that I happened be in the right place at the right time to start out doing community acupuncture.
“Another perk of being an employee is that I get to share the work load, without the responsibility of wearing all of the hats all of the time. I do my share of the daily tasks that it takes to keep a busy acupuncture clinic running smoothly.
“Another perk of working where I work is that there are multiple acupunks working around me. Just being in the same space as other punks can help me feel like I can ask for help when I need it. We are all very busy at the clinic and busy in our personal lives, yet there is still an overall feeling that we have each other’s backs. There is also an unsaid sense of recognition between punks about the energy it takes to be available to large groups of patients over the long term. In fleeting moments here and there I catch a glance or give a glance that says ‘I know what you are putting out there to just do your job.’ That unsaid support helps keep me going. As the direct income earners for the business that pays our salaries, we all feel pressure to perform. Pressure to see a large number of patients year in and year out. No one really talks shop all that much (acupuncture points and such). At the same time, unpinning your coworkers’ patients shows glimpses into how other punks approach certain issues. Sometimes there are clear questions that we bring up with each other, though mostly we are just participating in the same process and being seen making it happen day to day. It’s a unique work community.
“The support network of POCA and originally CAN is another obvious perk and lifesaver in so many ways. People that do this clinical work are changed in ways that are hard to articulate. It’s a blessing to have so many people to check in with from the larger community acupuncture community when you need to reach out.”
-Moses of Working Class Acupuncture
What It’s Like to be an Employee Punk
Part 5 The Cons