The basics of hours scheduling and patient numbers
Community Acupuncture clinics rely on high volume to remain sustainable. CA clinics adopt a social business model, meaning that they exist simply to exist, to provide a service to the community, and that any profits are reinvested back into the business. Because of this, acupunks working in a CA setting are committed to seeing lots of patients.
Most CA clinics schedule at least 6 patients per hour; some schedule more. Some schedule extra time for new patients; others don’t. A typical clinic shift is usually 4-5 hours of needling time, plus extra time before and after for prep, charting and cleanup. Each clinic is set up a little differently, but all have the goal of treating a high volume of patients. A “full-time” job at a CA clinic usually starts out at 20-25 hours per week, including needling time, prep and cleanup. Some clinics also offer acupunks the opportunity to take on additional administrative work, allowing punks to earn more money, help out with additional tasks to keep the clinic running smoothly, and be more involved and invested with all of the clinic operations. Each clinic will set different goals for their acupunks, but in general, most full-time punks are expected to be providing about 75-100 treatments a week in order for their jobs to remain sustainable.
“I currently work 5 shifts. I work two 5-hour shifts, two 4-hour shifts, I have a 3-hour shift on Saturday. I do 20 hours of week of needling time. We all chip in with cleaning responsibilities, and I handle most the marketing and outreach for the clinic. I do most of the health fairs and public talks for the clinic.
“The schedule is set to treat 6 patients an hour. We squeeze patients onto the schedule and we take walk-ins, so it’s doable to treat more than 6 patients an hour. I need to treat 80-100 patients a week so my work can pay for my salary.
“We have 24 chairs in two rooms. We primarily work out of one of the rooms, and when two punks are working at a time we’ll have two rooms going. Always have an extra room to be busier. We have a max of 2 punks working a shift for evening shifts.”
“There are 14 or 15 chairs set up. We do overlapping shifts. It does get all filled up sometimes and it’s the most wonderful thing in the entire world. They didn’t teach us that in school. I didn’t know it would be so palpable. So real everyday all the time. Standing in the middle of a room of 14 people, individually transfixed by a feeling that is now amplified 14 times over, so even I can feel it.”
-Sarah of Philadelphia Community Acupuncture
“I have worked at this clinic for 2.5 years. I work 5 shifts a week which ends up being 25 hours of actual needling and some extra stuff on the side. We’re supposed to do about 32 hours.
“When I first started I was doing two shifts. I did that for 3 months, then built to 3 shifts for a month and I was full time after that.”
-Mary of Manchester Acupuncture Studio
“I work 4 shifts a week: a split shift in two increments of three hours, two 5-hour shifts, and one 4-hour shift. Five 4-hour shifts is workable as well, it’s just a matter of balancing what feels right for your stamina in the treatment room with the needs of the clinic as a whole.
“I consistently see around 30 patients a shift and treat around 120 patients each week.”
-Moses of Working Class Acupuncture
What It’s Like to be an Employee Punk
Part 2 Pay