Community Acupuncture and Investment
We had a fabulous time this past weekend in Nashville attending the POCAfest. It’s a semi-annual affair to allow community acupuncture enthusiasts to come share, reflect and empower the work we do. The meeting is unique for a number of reasons but one major one is that not only do acupuncturists go but so do clinic staff members, family members, potential acupuncture students and patients do too! I would say the most important thing about community acupuncture is that it takes as part of its foundation the concept that everyone involved in the life of a community acupuncture clinic is essential to the life of community acupuncture and can provide more perspective on the entire picture than just a handful of acupuncturists alone.
On our return I was perusing articles in one of the standard acupuncture profession rags and they had a column entitled “Are You Really Invested?” And it turned out to be as disappointing as I imagined it might be. It turned out to be a story encouraging 1) acupuncturists “to get involved in the progress of the development of the International Classification of Traditional Medicine” and 2) donate money to the process.
It brings up one of the chief problems community acupuncture has always felt about the acupuncture profession: that “investment” is seen as developing the towers of the profession’s legitimacy rather than building up the patients and communities that benefit from acupuncture. One of the tenets of community acupuncture is “acupuncture you can access isn’t effective acupuncture.”
Professional development is important–heck, I serve on the state acupuncture association’s board. But our national acupuncture profession has often tunneled in on that as THE goal that will allow acupuncture reach its full potential. How do we make acupuncture seem as mainstream and legitimate as possible? As opposed to the more necessary effort of how do we get people to actually use acupuncture and acupuncturists to be able earn a living doing acupuncture? The cart is waaaaaay before the horse.
Community acupuncture isn’t afraid of developing the profession or working with integrative medicine, but we find that all those concepts tend to be buzz words to help the acupuncture profession feel legitimate in the way the biomedical field already works. And that’s slightly odd because most acupuncturists get into the field because they don’t like the way the biomedical field operates.
Community acupuncture is concerned with investment because that is what drives it: investment from clinic owners and their families, from the acupuncturists who pin people up, investment from patients that come in and find relief and tell friends, families and strangers about it, investment from staff and volunteers that take on various tasks. And that investment spreads and pays dividends over time. Things our clinic does well now and mistakes it has been able to avoid are because of the investment people have made in community acupuncture over the years and continue to make.
Keep that in mind as you come to our clinic or recommend acupuncture to others: if you invest in community acupuncture you are helping out more than just yourself or our clinic.