Why Acupuncture was NOT a Career Mistake

'Do you ever question that you’ve made a huge-little mistake by becoming an Acupuncturist?'

Do you ever question your choice to become an Acupuncturist? Are you still in school with your debt mounting while your interest is waning? Do you feel like you’ve hit a wall in the growth of your practice? Have your results from Dr. ______’s system been underwhelming in spite of what everyone in the Facebook group says? Do you worry that your student loans will never get paid off? Are Physical Therapists and Chiropractors in your community marketing Dry Needling as superior to Acupuncture? 

'I believe this is the right field for the right people.'

We are all aware of the estimations of successful Acupuncture school graduates. I have seen the percentage of non-practicing Acupuncturists after 5 years range from 35 to 90%. There’s no question of the challenges associated with the practice and profession of Acupuncture, however, I believe this is the right field for the right people. An ideal livelihood may seem far fetched for those of us in the field still struggling with student loans, lackluster results, small patient loads and confusion about the history, style & techniques. Yet when we conceptualize, approach and practice from the right mindset, a career in Acupuncture can provide us with opportunities and lifestyles that some people only dream about.

'If you believe Business and Science are viewed as oppressive, you are looking through the wrong lens.'

There seems to be tension for many of us between a successful practice and successful practice. It is common to feel that financial success and clinical success are mutually opposed. Until we’re shown that they can be compatible, we will continue to struggle. The same phenomena is at play in the tension between Chinese Medicine and Western Science. That same false belief holds people back from deepening their practices when they could be making connections between the two.

Despite all of these challenges and obstacles, it is certain you made a great career choice… Here’s why:

1. This is work that you can do until you drop dead. Much of the work that we do is best interpreted through the lens of Longevity, Anti-Aging, and Exercise Science. Domains that have depth of history in discovery improve our understanding of human health in very pragmatic ways. If we practice what we preach we can remain active, energetic and healthy far into the game. By that time your frustrations, questioning and sticking with this practice will have paid off and you’ll be pretty good at what you do.

2. This work is an art-skill and like any skill, it takes time to reach proficiency. If you’re reading this, odds are you are either a student or have been practicing for less than 10 years. Let’s face it after 15, 20, 30 years of practice you don’t give a f*ck what people say on the internet. You’re likely fresh meat. Give it some time.

3. If considered in the right lens, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine provide an endless list of hypotheses, theories and ideas to be tested and evaluated in so many different contexts. Contexts that offer a more naturalistic and holistic view of nature that when combined with Scientific rigor, can contribute to solving some of our biggest challenges as a species.

'It is our belief that the right lens is through the science of Hormetics, a universal biological principle that applies to every level of life, from the cellular to the organismal level.'

4. People on social media do not accurately represent their practices, skill sets and results. You cannot let that affect you, dismay you or defeat you.

'The feeling of having made a mistake by choosing this profession happens to most if not all of us. It can be challenging and causes many of us to drop out of the profession.' 

5. Practicing acupuncture is simultaneously a glimpse into the past and a peek into the future of medicine. The whole goal of APSE is to strip the roadblocks built by preconceived notions and defensive thinking between the practice of Acupuncture and the basic sciences. For example, contemporary medicine practices are primarily based on the Biomedical model of disease and illness. In the case of Chronic Pain, it turns into a search for the one structural abnormality such as a frayed ligament or degenerated disc that when ‘fixed’, resolves the problem. However, when we consider a Biopsychosocial Model of pain and disease, our detective work turns into a survey of an ecosystem rather than a search for needle in a haystack, it includes the search but contains more. This is the promise of Chinese Medicine, the original Biopsychosocial Model of health. In this way we can look to CM as a guide to refining the medical paradigm and (if you’re on board) has the potential to be an endlessly fascinating journey.


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