10,000 Thanks to POCA from POCA Tech (and a Word about Nerds)

To everyone who contributed to the May Membership Drive, thank you. 10,000 times thank you. In so many ways, this is a huge deal to POCA Tech.

Just 4 years ago, I was basically banging my head against a series of walls, trying to convince somebody outside of POCA — some institution — to make an affordable acupuncture program for us. At the time it seemed unfathomable that POCA could actually make its own acupuncture school. How would we ever come up with the money? How would we get through all of the red tape? Doesn’t building an acupuncture school from scratch demand resources that POCA just doesn’t have?

Nope. As it turns out, POCA’s actually great at this!

First, let’s look at fundraising. This is something that other acupuncture schools are historically terrible at. Remember when we first launched the school? We guessed that we needed to raise about $125K to get it off the ground. That seemed like a sky-high goal, given POCA’s modest financial resources.

Between June 2012 and August 2014, POCA Tech raised over $85,000. Between August 2014 and August 2015, counting the $10,000 donation from POCA for this Membership Drive, we’re on track to raise $46,000.  So we did it! We passed our original goal!  Quite a lot of the total came from $5 and $10 donations, either one time or recurring.

There are a bunch of expenses related to accreditation that we didn’t know about at the time we set that goal — such as needing to have 3-6 months of operating expenses in the bank — so we’re not done, but it all looks much more doable now than it ever has.  It’s a big challenge, keeping the cost of tuition proportional to what an acupuncturist can expect to earn in the first year or two out of school.  As far as we know, nobody else is even trying. Fundraising is crucial, given all the expensive hoops we have to jump through. So it’s a great thing that we turned out to be so good at it.

But there’s another factor that is helping us with all the expensive hoops, and that’s…

Nerds. POCA is truly rich in nerds.  I kind of think we should have a tagline that says, “We are POCA, and we have a nerd for that. No matter what it is.”

I’m not going to even try to make a comprehensive tally of all the POCA members who have helped POCA Tech by happily nerding out on a particular problem until they came up with a solution. There are just too many, and I don’t want to forget anybody. But even though it’s an incomplete list, I want to say that POCA Tech would not exist, let alone be able to get accredited, without:

the governance nerds (AKA everybody who has served on a POCA Circle)

According to the ACAOM workshop that Robert attended, a lot of schools struggle with ACAOM’s governance requirements (Boards, committees, bylaws, etc) but we, on the other hand, are doing pretty well. That’s because they don’t have governance nerds, and we do. If you can organize and run an international multi-stakeholder co-op with a dedicated (OK, maniacal) crew of nerdy volunteers, you can organize and run an acupuncture school.

the curriculum nerds

Especially the ones who came to POCA Tech’s rescue in February of 2014 when the Oregon Dept of Education told us we needed 3 years of syllabi in order to get our state license. Your work is STILL paying off as we work through the ACAOM requirements.

the nerds who contribute to POCA’s online CEUs

These both raise money for the co-op and have given us valuable practice in setting up courses online, which is a skill we think we’re going to need once ACAOM approves some form of distance education. (Cross your fingers.)

the library nerds

Who make books appear out of thin air.

the survey nerds

This includes all the nerdy clinic owners who have all of their annual stats ready to go the minute we ask for them. It turns out that a crucial aspect of accreditation is what they call assessment: the idea that you can measure what you’re doing and then make adjustments accordingly. Well, you could say that POCA has already assessed the outcomes of conventional acupuncture education, and decided we needed something different. But how can we prove that we can assess POCA Tech’s effectiveness? We’ve been running the survey and nerding out on the results for years, that’s how.

the finance nerds

Who painstakingly tinker with POCA and POCA Tech’s budgets. Because that’s their idea of a good time.

So far we have only one OSHA nerd, who is obsessing away at POCA Tech’s OSHA manual, but since OSHA nerds are truly rare, one is a LOT.

And finally, the Membership Drive nerds. On behalf of POCA Tech, I’d like to give special thanks to Gururas and NamJoti, who organized the materials for the Membership Drive; all 43 clinics that participated in the Drive, particularly the top 4 clinics that added members — Circle  (49! Shout out to front desk genius coordinator Jennifer “Princess Pei Pei” Huang!), MAS (23), Sarana and BAP (22 each); the volunteers who helped call clinics to ask them to participate — 43 clinics involved in the Drive is fabulous;

and thank goodness for the nerds of the Welcome Wagon, who will be calling all 361 new members in June to welcome them.

Really what you Membership nerds are is co-op nerds, and I love co-op nerds because come on, what’s more fascinating than a co-op? (OK, I admit it, I’m a co-op nerd too. ) It wasn’t THAT long ago that lots of people said they didn’t think POCA would ever have patient members, because why would they want to join? Membership is an issue for almost all co-ops, it comes with the territory, but when we first floated the idea of a multi-stakeholder cooperative we were met with disbelief. Those of you who have successfully figured out how to keep our membership stable and steadily growing via the Membership Drives and the Welcome Wagon, those of you who improve our practices every time we run a Drive, you have proven that whenever the world throws POCA a problem, POCA has enough nerds to figure out a solution.

And finally, a huge thank you to Mary Margaret, whose daily updates in the forums on the Membership Drive numbers allow us to COLLECTIVELY nerd out at an entirely new level.

I love you all from the bottom of my nerdy heart.

Author: lisafer

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