Community Unity: Being “A Part Of” Rather than “Apart From”

One of the best parts about being a community acupuncturist
is in being a part of CAN.

Being a CAN member has, essentially, given me my career and
my livelihood, and has allowed me to give thousands of treatments to a
wonderfully diverse group of patients in just a year and a half.It has given me gifts I could never
have imagined had I not been exposed to all the ideas and experiences shared by
other members.I write this blog
so those who haven’t yet joined may learn more about what they will gain by
joining CAN, and to express my gratitude and thanks to all those members who
have helped me along the way.

Back at this time in 2007 I was in my last year at NESA, 6
months away from graduating.I was
planning on leaving the Boston area and going back to Connecticut where I grew
up, because I thought the market for acupuncture in Boston was fairly saturated
and there were few acupuncturists in Connecticut, so it would be easier to make
a living there.I also had no
knowledge of community acupuncture at the time and I was certainly not creative
enough to ever think about treating people in a group setting with a sliding
scale on my own.

Everything changed when I heard a fellow CAN member and acupuncturist
come to speak at school and when, shortly thereafter, I joined CAN.Once I entered the world of CAN I was
blown away by the possibilities that seemed to lie ahead for me, all the
information provided, advice given, questions answered and ideas shared.I had access to member forums, with
information containing experiences and opinions on everything from what size
space to rent and what types of chairs to get to how to treat low back pain and
shoulder pain in a recliner chair to what methods of marketing are most
effective and inexpensive.There was no wall of competition and secrecy keeping me from my
colleagues and from learning.I
didn’t have to think of every detail on my own in starting a clinic and was
able to do less learning from mistakes.I realized I could take what I wanted and leave the rest pertaining to
the information provided.I still
check the forums regularly to gather more information and inspiration, and to
help answer questions asked by others.

I believe that if I were to just be working on my own and
not a member of CAN, that I would have a greater tendency toward feelings of
isolation, loneliness, uncertainty, fear, doubt, lack of inspiration and
insecurity, because I wouldn’t have access to the wisdom and experiences shared
by others.Opening my clinic,
trying to figure out how to reach out to the community, invite people in for
treatments and keep them coming is probably the most difficult thing I have
done in my entire life (and this is saying something, because I have faced many
challenges in my life, including such things as majoring in math in college,
racing 7 marathons and many personal struggles, not to mention opening this
clinic – which was the 2nd one I opened in less than 5 months since
things didn’t work out the first time).Trying to communicate effectively with patients about particular health
conditions, how many treatments they may need and answering difficult questions
is hard.Keeping your chin up and
not freaking out when things slow down at the clinic and there are bills to pay
is hard.Staying on top of all of
the details of patient charting, answering phone calls and emails, working on
marketing projects, keeping the clinic clean and tracking all my transactions
on Quickbooks is hard.Doing all of
these things while doing the best I can at being kind, compassionate,
energetic, understanding, warm and friendly to every patient who walks through
the door and giving them the treatments I believe will be most effective
everyday is hard, but always worth it, because being with my patients is not
only heartwarming and rewarding for me, but a gift for them, too.My patients tell me all the time how
glad they are that they found my clinic, that I am here offering them care that
is affordable and effective, that the space is beautiful and that they have a
place to go where they can relax.When I get this kind of feedback I know I am doing something meaningful
and I feel like I am truly an important part of my community.I also feel good knowing that I have
colleagues who can help me when I am facing difficulties of any sort, when I
need more information in order to make a decision or to improve the services I
offer for my patients.

Once you become a CAN member you can use your benefits as
much or as little as you’d like.Some people get so busy so fast and are doing so well that they hardly
ever check in on the forums, but they still benefit from having information to
go to when they need it and, if they have a community acupuncture clinic which
follows the Locate a Clinic requirements, they can list their clinic on
CAN.I have had dozens of patients
find my clinic because they saw it listed on the CAN Locate a Clinic page, and
because they or someone they know had been treated at another CAN clinic.This is also a wonderful connection; it
is always truly delightful when a new patient walks in who found out about my
clinic through CAN.

If you participate in the CAN forums regularly, you may be
invited to write blogs as I am doing now and have done for the last year and a
half.You might also eventually be
nominated for and voted in as a CAN board member.CAN board members do a lot of the “behind the scenes” work
that keeps CAN going, organizing community acupuncture trainings, offering you
membership perks and improving our profession and acupuncture access nationally
and across the globe.I’ve
recently become a CAN board member and it feels really great to help out and
give back after receiving so much from CAN, and to have a say in how CAN
operates.Although it is
essentially work on top of my regular work, it is also a lot of fun.It is fun to get to know other
acupuncturists who I probably would never have met, nevermind communicate with
regularly, due to our geographic distances, and we are an enthusiastic and
diverse lot when it comes to personalities and opinions.This makes it all the better, though,
because it means that the profession has a chance to move ahead, you have more
opportunities to learn and to be a part of something bigger and all of our
patients, and our future patients, can reap the benefits of our community’s

Thank you to everyoen who is a member of CAN; for all your help, inspiration, energy, participation and friendship.  To those of you who aren’t members: I hope I get to communicate with you, connect with you, learn from you and help you one day, too.

Author: Justine_Myers

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  1. Hear Hear!

    “One of the best parts about being a community acupuncturist
    is in being a part of CAN.”


    Soooo true!  We just hosted the WCA workshop this past weekend and I am still riding the high off all the CAN love.  Thanks, Justine, for so clearly articulating the benefits of being a member.


    Best membership fee I’ve ever paid!!!


    Julia in Berkeley


  2. I agree!

    Joining CAN has been the single most important decision I’ve made in my acupuncture career.  It opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me.  As soon as I joined, “Community Acupuncture” went from something that sounded interesting to something that sounded totally doable, absolutely rewarding, and fun!  I consider all of you my friends and compatriots now, even though I’ve never met most of you (I hope that changes soon!).  Thank you CAN, and thank you Justine for another beautiful blog!

    Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane. -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.