It’s a Wonderful (Co-op) Life

You know the movie It’s a Wonderful Life? The one where Jimmy Stuart’s guardian angel shows him what the world would be like if he’d never been born?

I had a POCA version of that recently.

I’ve been working on figuring out exactly what POCA Tech costs relative to other acupuncture programs ( is it one-half? one-fifth?) so I was cruising around looking at other school websites, when I came across one that made me draw my breath in sharply.

Comrades, remember the Battle of the FPD — first professional doctorate, for those of you who weren’t there? CAN (that’s us circa 2009) argued that introducing the FPD was a way of getting rid of the Master’s degree and making acupuncture education more expensive. Lots of people said no, that’s silly, you’re overreacting.

Take a look at this.

This is a school that has gotten rid of its Master’s degrees for acupuncture and replaced them with entry level doctoral degrees. As we know, not all acupuncture schools want to or can do this. But this is what it looks like when one does: the ticket to entry into the acupuncture profession becomes $122,740 for tuition alone. According to the school’s website, you can calculate at least another $86,400 for living expenses, because you can’t work while you’re in that kind of program. (Edit: though you could STILL, legit, make the argument that this isn't about the FPD itself, because the Master's degree that I got 23 years ago now costs — tuition alone — $81K if you do it in 3 years, $91K if you do it in 4. Add in living expenses and you're at $146K and $177K respectively.)

Think about what it means, big picture, if entry into the acupuncture profession costs $209K. Think about what that means long term for community acupuncture clinics.

I haven’t got all of the numbers in from POCA Tech’s Cohort 1 about what they spent on co-requisities, but I can tell you that at least some members of Cohort 1 spent less than $20,000 on their total POCA Tech tuition. And everybody worked their way through school, because the program was set up that way.

That’s what it looks like when acupuncture patients get into the business of providing acupuncture education, via the POCA Cooperative.

I’m thinking about these numbers today, at the end of the POCA Membership Drive, which was the first one run by POCA Tech punklings, and while not all the numbers are in yet, it’s clear that they did a fantastic job. Huge thanks to Pete, Cate, and Shelby!

Both running the Membership Drive and setting up POCA Tech itself represent a lot of work by volunteers, a lot of plugging away at small and sometimes not very exciting details. Each of those details alone doesn’t look like a big deal. But all that work taken together looks like the difference between roughly $20K and $200K as the cost of entry into the acupuncture profession.  CAN could have raged at that $200K price tag until the cows came home, and it wouldn’t have made any impact at all; but POCA, as a co-op, could create a point of economic leverage for acupuncture patients by establishing its own school.

Sometimes it’s the boring, bureaucratic details that really pay off in the end.

And I’m writing about this today because POCA’s just launched the beta phase of its most recent important, unglamorous project: the Job Task Analysis. You haven’t been hearing much about this because we got stalled by some technical glitches, but we’re back on track and you’ll be hearing a lot more going forward. The JTA is another area where POCA Tech punklings have been crucial for making things happen. So please flex your finger muscles and get ready to fill out our best survey yet. It's a wonderful life, especially the boring parts.

Author: lisafer

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  1. One of the big arguments at the time was “We’ll let the market decide.” But when there really aren’t other options, “the market” doesn’t have much choice. With POCA Tech, for the right people, there’s a choice. I’m so glad about that.

    (Of course, we must be vigilant. I’m sure it won’t be long before some folks in some states decide the FPD is required for licensure. That’s what happened with herbal credentialing. And I’ll fight tooth and nail not to let that happen again!)

  2. “We’ll let the market decide”, to me, is such a good example of why co-ops are important when you’re living in capitalism. How does an ordinary person become part of the market? The other day I saw a bumper sticker for a food cooperative that said, “I own a grocery store with my friends”. That’s not an easy thing to do but it’s so much better than having no choices other than being a consumer.

    I’m glad you’re up for fighting tooth and nail, Elaine — if that happens, we’re going to need you to.