Let’s get to work!

This post is about how the landscape of acupuncture jobs is changing due to the spread of Community Acupuncture and the emergence of CAN. I thought it would be interesting and revealing to ask some acupunturists that are reaping the fruits of this change first-hand to share some of their experiences. This might be one of several posts on this subjest, as I am still waiting to receive more stories from those busy hard-working acupunks.

As we already know from numerous surveys, studies and posts here, there are not many jobs out there for acupuncturists, yet CAN has new job listings for acupuncturists popping up almost every week. Here are some other exciting changes we observed about how community clinics are changing this dismal work situation:

  • some acupuncturists have found enough employment through community acupuncture clinics not to need to open their own clinic
  • some acupuncturists were first employed full-time by a community acupuncture clinic and then went on to open thier own
  • some acupuncturists actually had an offer of a full-time salaried position in a community clinic (and even moved to another city for this job)
  • some acupuncturists are working in several community acupuncture clinics, including their own, while they grow their buisness to support them

All of these are things that are still very rare and unusual as far as the acupuncture job market (what job market?) is concerned, so I think they are worth noting and celebrating here on the front page of CAN. If you have your own “work landscape” story to share, feel free to add it here:

I was offered a job at Tucson Community Acupuncture pretty much as soon as I was able to gather my belongings,move down to Tucson, and get through the licensing process. After getting though school I knew that I wanted to either open my own community clinic or be employed by one and so was actively seeking out these options/opportunities. I felt that I was well prepared for the realities of post-graduation, do largely in part to conversations and input from licensed acupuncturists involved with CAN. I also made it a priority during my time in school to prepare myself to work most effectively in a Community clinic(distal strategies, quicker intakes, simplicity over complexity, etc.). Nine months since starting part time with three, three hour shifts, I have worked myself up to a full time salaried position and have given somewhere in the range of two thousand total treatments. I feel my experience level has jumped by leaps and bounds over this course of time and am grateful for the chance to continue to learn from my patients  how effective acupuncture is, and how I can better assist in that process.  ~Josh, Tuscon Community Acupuncture, Tuscon AZ


I was officially licensed to practice acupuncture at the end of 2007.  I treated a few patients a week out of my home office.  I made most of my living as a massage therapist and made extra money on the side by house and pet sitting.  I knew of community acupuncture only because there was a clinic on the west side of town that offered it.  I thought it was a great idea but I did not know of the Community Acupuncture movement.  I wanted to find an opportunity do something like that.  I met my business partner in March of 2008 and he asked if I would start a CA clinic with him.  I read The Remedy and I was sold.  He found a space that gave us room for 5 chairs and we got started in May June 2008.  Building up seemed slow for me, since my partner already had an acupuncture reputation and a lot of old friends to send referrals.  Despite that,  by January or February of 2009 I was treating 40 patients a week.  Not bad for someone who had only been licensed for a little more than a year.  I had gone to a Working Class Acupuncture training, and my partner introduced me to Dr. Tan's methods. In October of 2009 we signed up to take a Susan Johnson seminar when she came to our city.  Between Skip's Jing Gei video, Miriam Lee's book, and the Dr. Tan handouts from CAN and then Susan's great wisdom, I was able to build some confidence and feel that my treatments were effective. In less than a year I was making a living as a community acupuncturist. I did some massage on the side but no more odd jobs like house sitting for extra income.  Despite that I did not feel like I was doing a very good job running a business.  I found it difficult to negotiate with my partners on making changes when they liked the clinic the way that it was.   

This past summer I followed up on a post on CAN offering a job as a punk in a very established clinic.  During the interviews (phone and on-site) I realized that this was the work environment that I had been yearning for.  My boyfriend and I moved here a little more than a month later.  He also found a good job that utilizes his skills and knowledge.  We feel pretty blessed right now.
Since we made our big move I have noticed that the number of clinics are posting job openings on CAN.  I am impressed that so many clinics are offering what a chosen field so badly needs: jobs.  Several people in my graduating class are not making a living doing acupuncture or are making very little.  They are either working other jobs to subsidize there incomes or no longer practicing.
~Elizabeth, Manchester Acupuncture Studio, Manchester, NH


I started working at Manchester Acupuncture Studio in Manchester, NH in March 2008. Two months later, I was thrilled to quit my other job and become a full-time salaried acupuncturist.
With the support of a wonderful boss/mentor, over time I was able to build confidence in my skills as an acupuncturist. I felt at home in the community style, learned to talk about acupuncture in simple terms, and loved that I could witness what acupuncture could do for folks when they have affordable access to it.
After two and a half years at MAS I decided to move to southern Vermont. Sadly, I couldn't take MAS with me. I found that the experience of working at a CA clinic along with CAN as a resource supplied me with the tools to start one up here. Most importantly, the support from my MAS family gave me the momentum to go for it. It is really a gift to feel part of a community.
~Tracy, Chester Community Acupuncture, Chester VT

Author: tatyana

<p> I grew up in the Soviet Union and immigrated to the United States as a teen, living in New York and Chicago before moving to the Bay Area in 1998. I began as a Yoga instructor and as a practitioner of Ohashiatsu bodywork and have been practicing Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine since 2003. Before switching to community acupuncture practice model I had a sporadic and struggling private practice, worked as an herbal pharmacist, as an instructor and clinical supervisor at an acupuncture school, plus did a two-year stint doing acupuncture at a public health clinic, working with mostly HIV/HCV+ populations in San Francisco. </p> <p> My discovery of Community Acupuncture practice model (via Lisa Rohleder's Acupuncture Today columns) profoundly transformed my life -- not just my work life but many other aspects of it. I gained a vocation, a community of friends and the most stable and rewarding job I have ever had. I see community acupuncture practice model as the most sustainable and most fitting to my values. It makes sense to me from the point of view of healthcare access, social justice, spirituality, and as an antidote to isolation. In 2008, together with another stellar acupunk Pam Chang I...

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  1. I’m another MAS groupie. I

    I’m another MAS groupie. I run my own clinic now about half an hour away and have two punks working for me. I would have stayed at MAS working for Andy but needed evenings free as I have a young child. Opening my own clinic allowed me to set my own schedule, which was of utmost importance to me as I raise my daughter. Otherwise I certainly would have stayed there and worked full time for him. Being offered a full-time, salaried position as an acupuncturist? Are you kidding? Hasn’t happened to any of my school mates. It was very difficult to pass by that opportunity.