POCA and POCA Tech (We Really Mean It)

As some of you know, we applied for an exemption with the Oregon Dept of Education which would have significantly speeded up our opening date for POCA Tech. As part of applying for the exemption, the Board of Directors of POCA Tech had to put together a statement. It turns out that we did not get the exemption — more about what that means for our timeline, later — but the Board of POCA Tech liked our statement so much that we are keeping it anyway.

Recent interactions with other acupuncture schools have made it clear to me that the most important thing we are doing with POCA Tech is not, actually, lowering the cost of acupuncture education: it's using acupuncture education to prepare students for jobs in our co-op. We don't want an acupuncture school just to have an acupuncture school, even if it's a cheap one. What we really want is well trained community punks who are not crushed by their student loans. POCA Tech is a means to an end, and that end is the growth and development of the POCA cooperative. We want everyone who applies to POCA Tech to feel the same way.

So in that spirit, I have two things for you, comrades.

The first is a new video,

and the second is the statement from the POCA Tech Board of Directors.

The purpose of POCA Tech is to educate and train members of the POCA cooperative
to work as licensed acupuncturists in POCA clinics.

The market rate for acupuncture education leading to licensure ranges from
$10,000 to $25,000 per year for tuition. Our goal is to keep POCA Tech's tuition
under $6,000 per year. This drastic reduction in cost is possible only because
of the generous contributions of time, energy and funds to POCA Tech from
members of the POCA Cooperative. Members have made these contributions with the
faith that they will be used only for the purpose of providing well-trained
workers to current and future clinics of the Cooperative.

In order to ensure that the contributions of the members of the Cooperative are
used appropriately, the Board requires that the following conditions be met:

1) Admissions: application process

Admission to POCA Tech shall be limited to applicants who have been members of
the POCA Cooperative for at least 3 months. Applicants shall provide evidence
that they have used those 3 months to familiarize themselves with the structure
and function of the POCA Cooperative, especially its online forums.

Applicants to POCA Tech are strongly encouraged to provide at least one letter of recommendation from a current POCA member.

Applicants to POCA Tech shall provide evidence that they clearly understand the
responsibilities, obligations, and expected compensation of the position for
which they are training: licensed acupuncturist in a POCA clinic.

Preference in admissions shall be given to applicants who have provided
volunteer service to the POCA Cooperative, either as a working member in a POCA
clinic or as an administrative volunteer to one of the Cooperative Circles.

2) Enrollment

Once accepted to POCA Tech, a condition of enrollment shall be that students
sign an agreement that they will upon graduation:
1) obtain a license to practice acupuncture;
2) work for at least three years after obtaining their license either as an
acupuncturist employee of an existing POCA clinic, or work to open a new POCA
clinic as an acupuncturist owner.

3) Clinical Mentorship

Students shall be required, as part of their clinical training, to find an
experienced POCA acupuncturist member to consult with. If possible, this mentor
shall live in the region where the student ultimately plans to practice.

4) Graduation

A condition of graduation from POCA Tech shall be that students produce a
business plan either for an existing POCA clinic that describes how they will be
employed, or for a new POCA clinic which they will open. Each student's business
plan shall be reviewed by a committee of POCA members drawn from the region in
which they plan to work. Students shall graduate only when the committee has
approved their business plan.

Andy Wegman, Steve Kingsbury, Jade Fang, and Lisa Rohleder

Author: lisafer

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  1. on the video, there is a lot that I could say about the hard lessons that I learned my first few years punking,
    but I would really rather share the interaction I had with a new patient who came in yesterday. I treated a young Army veteran who got back from his deployment in Afghanistan 2 years ago. The only reason why I expressed concern with the fact that he was chewing tobacco is because I wasn’t sure if there would be any complications if he fell asleep. He assured me that he sleeps with his tobacco all the time. I am not going to take away what is probably the one thing that is helping this young man feel comfortable in most of his life and in a totally new and weird situation like his first acupuncture treatment. So I said “okay, as long as you are comfortable.”

    I was relieved that I could be there in that moment with that person and not hold the same stupid judgement that I was taught in acu-school. I was just so happy that this guy came in and could try a treatment and then tell me withing 15 minutes that his head felt a lot better.

    The only think that prepared me for this, was just by showing up again and again for 5 years. My first 2 years as a punk were very hard, because I was switching over from being a massage therapist. The clients from my massage practice were very different from the community acupuncture clinic. My massage clients were more affluent and punctual and generally pleasant and caring towards me as a person. A strong contrast to patients who need affordable acupuncture and could really give a shit about me because they are in pain and their lives are really hard.

    I am glad that our co-op is creating a clinic that will prepare people who really want to do this kind of work and won’t be so disheartened when their patients don’t follow their advice, or just can’t come in as often as we think that they should.

    I have spent a lot of time wondering that if I had known how hard this was going to be, would I have gone this route, But I am glad that I am here. So I guess that answers the question.

  2. Nice post, Roppie, but I do have to say that I find community acupuncture patients very caring, genuinely loving and appreciative and most of the time also punctual to the best of their ability. I think I know what you are trying to say about not expecting community acupuncture patients to spend time and energy to boost our egos, but my experience is that our patients absolutely give a shit about us, about you, about me. They just give a shit about the real me, not some kind of manufactured “professional identity”.

  3. The statement of purpose – what a pleasant experience to read – like a solar flare in the brain. I am utterly addicted to the POCA culture of simple, *intense* clarity.

    And the video – it was just the perfect sweet meditation to start my day in clinic, in a week where I’ve been feeling off my game and out of touch with my patients. That’s just the trailer, right? When does the feature-length video come out? 😉

  4. Totally Tatyana, I was recalling some instances in my first few years that were rough. But, you are right, I didn’t make the distinction that it is not an across the board statement.

  5. “We don’t want an acupuncture school just to have an acupuncture school, even if it’s a cheap one.” Thank you for letting the General Circle collaborate in this decision.

    Just came back from participating in the best CA101 I’ve been involved with to date (I think that makes 4), and I’m filled with love for POCA, POCA Tech, their respective BOD’s and volunteers and member and every little people-cog that makes us strong. As we were all describing POCA, POCA Tech, the microloan program, the Clinic Success work, POCAfest, and the myriad other wonderful structures we’ve built in such a short time, I almost channeled Skip and cried, but figured I’d save it for when I see you all at POCAfest in May (it seems so far away yet!).

    In a world where mission statements are practically put together with a computer, this one stands as a shining example of the unwavering vision of a few people who see the path clearly. May it always be so!