Yesterday, I went to a workshop led by Lisa (Rohleder) entitled: Breaking Barriers with Cooperatives. (I’m skipping this mornings Pain Management presentation to tell you all about it because I attended the pain class last fall–it was fantastic.) I also went to LarryG’s Trigger Points in Recliners, but this post is so long that I’ll have to save it for later. Oh, and I apolpgize for this being written so hastily. It’s not edited or proofread to much extent.
First, a little about the CANference, in general. There are CA practitioners here from all over the U.S. and Canada. I’m not sure how many are here but we fill up the small auditorium. It’s been a real reminder to me about how isolating this work can be. Sure, we see many patients each day and I even have a clinic co-owner to talk with. But building a business from scratch, using a business model that is new and still finding its way, is really hard. Face to face contact is vital for us to stay connected. Much like the buzz created in the treatment room by a sea of blissed-out patients, there is a buzz when we gather to cheer each other on, pat each other on the back and share pep-talks when things are difficult.
Now, for those of you at home, I don’t say these things just to make you jealous. I say them because I think we need to make this kind-of in person contact a priority. All of you who are planning clinics or are maybe in the first year of operation –Get your butt to a training, if you haven’t already! It’s not a luxury to be in the same room with your colleagues. It is a necessity. And we all should start saving for next year’s CANference (there will be one next year, right?). It’s too important to miss.
Breaking Barriers with Cooperatives
After Lisa’s keynote speech (she posted the speech in the previous blog post), I was psyched to hear more about the cooperatives thing: POCA–the People’s Organization for Community Acupuncture. Lisa talked in greater detail about why we need to transition from the non-profit status we have in CAN to the multi-stakeholder cooperative POCA. One of the limitations of CAN has been it’s focus on practitioners. Patients haven’t had much of a role. If we’re going to grow CA to it’s potential (world domination, perhaps), we need a way for ALL stakeholders to be involved. POCA gives us immense opportunity for this. POCA will also allow us to leverage our numbers through future microlending, easier sharing of job opportunities, and perhaps malpractice insurance (and I’m hoping for health insurance but that’s just me). All of these things are off in the distance as we’ll need to grown quite large to make some of them happen, but transitioning to a co-op is the first step.
POCA Mission Statement and Goals
Mission Statement: The purpose of the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture is to create a stable and sustainable economic foundation for the delivery of affordable acupuncture, and to establish and maintain structures to that end.
Goal #1–Facilitate the opening of new clinics, expansion of existing clinics, and stabilize clinics in transition to create and maintain jobs.
Goal #2–Expand, support and sustain the workforce of Community Acupuncturists.
Goal #3–Cultivate collaboration between patients and Community Acupuncture Clinics through the Coop.
Goal #4–Maximize our resources for the economic benefit of POCA members.
Goal #5–Educating members and the public about Community Acupuncture.
Why would stakeholders join POCA? Aside from the official benefits of membership as spelled-out below, members will be supporting the CA movement. This means that patients and community members can help ensure that they and their friends and family members have increased access to acupuncture. An example that Lisa gave is this: If a business in a town is threatened and may go out of business (in this case, a saw mill), and if this business is so vital to the community that it’s closing would harm the town, employees and community members might form a co-operative to buy the mill and keep it open. A local seamstress or baker might join the co-operative as a way of supporting the town’s viability. The benefit they get is that the town survives.
For POCA, patients and community members get a similar benefit–access to community acupuncture, and support for its growth and viability. Because POCA will build capital and perhaps create microloans for future clinics, patients who join POCA might be able to refer their family in another state to new clinic that was supported with a mirco-loan. Or, even more exciting–what if people who wanted a CA clinic in their area were to join POCA? POCA could then tell practitioners that there are members waiting for access in this area and perhaps lure practitioners to under-served areas with ready-bulit contact lists of potential patients. How many of us have heard patients say they wished they could do more to support our clinics? This is one very tangible way for them to do so.
A co-op has 2 types of members: voting and non-voting. POCA will have 2 categories of voting members: Individual patients/community members and Punks/students. The benefits for each type of membership will be as follows (I’m not 100% of how nailed-down these benefits are. I think they are pretty solid, but there may be additions that I don’t have listed here):
- Patients/Community membership ($25 and up): For becoming a member POCA will provide each person with a “punch card” that will give them a 10th treatment free, access to special offers, a waiving of the initial paperwork fee at POCA member clinics, 3 “free treatment cards upon request from POCA member clinics to share with family and friends and a regular newsletter.
- Punks/Students membership ($45 and up): Access to CAN forums, support for various clinic business issues (i.e. HR items such as an employee handbook and various forms already created), collective buying power for supplies, access to low-interest loans, possibly malpractice insurance, etc.
Only the above types of members will have a “vote” for any cooperative business. Non-voting members will include the following:
- Clinics ($50 and up): Can be listed on Locate a Clinic page of website (what I’m not clear about is if this is also true for the punk level).
- Organizations ($100 and up): This one is less clear to me as well, although I’m guessing some advertising benefits would be included. I must have gotten so excited that I just quit taking notes.
Okay, them’s the highlights from Lisa’s workshop. Enjoy!