Not that I’m really thinking of starting my own school, but if I were…..one of the introductory first year courses I would require for my students would be to work in a restaurant waiting tables. I believe it’s a great training for an acupuncturist, especially if you are going to practice community acupuncture.
Besides it’s practical applications such as fairly flexible schedules, good part-time income for a student and the food benefits it requires multitasking skills that the new acupunk will need in the community acupuncture setting.
I often think about how similar treating patients as a community acupuncturist is to waiting tables. Instead of turning tables we flip chair covers. (checking for stray needles, not crumbs) Instead of people telling me what they want I figure out what they need. Both jobs require to very quickly determining how to best communicate with patients/patrons effectively. In both scenarios people typically want their check or wake up from their nap at the same time.
I usually scan the room to check on each person while they are reclining just as a good waiter/tress will make sure all the needs of their patrons are being met. The waitperson brings food while the acupuncturist checks on comfort by offering an extra blanket or adjusting the chair.
In a busy shift both acupuncturist and waiter loose a sense of time as they are working (“in the face of creativity time becomes meaningless”) There are so many details to consider which require a lot of focus with both occupations. Just as a busy restaurant shift can energize a person, a slow acupuncture shift can equally make a person tired and lethargic. When people are coming and going the energy flows and it’s palpable. (especially the thick “Qi” permeating the acupuncture clinic)
Often times patients will all show up at the same time. I like to acknowledge each patient so they know I will be with them as soon as I am able. In restaurant lingo when you are very busy (overwhelmed) you are “in the weeds”. I can’t remember where that expression came from, but that’s another story. In the acupuncture clinic when it gets hectic I’ll take a deep breath and make sure I am grounded so I can focus completely with each person. I know when I have lots of patients to treat (or to serve) I do my best work because I have to be efficient as well as think with my heart and hands and not as much with my head.
I wonder what my teachers would say about my school with foundational table waiting as part of the acupuncture curriculum? In addition to memorizing point location there would be the experiential requirement of interacting with lots of hungry impatient people. One course could be entitled Table Diagnosis 101. How to handle the….And of course I would have to submit test questions to the NCCAOM. Who knows, it could catch on…Either way, don’t forget to tip your waitperson.