I have a confession to make, recently I had a chance to do something, something I haven’t done in seven years, something dear to my heart, and so utterly addicting (to me), I just have to come clean and fess up:I… went…. snowboarding.Weee-hoooo!
You wouldn’t think it to be possible in the land of saguaro cactus, but high above the Sonoran desert floor of Tucson at 8000-9000 feet, exists a teeny gem of a winter wonderland called Mt. Lemmon – that is, when we get a lot of snow up there, for a few weeks some years.And we did 2 weeks ago, about 5 feet in one storm, enough to make me and a whole lot of other smiling faces feel like we were in heaven.I missed the big powder by about 3 days, but who cares.It was phenomenal.What a way to press the reset button.In some ways reminded me of getting a really, really good acupuncture treatment.And today while I listen tobeautiful rains fall on our doorstep, it’s snowing up on the mountain again.
So also recently I picked up some leisure reading.I have been meaning to read this book for about a year, and finally got around to it.I was so lost in FPD land there for awhile that I was forgetting about the sheer joy of reading something not related to acupuncture, politics, acupuncture politics, or some depressing slant on corrupt national politicians trying to spin a good yarn about the bucketful of er, shit, they are trying to pass off as national health care reform.(Go Grijalva !Don’t back down.)
So I picked up Outliers, finally, as I am a big fan of Malcolm Gladwell.I have truly found many of his observations in his previous books (The Tipping Point and Blink) to be especially helpful in this journey so far as a community acupuncturist.I’ve written about this a little bit in the forums, and I recommend them for every community acupuncturist’s reading list.
( Jessica recently wrote about the Roseto effect here mentioned in Outliers.)
So as I swam further and further along with the currents in Outliers, pages speeding by me like a fresh breeze on a (packed) powder day high in the clouds on a mountain sky island above the desert, my mind would always drift back to “Chapter Two: The 10,000 Hour Rule”.
“The idea that excellence at performing a complex task requires a critical minimum level of practice surfaces again and again in studies of expertise. In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise: ten thousand hours.” (Outliers, chapter 2 p. 31)
Neurologist Daniel Levitin is quoted by Gladwell : “The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world class expert – in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.”(Outliers, chapter 2 p. 31)
So how long does it take to do ten thousand acupuncture treatments?
I’d ask Mr. Turtle or Mr. Owl , but I think Owl might just do 3 acupuncture treatments and write a book, or bite the needle. So let’s count.In acupuncture school I was required to log 850 hours in the clinic, 150 observation and 700 treatment hours.With one patient per hour, the most treatments I could have done was 700. So about 300-350 treatments per year in the school clinic over 2+ years.So let’s just say about 700 treatments for the average acupuncture graduate.
Doing some more math, (courtesy of Skip), the average acupuncturist in 2007 saw a whopping grand total of 638 visits. How long until 10,000 at that rate?15.7 years.Well, 14.7 years if you count the treatments given in school.
Let that sink in for a minute…
So the average acupuncturist approaches “mastery” or world class expertise in 15 years.Yikes.That’s a long road.
How quickly can one’s skills progress as a community acupuncturist?Well, if you double the annual visits from 638 ( 2007 average noted above) to 1276, then you effectively cut the time to 10,000 in half. About 7.5 years.At 2500 visits per year, it’s 4 years.And so on.
I’ve heard things like this said, “Community acupuncture is all low quality anyways so all you are doing is becoming a ‘low-quality’ recipe technician”, or“Who cares if you see more people but give substandard treatments…”, etc.
That is a whole ‘nuther blog, but basically to which I say, “(coughing) ba-low-nee”.
Here are some footsteps to follow and shoulders to stand on:
Miriam Lee: 80 patients a day, reportedly crammed into all the nooks and crannies of her house.
Dr.Richard Tan:“Practice to learn…”
Dr. Tung: various reports have him seeing thousands upon thousands of patients, treating the Chinese army for crying out loud.
Dr. Wang Ju-Yi : “Twenty of us would see patients at a time.The old wooden temple buildings had been sub-divided into six large treatment rooms with two to four doctors in each room.I remember once that twenty of us saw six hundred patients in one morning alone.We had a lot of beds.”Dr. Wang reports that he worked in this setup for ten years. (Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine, p.434)
I am sure there are plenty of more examples out there. ( and please feel free to add these in the comments)
So, how do you get to see so many more people so quickly?
It’s simple really.
Make your services affordable.
Sounds like a win-win situation for everyone.More people get affordable care, and the community acupuncturist’s skills grow stronger and stronger more quickly to serve more people effectively. And personally, I feel very, very happy with my “job”. I LOVE it. ButI didn’t truly get it until DOING it.
Who else gets this?
In the chiropractic world, some chiropractic places locally get it, they charge $20 or less for a treatment and take people on a walk-in basis.Recently I stopped by one of these local affordable chiros to accompany my sweetie for treatment towards the end of the day, and this chiro had already seen 80 people. He’s been at it for years. I’ve seen him, and I consider him very knowledgeable, skillful, and I am glad he is there for the community. The care is affordable, skillful and there when I need it.
In the material world, places like thrift stores understand affordability. It makes so much more sense to me on many levels to pay $5 for a pair of gently worn pants. Small amounts, bigger volume, it all works.
Some of my friends run a yoga studio here and have recently discovered the power of affordability in the form of $4 per class, the sustainability of lots of small amounts. In a flat economy, they just opened another location.
So if you are considering being a community acupuncturist or getting community acupuncture, be careful not to underestimate the power of lots of small amounts, and happy trails on your road to 10,000 treatments.