Tales from POCA Tech fundraising

We wrote this in advance of a POCA Tech fundraising party last Friday in Manchester, NH and thought to share it here for all POCA members.

The party ended up raising $1,000 for POCA Tech start-up costs.

The Story Behind this past weekend's Halloween Party/POCA Tech Fundraiser

Going to acupuncture school is a long and very expensive endeavor – but it hasn't always been this way. Not ten years ago I graduated with 20k worth of student loans after finishing a three-year master's-level course that allowed me to start on my way and get licensed in MA & NH. That (relatively) modest amount of debt to begin to learn a trade and be useful to people seemed a fair deal. Ultimately it allowed me to open Manchester Acupuncture Studio, hire, expand and hire some more.

The cost of these same programs has ballooned wildly since 2000 – and some would argue since the mid-nineties. At this point it's fairly common for graduates of the same program to spend 60-100k for the same training – that's 3 to 5 times as much! This kind of debt load will often function as a personal financial anchor and a large barrier towards offering affordable acupuncture – like here at MAS and other Community Acupuncture clinics – as the need for a high wage to pay these large loans will keep new grads from taking solid-but-unspectacular paying jobs, both inside and outside of acupuncture. It is because of all of this we can't recommend enrolling into a 3-year Master's degree program, as it functions as personal financial suicide at current costs. (read more here)

What this means to all of us is, there are likely to be fewer and fewer acupuncturists who can afford to open and/or work at Community Acupuncture clinics. And it's a problem.

The following analogy has been made previously about Community Acupuncture clinics.  It can easily be applied to Community Acupuncture education as well:  On special occasions, those who are financially able can take an opportunity to have a meal at a 5-star restaurant. The linen tablecloths, live music, famous chefs and exotic cuisine can certainly be a nice treat.  When it comes down to it however, the less expensive diner or neighborhood eatery (or home-cooked meal for that matter) will do just as good of a job feeding and nourishing the rest of us folks at a fraction of the cost.

The prevailing model of Acupuncture education is the 5-star restaurant.  Very expensive with lots of pretty extras. But there are simply no other options for those who may want a good, thorough education but can't afford the exotic price tag.

The great news is we may have found a terrific fix for this – and we need your help to make it happen.

POCA Tech is a nascent 3-year, Community Acupuncture training program that is a candidate for national accreditation. It is also a program that will be offering its students a terrific, hands-on education for a fraction of the cost of any other acupuncture school in the US – approximately $5,ooo/year.

The goal for keeping tuition this low, is two-fold:

1) It will allow people of ordinary incomes who are interested in community acupuncture as a career path to be able to enter the profession and not be saddled with untenable debt.

and

2) It will also allow people from many different walks of life, class and ethnic backrounds to be able to return to their own communities after graduation and offer affordable acupuncture – as opposed to these communities waiting for someone outside the area to come in and set up shop.

Creating an educational opportunity for people who are called to community acupuncture but don't have access to/don't want the debt load of 60 —> $150,000 for the training is the goal of POCA Tech.

In order to begin the process of getting the program off the ground, a total of $125,000 is needed for various fees and costs – including the cost of applying for accreditation (so the school will be recognized nationally as a legitimate program, thus allowing grads to sit for the national exam)

If this idea is tickling your interest bone and you'd like to learn more, head on over to www.pocatech.org and read on.

A small number of POCA co-op members have already raised approximately $5000(update…. $20,000). We're appealing to you to help as you can for the remainder, no matter how small the amount you can offer. It's all appreciated very much.

Go to www.pocatech.org, look for the donate button and follow the easy steps.

Andy Wegman @ MAS

andy-wegman
Author: andy-wegman

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The theme for this conference is “Breaking Barriers”. You know, there are so many barriers to break in acupuncture that it was really hard to choose which ones to talk about for this speech. But since I’ve spent so much time talking about classism as a barrier, I thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and talk about numbers.

Responses

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  1. What a great letter! I am going to bet that you are getting the same reactions from patients that we are getting: “What a wonderful idea!” “I am so happy to contribute to this!” and the one that always gets me, from long-time regulars, “Oh, I’m so proud of you!”

  2. How’d you know? “now that makes sense”, “you guys always have something good cooking”, “give me ten raffle tickets, please”

  3. In addition to the Halloween Fundraiser party, we have been raffling off a free treatment a week at $1 per ticket. This was Mary’s great idea since we scored a role of raffle tickets from my friends who organized the NH Pridefest. We are putting out this letter at the front desk by the sign for the raffle.

    This letter will be placed by our sign for the raffle at the front desk as we continue to raise $ for POCA Tech over the next few months.

  4. I love the raffling off a free treatment idea! I will implement this at my clinic as well!!