The Electron Cloud of POCA

We’ve had some great classes recently on how to attract patients. We weren’t told we needed to buy a new car or play golf. We weren’t told that we should dress professionally. It wasn’t even suggested that we make social media accounts and make sure we put out plenty of information to all of our patients. On a completely different tangent I spent quite a few hours looking at the websites of acupuncturists all across the country. Many of them offered the same free ebook. They would often have blogs that weren’t attended to. It takes a lot of energy to come up with content on a regular basis. If I had a clinic I wouldn’t be able to sustain any kind of interesting social media presence for more than a few weeks. This brings me to our assignment in February.

Most of the students have a clinic shift out a Rockwood, WCA’s newest clinic. I had a regular weekly shift out there the last few months of 2016. I would often treat one person in a four hour period. In the down time I would work on some stuff for work or class and sometimes I would wander the internet aimlessly. Most of the students had similar experiences at Rockwood. In February we had a class aimed at tackling this problem. We didn’t talk about passing out flyers to all the local businesses or trying to get all of our friends to come out and get treated. We talked about how we are like an atom and all of our prospective patients are like electrons that we attract. Our assignment was to be open to having more patients by not filling our time with distractions but being open and ready for them. For one student it looked like taking ownership of the clinic while on shift. Another tried to ensure they were engaged as a front desk person with their energy focused towards the front and not to the punk cave (all students share front desk responsibilities during their punk shift, there is no separate receptor help on student shifts). I had already completed my clinic hours so I wasn’t able to participate. One other thing that was suggested we might try was daily passage meditation. This is meditating on a spiritual passage to practice keeping attention. ( That’s how I used it. After years of internet usage I find it difficult to stay mentally focused unless I’m involved in something very active. Everyone seemed to have a good experience after the first month so we agreed to continue for another month.

A few days after the module I realised I could try this practice of electron capture with POCA members. I’m the membership coordinator for POCA and am recent to this position. One thing that was suggested when it is slow in clinic is to look at the files of patients that haven’t come in for a while. In the old days some punks would actually touch the paper file folders of patients as a way to stay connected in some manner. I decided I would go through the rolls of expired POCA patient and punk members and just say their names silently to myself. I did this most days for one hour split into two 30 minute sessions. When I first started I would get impatient and want to click on something else (just for a minute! right?) after 15 minutes and would check the timer and see that I still had 15 more minutes. Agh! One day I put off the intention until 10pm. There I was reading names just before bed.

I’ve done this for over three weeks and intend to do it regularly. I’d like to see POCA grow. REI is one of the largest co-ops in the US. There are six million members and 12,000 employees. This means there are 500 members per employee. POCA has 166 clinic members, I’m assuming they are all punk members. Some of the clinics have employees so a nice round number is 200 punk members. There are 1234 patient members. This comes out to 6.17 patients per punk. A reasonable and achievable goal would be 10 POCA patient members per punk. If every clinic member could get just one POCA patient member per month that would be 1992 patient members. Which would mean POCA would have an average of 9.96 patient members per punk!

POCA has a membership drive each May and October with the goal of 400 new members. We also like to retain our old members. You may be hearing from some of us this month as we prepare for the membership drive. I don’t think I’ll have any concrete evidence that my focused attention on expired members has any effect. I do think it will be good practice for when I am a punk and the empty slots on my shift will draw me to distraction.  

Author: pfrey

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Conference Keynote: Breaking the Ceiling

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.


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  1. During reception shifts I would do this- it totally works to get people in the doors, seems only logical that it would work to bring in new POCA members! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nice one, Pete. Rather than just wanting POCA to grow to x members by x%, there is something appealing to me about framing growth as a ratio of punks to patients.

  3. Thanks for writing, Pete. I also have some difficulty staying focused and sitting; but if I do a walking or QI Gong meditation I have more success.

  4. Thanks for the post, Pete. In the words of Paramahansa Yogananda: ….”you must realize that thoughts are things. The very universe is composed not of matter but of consciousness. Matter responds, far more than most people realize, to the power of thought. For will power directs energy, and energy in turn acts upon matter. Matter, indeed, is energy.”

    I had a roommate years ago for whom I created an unflattering nickname in my mind. I never called this name to his face. As soon as I stopped thinking that name and seeing him in a more positive light, my relationship with him changed for the better. Thoughts are tangible.

    If nothing else, reviewing patient names is a great way to keep your mind present on the clinic and helps create an atmosphere of being patient-centered.

  5. I still get that urge to post fliers and free treatment cards when things get slow. But, caring for the internal space — looking for stray needles, dusting surfaces, lovingly taking care of the room as I would take care of a patient seems to work better.

    thanks for writing this. We needed some new and meaningful content on the blog.

  6. Like molecules, and noodles, it’s better when there’s more than one. As individuals punks we’re like the nucleus (protons and neutrons) pulling in the electrons. The proton part is perhaps the part you talk about here Pete, the focus, the wanting to be there, the wanting to be busy. But the neutron part, it’s not neutral, but it is ubiquitous, it’s matter we share with the other punks and receptors at the clinic, and with patients. Those folks also attract electrons, charged particles to the clinic. And then there’s the effect of all of those bits arranging themselves into bigger and bigger particles, and compounds.
    For example each of us brings our own reason for doing this work, but then there are shared markers, and experiences that happen; a first time hitting 100/week as a punk, crossing the threshold of X00 treatments per week as a clinic, the days when a patient makes you cry, the days when patients notice you’re having a shitty day and comfort you. That’s the neutron stuff, the shared bits of humanness that get passed along from nucleus to nucleus, the stuff that mixed with our proton desire to be of help, attracts the electron energy of pain and suffering to us so that we can try to help with some pins and an open heart.

    All this is what attracts people to POCA not just for acupuncture, but for joining the coop and being part of the electron cloud, a way for many motes to come together and make changes both big and small.