Scope of Practice Loophole Allows Monkey to Practice Acupuncture

Capitalizing on a loophole in scope of practice laws for AOM in Oregon, a chimpanzee has been “hired” to needle patients in a southeast Portland clinic.  Peaches, a five-year-old female chimpanzee, has been needling patients for two years at Monkey Shines Community Acupuncture.  “She has amazing skills and gets fantastic results.” said clinic owner and guardian of Peaches, Harold McRae.  “The state medical board language clearly implies that licensees are human.  Therefore, the standards that apply to acupuncturists in Oregon are limited to humans.”

Throughout history in China, apprenticeship had been the primary route of study for acupuncture practitioners.  It is only in recent times that training methods have become standardized in a rote fashion as seen in the United States today, as well as China, where an emphasis on the herbal paradigm has driven the length and cost of education ever higher.  Now, apprenticeship is the exception rather than the rule in a country where everything is for profit, including education.  As a result, Peaches may be one of the last acupuncturists trained in the traditional apprenticeship fashion.  As of December 31, 2010 the Apprenticeship Route for Acupuncture will be abolished as a route of eligibility. “Peaches had been watching me needle people at home for years.  I just didn’t realize that she was studying my every move.  Then one day, I had a really bad migraine and fell asleep on the couch rubbing my temples.  When I woke up an hour later, the migraine was totally gone and I had four gates and yintang in, all at the recommended depths.  I was blown away.  Peaches was just sitting there in her beanbag on the floor, with a big old grin on her face.”  

It was then that McRae got the idea that Peaches could solve the hiring problem he was having at clinic. Having hired and been dissatisfied with new graduates at his busy community acupuncture clinic, McRae knew that by virtue of her not having attended acupuncture school, Peaches would make a much better hire.  “Peaches takes out all the fluff.  The intakes are like lightning.  Peaches will just jump right on a new patients lap and take the pulse and check the tongue.  That’s it.”  Peaches has a chart that she points to for frequency of treatment and patients are given an information packet that answers the most common questions, minimizing confusion.  This isn’t to say that Peaches didn’t initially need a little coaching to smooth out some rough edges.  “At first she would also start grooming the patient during the intake, picking through their hair and all.  But I was able to get her to stop that easily.  She is just so trainable.”

So far, the medical board has been unable to shut down Monkey Shines CA, as the letter of the law is not clear about monkey’s practicing acupuncture.  The board had called a hearing, which Peaches and McRae did attend, but the hearing was abruptly cancelled when Peaches threw feces at the Board.  Anti-Peaches acupuncturists in attendance were also hit with feces and the legions of Peaches patients in the courtroom jumped to their feet in applause.  “I’d say it was the most bold display of professional activism I’ve ever seen in this field.  Miriam Lee would have been proud.” boasted McRae.

Patients just love Peaches and her lack of pretense.  She is able to see 15 patients an hour and her schedule is full two weeks in advance.  Her efficiency in the clinic is matched by her compassion and rapport with her patients.  Often times she will walk her last patients to their cars after a busy shift, holding their hands.  “She really cares for people in a way that asks for nothing in return.  It’s quite amazing.  My phone rings off the hook with acupuncturists who want to follow her in clinic.  Her heart is a mile wide.”

Monkey Shines Community Acupuncture is well on it’s way to becoming the busiest clinic in the region, a testament to the power of proper training.  New hires are required to follow Peaches in clinic for at least a month before they are able to begin working their own shifts.  It is only after this long, arduous period of deprogramming by a monkey that new graduates are cleansed of the poor habits learned in school and are able to demonstrate the skill set required in a busy CA clinic.  This has enabled McRae to make plans to open a chain of low-cost, high-quality clinics in the state, as he is no longer handicapped with shoddy graduates that make poor employees, a factor that had made growth impossible until the emergence of Peaches. And having a monkey as the most valuable employee at your clinic has unforeseen benefits for McRae.  

“She is willing to work for bananas.  It really helps the bottom line.”

The Zang Fool
Author: The Zang Fool

<p> This is a satirical blog post by a practitioner that is serious in his attempts to both increase acupunctures accessibility to the public and challenge practitioners preconceived notions of what acupuncture is and how it functions in society. It may make you laugh, but that is just a means to an end. That end is thought and ultimately positive change. This is what all good satire does: prick, prod and provoke thought and positive change within a community. </p> <p> Satire has long been a part of muckraking and this profession is teeming with muck.  So, in the wake of the nonsense spewed from the foul anus of the Acupuncture-Industrial Complex come my musings on life, love and the proposed doctoral program. </p>

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  1. Love it. I’ve missed you, Zangie.

    I’m so excited!  my state stipulates that you must first have a Department of Natural Resources permit to buy a chimp.  They are pretty expensive, about $50,000 purchase price.  I would have to be able to write that off and amortize it under wages and investments for the clinic.

    I think McRae could write a guide for us punks on the care of chimps.  For example, flinging feces is known to be pretty common for these guys, and I’d want to know how to teach my little helper when to and when not to do so. Occasional temper tantrums and fecal flinging are probably worth tolerating to get such great clinical tech support.

  2. laughing so hard it hurts…

    This Fool made my day!


    “It is only after this long, arduous period of deprogramming by a monkey
    that new graduates are cleansed of the poor habits learned in school
    and are able to demonstrate the skill set required in a busy CA clinic.”


    This feels like an accurate, albeit cutting, description of the patient-focused heart opening and practical clinical efficiency required of acupunks in a busy CA clinic; like a machete-slash through herbalized (zang-fu) acupuncture protocols and excessive theorizing and caulding of patients to help them heal. Plus, you may start out working for what feels like bananas… 


    Very useful analogies, thanks Fool!


    – M

  3. Definitely

    like the display of temper with the feces the best.  So, Fool, does your monkey have any monkey acu friends who enjoy frigid winters?  Have I got bananas for them!