So you want people to think you’re a Doctor?

Kudos to all my colleagues who have addressed the primary issues of fairness, access and cost, all of which, I believe, will be greatly harmed if the FPD becomes law.I have found your writing to be inspiring, amusing and articulate.Today, I got thinking, though, (and pardon me if six of you have already addressed this point, my memory could use a little acupuncture), about the benefits and costs of being seen as a doctor.

My partner, Melody is a psychotherapist.By some mistake, one of the airlines she is signed up for frequent flyer miles with has listed her as “Dr.” in their records.She tells me the deference and speed with which customer service deals with her problems and requests is astonishing.I know there are people out there who believe the letters Dr. before their name can only lead to more trust, more authority and more social status, things that our culture tells us we should want more of.There are even people who think the letters Dr. will make jobs appear.

I believe, however, like many of you, that the idea that an extra year of education and some extra letters after our names will magically create acupuncture jobs, with actual salaries, somehow embedded in the mainstream medical system, is nonsense.What seems far more likely is that acupuncturists will continue to strive to establish private practices, made more difficult by the burden of additional debt, in communities where 80% or more of the residents have only a vague awareness of who we are and what we do.

Let’s see how it might play out in practice if these folks also think we’re doctors.Keep in mind that we won’t BE doctors, we will just have one extra year of science education.Anybody who has been out of school a few years knows that what you retain is what you use, and we will be using acupuncture skills, not doctor skills, in our clinics, just as we are now.The difference will be that patients will EXPECT us to also have mastery of western medicine:after all, we’re Doctors, aren’t we?The liability issues this will lead to will no doubt be considerable.

But there are other concerns for these new doctors as well.Here is a true story from my practice.Last week, someone broke into my office.They brought along a crowbar and wrenched open the front door, then did the same to my locked file cabinets full of patient charts.They looked in the basement, the cupboards, the closet, any cabinet or storage space they could find.I know this because they were all left ajar.But they didn’t find anything they wanted to steal.My theory, and the police’s theory, is that someone thought I had oxycodone or hypodermic needles in the office. People, this is the level of ignorance in our communities about acupuncture – the very things people come to my office to avoid are being sought in my office!!

Now this happened without me having the letters Dr in front of my name.

If the FPD goes through, I hope you are all prepared to invest in an alarm system.

Author: Diana

<p> I had just hit 10 years in practice when I stumbled on the Working Class Acupuncture model in 1995, via Lisa and Skip's "Little red book of working class acupuncture". After reading this 3 times in the first two weeks, I was ready to jump, and two months later I was offering Community Acupuncture part time in my <a target="_blank" href="">Cape Cod, Massachusetts clinic</a>. </p> <p> While my boutiqe style practice had always been enough to pay the bills, I was forever needing to recruit new clients, and the ones I had often ignored my recommendations for a treatment plan, mosty due to cost. This made me feel frustrated and not very effective. The opportunity to transform my practice in ways that better support me, my community, and my values has been life changing for me. While it's all still a work in progress, there's no question that this is what I want to be doing, and helping others to do as well. </p>

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  1. Good blog, Diana.

    “I believe, however, like many of you, that the idea that an extra
    year of education and some extra letters after our names will magically
    create acupuncture jobs, with actual salaries, somehow embedded in the
    mainstream medical system, is nonsense.”  How true.

    I’m sorry to hear of the break-in and vandalism of your office.

  2. drawbacks of being called doctor

    I’m also sorry to hear about your break-in Diana. I work in a community center and my security systems are – well, perhaps I shouldn’t discuss them in public, but let’s just say it wouldn’t be too hard for people to gain access to my space by someone motivated by the confusion and ignorance which you discuss. 

    Besides the added debt issues which have been written about voluminously in recent weeks on this blog, I also agree about the added time burdens we would face when patients start bogging us down in questions and conversations relative to issues which are truly outside of our scope of practice.

    At present, these questions come up rarely and are quickly answered by “go see your primary care provider”, but with the extra credential, no doubt there would be more public confusion, and this might very well slow down the average intake time with new patients, reducing the number of people we can actually help.