Toaster Time!

Comrades, as you may remember, way back in January, I put up a blog post about jobs for acupuncturists that ended with the following challenge:

Thanks to the suggestion of alert reader
Meaghan, I am pleased to announce a VERY SPECIAL OFFER. To the first
person who sends me evidence of a Real, Relevant, Replicable Job with an
Upper Middle Class Professional Salary, I will send you your very own
TOASTER! To take advantage of this opportunity, you must send, along
with your name and your address, the names of the people who hold this
job, the names of the organization(s) or person(s) who employ them, a
description of the income stream that supports the job, and a short
description of the job’s characteristics (salary, benefits, etc.) But
don’t despair — if you are the second person who sends me evidence of
such a job, I will ALSO send you your very own toaster!  Same for the
third, fourth, etc. Plenty of toasters here.

Edited Again: But it can’t be the SAME job. If there is only, say, ONE
Real, Relevant, Replicable Job with an Upper Middle Class Professional
Salary for acupuncturists out there, you do not ALL get toasters for
telling me about it. I mean, come on.

So, just about six months later, I have had TWO people send me information about a Real, Relevant, Replicable Job — and yes, it’s the same job, which means there is just one toaster for two people, which is a problem that we are going to solve, dammit, but I’ll get to that later. First, let’s talk about the job.

Keith Zabik of Tucson Community Acupuncture, justly famous around here as The Googler, found this job posting with Cancer Treatment Centers of America for a staff acupuncturist. Jessica Feltz, with her 1,414 Facebook friends, of course KNOWS someone who actually holds that same position, and was able to confirm that this is an advertisement for an employee position with full benefits (vacation and sick time, malpractice insurance and CEUs paid for), supported not by student loans but by actual revenues from the hospital where the position is located. Keith did a little more digging and was able to confirm that the salary range is between $52-65K.

But. (There had to be a but, right?)

A prerequisite for the position is 3 to 5 years of experience. The actual posting says 5 years required, but based on the emails Keith exchanged with the people who posted the job, and the fact that it was posted on April 25th and is still unfilled, I’m guessing they might take someone with only 3 years.

And though it looks like this job is really replicable — Keith found 8 employees of CTCA nationwide who have acupuncture degrees — fully half of those *also* have ND degrees. Which suggests that a dual degree is more likely to get you an acupuncture job (or it might be a slightly different job, we don’t know).

I’m not sure that $52-65K counts as a truly UPPER middle class professional salary but it is at least middle-middle class, so I’ll give Keith and Jessica the benefit of the doubt, not to mention the toaster, since they managed to locate a grand total of four L.Acs nationwide who are real employees.

Four jobs — OK, five, counting the one that is waiting to be filled — and some 2,000 new graduates of acupuncture schools every year.  Four jobs that also require 3-5 years previous experience. Which means, one way or another, new graduates are still looking at some variation on self-employment or starting their own businesses for 3 to 5 years after graduation, many of them burdened with debt loads of over $150K.

Clearly, not just any toaster would do. I had to dig deep.

Ideally, it wouldn’t be JUST a toaster — the way that an acupuncture degree isn’t just a degree, and an acupuncture job isn’t just a job, it’s about being transformed into a healing force and an agent of change — so it better be a toaster that pours forth rose petals, rainbows, and unicorns:





OK, I did the best I could! Just like the acu- schools are doing the best they can! Come on, we’re really trying!


Really, we are.

And since there might not be quite enough toaster to go around…Keith and Jessica, you’re so demanding…we’re going to try really hard to fix that problem, too.IMG_0651.jpgIMG_0652.jpgIMG_0653.jpg

Author: lisafer

Related Articles

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.


  1. Pardon my rough math,

    but it appears to me that the pay is similar (per hour worked and benefits) as what WCA pays their acupuncture employees.  And this is with 5 years prior clinical experience?  

  2. oh em gee

    I love you, Lisa.  Really.  I’d ask you if I could move in but that would require you to make more money so you could support me (since I’m a punk and work for a song and a pat on the back.) 

    And then you’d have to apply for that job.

  3. A possible sideline for you?

    Detailing toasters and other home appliances, perhaps something

    that could be integrated into future acupuncture programs as something to fall back on.  

    I hope that when CTCA’s position is finally filled they will consider reimbursing you for the toasters as a *wink* headhunter’s fee.

  4. maybe Keith and Jessica

    could have joint custody?  Half the year in AZ, half in MD?

    Or maybe, since it’s so fabulous, it should go on tour?  Have its picture taken in front of all the acupuncture establishments (the schools, the NCCAOM, etc.)?

  5. awesome

    btw- we all know that unicorns fart rainbows but apparently via pictures above they also vomit them.  Which leads to my question… Do all unicorn bodily functions result in rainbows?

  6. I love this idea!

    My kids second grade reading class sent a bear touring this past year. So much fun! We can give it a blog space on the new website. Perhaps Disney will be inspired to make “The Brave Little Toaster II” (It was a little scary watching this trailer and seeing the similarities with the Acupuncture Profession!) 

  7. you know

    the tour idea has potential. Skip asked me last night if I was going to pack it up and mail it, and I said no, after some reflection it didn’t feel quite done to me. It needs glitter, and maybe a meridian doll glued to it. (Don’t you think?) This toaster might be “in process” for a while. Or maybe we should send it around to various punks who can either work on it or photograph it in front of acupuncture institutions? Hmmm…

  8. it depends

    on how much the CTCA L.Acs are working — if they are working a lot, yes. WCA pays its punks $32-35K for about 32 hours of work per week.  I bet they also offer health insurance, which currently we don’t, because we haven’t been able to find anything that we can afford that people actually *want* — we’re hoping that changes because the Oregon legislature has been busy lately and there may be some better products coming soon. But other than that, yeah, it looks like the benefits are comparable, and we hire people right out of school.

    The other irony? If there are in reality only 4 jobs available for plain old L.Acs with CTCA, Keith and Larry and Shoshana have created that many themselves at Tucson Community Acupuncture.

  9. of course!

    if you dont ask the uncomfortable, inconvienent questions then you may do the wrong treatment!  there is no room for being nice in the treatment room!



    Clearly, the solution is for Lisa or Skip to make the toast — I mean the damn thing has 2 slots, right? — and send out a piece to each winner. AND the toaster should be featured at all CANferences from here to eternity.

    Clearly the unicorns need Dr. Tan’s Magic 8.

    Also, I’d be happy to bring home $50-62,000 without any overhead and paid vacation and all that other stuff. Except, I wonder what kind of daily bullshit I’d have to put up with…..


  11. I’m wondering…

    I am a little curious as to why don’t LAc’s write letters and emails to congressmen, legislators, hospital administrators, insurance companys, spend time lobbying ect. Don’t you think if people in political power knew more about what the profession can offer they would want to offer it to everyone as a first line instead of drugs and surgery? A LAc has more training than a Physical Therapist or Nurse Practitioner, whats the deal? This probably sounds a bit clueless but surely pharmaceutical malpractice is high enough that a safe alternative is desperately needed. Is this issue of no jobs apply to Dc’s and Nd’s?
    A hospital like Ohsu for example has no acupuncturists, WHY? Also, why do they choose to cling so tightly to pharmaceutical doctrine, narrow minded reductionistic view of the body.
    The salary of Ohsu’s president Joseph Robertson (who is an MD) is likely anywhere from the 250-500k+ range. Surely he could be educated about this medicine which has no side effects and has been around for 5000+ years. Are we not all wanting to improve peoples health? Our health outcomes in this country speak for themselves.. THEY ARE TERRIBLE when considering all factors

    K thanks!

  12. more work

    From the listing, it does look like at least a 40 hour work week (posting says 8-5, maybe evenings — evenings in addition?)

    Also note that experience in an integrative setting is highly desired.  Since there are no jobs, integrative or not, gaining the experience for this job may be somewhat impossible.

  13. .

    love them unis!

    next school survey i get im going to recommend they add courses in unicorn stable managing and rainbow composting techniques in the multidisciplinary clinc. i remember dr tan saying horses were a wood animal, i wonder what unicorns are?  woodx100 million thousand maybe? 5Ers, any input?



    lisa, please do the right thing. despite the fact we live in a toaster right now, you know this gem belongs here at the tucson stable….

  14. read this post by John Weeks

    There’s no economic incentive for people in the business of delivering conventional care to look at the benefits of something like acupuncture.

    There’s really no money in acupuncture. You can’t patent it the way you can patent pharmaceuticals, so no company wants to put lots of money into the research that would prove how great it is. It doesn’t generate profits to pay lobbyists to persuade congresspeople. The rest of the world is not going to create jobs for us, we pretty much have to create them for ourselves:

  15. .

    too bad he concludes we need to focus on getting the government to act.  its largely driven by the same special intrests that maintain the status quo. 

    health care reform that incoporates CAM on a large scale (or a small scale) is change that will take some time to happen if it ever does…

    but who needs it?  we got POCA.

  16. pretty sure

    that the unicorn is swallowing that whole rainbow (rather than vomiting it) and that it’s leading directly to rainbow farts …

    also pretty sure those unicorns require some cocktails to wash that down.

     toaster – come on down to WCA-Hillsdale!


  17. Toaster Tour

    Can I put in a request to have the Toaster at our Madison, WI workshop July 16 – 17?  We’ll have 40+ employers/employees connecting at our Hiring Table over breaks.  That might be a great visual of all the job openings in the Midwest…

  18. I think we’re gonna need more toasters…

    I was planning to take it to Nashville to visit Alexa and her employees. I’ll make you another unicorn-festooned toaster for the workshop — if Nora promises to knit it a hat!

  19. The Other 9% is murky

    According to the NCCAOM 2008 JTA report 90.1% work in solo practice. As we say in data interpretation this is a “quick and dirty” statistic. Emphasis on dirty. According to Dr. Ward-Cook’s report 11.6% work in Other Settings which includes “Patient Homes, Integrated Specialty Practice, Research Facility, Nursing Home, Community Clinic, Health Spa, Drug Detoxification Center, etc.” That’s a big category. Health Spas? These folks are either paid by the hour or they split the fee like a massage therapist would at less than half the $150. Community clinic? This could be a lucrative role for LAcs if they knew more about primary care. I met a CAN dude at the May CANference who worked in a community clinic. An FQHC will pay >$100 for a session. He could be paid $75/hr and work >20 hrs/week. This is about as common as ACAOM shutting down a phony school. Nursing homes? Research facilities? At 11% of the 700 respondents (did I get that right?) we are talking about 75 people altogether. 8.2% work in Wellness Centers which means they are probably working at a fixed hourly rate (could be decent, maybe $70/hr) in a lucrative “integrative center”. This job is only as good as the center is at getting the paying customers – I mean patients – to pony up. Finally, we get to the real “promise” the acustablishment sold to the students (at least in CA it would appear the Chinese LAcs are especially susceptible to this pitch): the promise of being a doctor, except you are a doctor in Chinese Medicine which means only you would understand it but that’s not really an issue – hey you’re a doctor! 6.6% work in hospitals says NCCAOM. This is the ultimate joke on the unsuspecting student. There are no jobs for LAcs and there will NEVER be jobs for LAcs in hospitals. Hospitals hire MDs and RNs and PAs. Then they hire the tech positions in phlebotomy, imaging, etc. They all fight for their turf. Believe me. There is zippo left for LAcs. But you would have to know healthcare to know this. That the NCCAOM would represent this as a viable option is better than Rodney Dangerfield reincarnated. There are NO JOBS for LAcs outside of private practice. There never will be any jobs in mainstream healthcare until LAcs are trained in primary care. However, it looks like CAN will be the first to offer jobs in CAN clinics for LAcs trained to work in the future of healthcare: affordable care with low risk at your convenience. Here is the problem with acupuncture training. Calling it a “medicine” when it is a modality. If you want to work in medicine get trained in medicine. There is nothing wrong with being needled by someone who understands the treatment is “subclinical”. I get acupuncture from a former DAOM student who runs a nice practice. She manages it like a business the way I used to run my counseling practice. If you have insurance we will max it out. If you are paying cash you are paying what you can afford. Pretenses to the contrary are bullshit. I always tell her she practice so much like a CAN model. I always tell her she is among the upper 10%. So is Matt Bauer in terms of income. At least she dispenses with the mysticism. They are the exceptions.

  20. You owe me a toaster

    Christus St Vincent Regional Medical Center, Santa Fe, NM
    Integrative Medicine Program
    Created by me, Eric Raymond Buckley, DOM
    Wrote all the policies and procedures, created the documentation
    Program approved unanimously by Medical Executive Committee
    Have two treatment rooms and an herbal pharmacy
    Work in the outpatient clinic, integrated with PT, OT and SLP
    Work in the emergency department (ER)
    Work in the inpatient setting on the med/surg floors and inpt rehab
    Hired another DOM 6 months after me who works in the Cancer Center
    We make $69,000 a year and get ONE MONTH vacation/sick time
    You can reply to my email to get my address.
    I’ll be awiting my toaster, thank you.