Toaster Tour Interview #1: Ginna Browning, LAc, LMBT, President, North Carolina AAOM

strong>1)  Looking at the recent NCCAOM Job Task Analysis, why do you think there are so few jobs for acupuncturists? What do you think that says about the acupuncture profession?

I think that we are just not there yet. Acupuncture is still too unfamiliar to Americans in general. The profession is here for people who believe in it and want to help other people who also believe in it. I don’t know anyone who went to acupuncture college for the money. 

strong>2) What jobs for acupuncturists do you know of that fit the criteria of The Toaster Tour — real, relevant, and replicable? (See this blog post for an explanation of the criteria.) Please list the jobs, including the nature of the funding stream that supports them if you know it. We will try to independently verify them, of course; any contact information you have is greatly appreciated.

I do not believe that these jobs exist today. 

3) Who do you think is the largest employer of L.Acs in the U.S.? How many jobs
does the largest employer provide?

Due to the high volume of sole proprietor acupuncture practices, the largest employer of L.Ac.s in the U.S. is the American people. Our patients are who provide us with jobs. 

4) In your opinion, what groundwork needs to be done in order for more acupuncturists to have real jobs? Who is responsible for doing that groundwork?

I believe that any practitioner who has done due diligence prior to paying for acu college will understand the current climate and know that the responsibility is theirs to create work for themselves. I went in knowing I would have to start a practice. How to do that, where to do that, and when to do that were all in order in my mind ahead of time. We should all be working together to educate other healthcare providers, human resource directors, patients, and the insurance companies about the benefits of what we offer. If we believe that our service is effective, affordable, and worth paying for, we should be able to facilitate a discussion about that. Organizations like the NCCAOM, AAAOM, and the CCAOM should be putting money towards that public education. 

strong>5) The availability of jobs for acupuncturists is a pressing concern because students are now graduating with so much Title IV debt that it is impossible for many of them to start their own businesses, which means more and more graduates are never able to practice acupuncture at all. What do you think is the solution to this problem? And who is responsible for addressing it?

I believe that some of the responsibility belongs to the for-profit colleges benefiting from the Title IV loans. Students should be more prudent about how much they borrow. Living within their means, working part-time, and saving to start a practice are reasonable expectations for anyone. If I can do it, any smart practitioner can. I’m not special, just well networked.

Jessica Feltz
Author: Jessica Feltz

<p> I learned about Community Acupuncture while studying at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine (MCOM) in the Spring of 2006 when Lisa Rohleder's first article about her clinic appeared in Acupuncture Today. Coming from a middle-class background myself, I was the only student in my acupuncture class to have not experienced the healing benefits of this medicine prior to beginning studies at MCOM. I couldn't afford it. And my family couldn't understand what I was doing by investing in an education that they didn't perceive to be financially sustainable. </p> <p> The Community Acupuncture model is a perfect fit for me, balancing social justice and taoist simplicity with the patient's innate ability to heal him/herself (with a few gentle nudges from strategically placed needles). I am grateful every day to have found CAN and the love it brings into my life. I want to share that joy by spreading the message about how we can create a new health care experience in our communities through each of our very small efforts...and how those very small efforts can in turn change the world. </p> I enjoy my two sons, my 4 cats, and big stacks of books.  I own and operate...

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  1. Blame the students

    I love how these people make their money crippling the future of the profession by crippling the futures of individual students. Then they place the blame back on students for “borrowing too much.”  They know the only money to be made in this profession as it stands is by getting a slice of that debt pie and they tell themselves that it is the students’ fault to be able sleep at night. Take our money, steal our futures, then blame it all on us.  Very classy, guys.

  2. First of all, thank you Ginna…

    …for being the first posted response here. I look forward to reading each and every response. A non-response also counts in my book. Only no response = zero.

    I’m piggy backing on Kim’s comment: for many AOM students tuition, shelter and food dictate their Title IV loan need (have you seen how incredibly bloated the Master’s programs are both in clock hours and tuition? Don’t get me started on the doctorate issue. Having a ‘D’ doesn’t = having a job). Smartness on anyone’s part has little to do with a practitioner’s success. Props for having it though. AOM schools are both ‘for profit’ & ‘not for profit’. The tax status of the school has never been measured against the success of the graduate. I would love my alma mater (OCOM) to do a complete BLS ‘workforce’ standard survey of their entire alumni pool – data collection, methods and analysis fully disclosed. They have graduated just over 1,000 students between 1983-2010 (more soon this September). In fact, I’d love every single AOM school in the US to have their alumni complete one. And then, not to be greedy here, I’d encourage every state licensing board (Acupuncture, AOM, Medical, Aisan Medicine Practioner)….whatever you choose to call what we all know we are capable/scope-able of treating…to complete a ‘workforce’ standard survey too.

    It’s time for the entire profession to start facing reality on both educational time & cost and professional levels. There are so many patients who need to have access to our care. Thanks again Ginna for your start to this conversation.


  3. Maybe a little bit

    We can all agree that (for-profit) schools overcharge and are more interested in getting students in seats to pay tuition than they are about the future of the profession anything else. I can’t think of anyone who would say that these schools, or rather businesses, undercharge. 

    That being said, do I sue beer companies because supermodels won’t party with me if I drink their beer? Of course not, there has to be at least some concession that if I enter into willingly and freely, I should bear some responsibility for the outcome.

  4. AAAOM 2010 Annual Report

    See page 10 of the AAAOM 2010 Annual Report to see how little is actually being spent towards legal & legislative expenses. Annual payroll expenses exceed income derived from membership dues & donations combined. Maybe public education is a sub-category housed under the operating expenses line item but I have never, ever heard anyone in the general patient public talk about the AAAOM. While in school, I had to explain what role they were supposed to play in the alphabet org soup to many of my classmates.

  5. Change or die…..

    So reword the question and ask: why can’t they change? The national and state orgs need to start to understand they serve their membership who vote with dues. If dues start to fall, that is the first sign something might need to change. Spiders die and starfish thrive.

  6. I filled out a survey from

    I filled out a survey from NC AAOM recently.  I can post the questions here if you want, Jess.  I remember that a lot  questions had to do with insurance — Do you currently take insurance?  Do you think this organization should focus more on getting insurance to cover acupuncutre?  blah blah blah.

    I used this as an opportunity to tell the NC AAOM that the focus on the state organization should be to create jobs and btw I left North Carolina because I was offered an acu job. I am looking forward to having my pick taken with Andy, Mary and Bill.

    Thanks, ElizaDeath