Toaster Tour Interview #3: Eric Raymond Buckley, CA, MS

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?

There a so few jobs because we learn a way of understanding the body that is vastly different than western medicine. It is our responsibility to translate our understanding into something that our culture can more easily approach. Our schools have kept us separate by remaing in private hands. This education should be put into community colleges and universities. It would then be easier to be accepted as part of the health career culture. It tells me that we have a lot of work to do for our future students and patients to help this medicine become more widely accepted. It also tells me that the acu-establishmet has built a bubble that will pop over the hopes and dreams of hapless students.

2) What jobs for acupuncturists do you know of that fit the criteria of The Toaster Tour — real, relevant, and replicable?  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.

Schools, private practice, CAN clinics, hospitals, cruise lines, spas (although my opinion considers these last two to be irrelavent.) Oh yeah, there is also a lot of us working at wholefoods and as waiters. To give a specific example, see #3.

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

The largest employer I can think of is Integrative Therapies at Longmont Hospital in Longmont Colorado. They have been around for like 14 +/- years. I think they have like ten practitioners or something. In a broader sense. You can find them with a google search. Acu schools are the largest employers (although these people are teaching primarily and doing acu primarily.) It backs up the old addage that those who can’t do, teach. In other words, there are no jobs, there is only financial aid.

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?

Well more schools obviously (just kidding). We need a better education than the crap the schools feed us. Part of the problem is that a lot of the people who choose this education are anti-establishment freaks, so you get very poorly run schools, because that’s the only place to get a job. We also need to learn to communicate better with the other people who work in medicine, no matter what their title. In general, we need to become more inclusive and not remailn exclusive and opposing. We are responsible. We got stuck in the butt by the acu-man with empty promises. It our job to turn it around into something good.

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?

Let’s think. I took out the student loans, whether based on false premise or not. If I hadn’t, I probably still be picking arugula and onions every day. Well no more dirt farming for this guy! Woo hoo! But seriously though, the solution is for us, as practitioners to make the world a more hospitable place for us and our medicine. Get the education out of private hands and into the public schools. The teachers would get paid better and have more respect, too. We are responsible for making a better future from the crap we were handed and the crap we were born with. Sucks, huh 🙂 Eric

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. So…

    There is a lot which could be said about your comments, Eric.  What most caught my attention was the fact that you worked your way into a hospital position by starting as a CNA.

    You started as an $8/hour, entry-level, working class, blue-collar, hospital employee.  CNA courses are commonly offered at community and technical colleges.

    It was not necessary for you to acquire a Doctorate Degree.  The hospital administrators were listening to you before you even had your Master’s Degree.  Your education had no impact on your ability to acquire a hospital-based-job.  An FPD or DAOM would not have increased your job prospects in a hospital setting, as a simple CNA position was all you needed to get your foot in the door.

    To me, that says a lot about the futility of a doctoral degree (FPD or DAOM) for the purpose of gaining a job in a medical setting.

  2. also

    Eric, can you post details of other hospitals you know of that hire L.Acs? We’ve got CTCA accounted for, and we’re not even going to mention Beth Israel in NY, but I would love to make a list of others. Remember: independent contractor positions DO NOT COUNT.

  3. Clarification based on your comments

    Hi Jessica,
    First of all, I apologize that I called you Jennifer in my last post. I should have been more attentive.

    Secondly, I am nor ever have been a CNA. I applied to a job as a nurses aid, which hospitals will train you to do with only Medical Terminology and a GED (which I have). This is an entry level position. Hospitals will also pay for any degree which you wish to obtain. Such is the desperation of health care for qualified employees.

    Thirdly, the license title in New Mexico is Doctor of Oriental Medicine. I have a Masters of Science Degree. Same as all entry level LAcs. It is the same as in Florida where the license title is Acupuncture Physician. Or Rhode Island where the title is Doctor of Acupuncture. My education had a DIRECT IMPACT on my ability to present myself as an educated medical professional. I paid attention in school (unlike some in my class who slept or were surfing the net in class, or where too busy criticizing their education and not maximizing the experience).

    Fourthly, as my position proves, (since again, I only have the regular masters degree) it is NOT necessary for one to get a Doctorate Degree to work in a hospital setting. Sadly, our masters education ON ITS OWN, does not provide one with the skills to do what I do. It took a lot of extra work on my part. I did the three year program which had me in school 20-30 hours a semester. Then I worked two twelve hour shifts in the hospital Sat and Sun. In lieu of this, there needs to be more REAL biomed classes (taken seriously by school and student) to make the Master’s Degree ALONE prepare one for hospital work. And some hands on training of how to work in a large institutional setting. At this point, one does need the extra degree because this is where one gets this extra training. It is CRIMINAL that our Masters Degree does not do this. We should not need this extra training, but the reality is that our Master’s Degree’s are FAKE and could be aquired by the average high school student (who sleeps and surfs the net in class and smokes a lot of pot).


  4. Ones that I know of

    Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center, Santa Fe, NM

    University of New Mexico Center for Life, Albuquerque, NM

    Longmont United Hospitals Integrative Therapies, Longmont Colorado

    MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston Texas

    University of Colorado Hospital, Boulder CO

    Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit MI

    Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston MA

    Thomas Jefferson Hospital, Phila PA (my home town)

    Pacific Coast Hospital, SF, CA

    UCLA Hospital, LA, CA

    Sharp Coronado Hospital, Coranado, CA

    Beth Israel, NYC, NY

    St Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, NYC, NY

    University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

    Hartford Hospital, Hartford, CN

    Abbott Northwestern Hospital, Minneapolis, MN

    Exempla Lutheran Medical Center, Denver CO

    Mercy Regional Medical Center, Durango, CO

    Cancer Treatment Centers of America, many locations, USA

    Samaritan Health Services, Corvalis and Albany, OR

    I know there is more, but these are the ones that researched while developing the one I created. And by the way, we are starting an inpatient integrative pain management program which we will be hiring another LAc for.