Where I am now.

I graduated from TCM school in December of 2007, became licensed in March of 2008, and opened a CA clinic (with my two partners) in mid-September of 2008.  So, I’m a newbie.  A newbie who has — other that a few temporary gigs waiting for Circle to open its doors — worked only in a CA setting.  I figure it is an appropriate time to stop and take stock of how I’m progressing after 10 months of poking folks.

Where am I technique-wise?

I’m getting better.  I’m still at the stage where I have patient’s walk through the door with conditions I’ve never seen before, but I’m now at a point where that doesn’t cause me to panic or stall.  I’m becoming comfortable enough, that I have an idea of where to begin with someone.  

Some conditions I have seen so often now, that I’ve had chances to experiment and find what does and not work.  I have the inkiing of a feeling that I’m getting “my style.”  In other words, I’m finding out what works for me. 

Where am I confidence-wise?

At the beginning I had read so many Tan and Tung resources that I was convinced I could “fix” anything.  Believe me, I got over that pretty quickly.  I’ve taken some “failures” pretty hard, and had some rough days and weeks of worrying what I was doing wrong.  I would have shifts where I’d wonder why everything felt off and nothing worked the way I expected.  Slowly, I’m letting go of that.  I’m beginning to let go of cocky confidence in my self (ego) and starting to gain confidence in acupuncture.  I’ve seen enough people now that it is starting to sink in that I don’t have to seek the “perfect miracle” treatment, but just trust the needles and the patient’s inherent ability to heal.  

Where am I communication-wise?

Hmmm.  Needs work.  Just as reading a bunch of Tan/Tung notes gave me a false self-confidence, I also felt early on that I’d read so much CAN that I “got it.”  Since I “got it” I must naturally be communicating properly to patients.  Only recently have I started to realize that I need to communicate clearly and with brevity.  What do patients want to hear?  They want to hear this will most likely help them, that it will probably take a while before it helps them a lot, and that they need to come “x” times at “x” frequency if they want to see lasting results.   “X” has been my stumbling block.  I’m getting a feel for what “X” should be for some patients, and more importantly, I’m learning how to be honest and say I’m not sure what “x” should equal, but let’s try this for a while and then re-evaluate.  

Lisa’s recent blogs on Finding Normal have been helpful and eye opening.  Lately, I’ve been listening to the words that come out of my mouth when I’m talking to patients, and wondering if they are honest and how they sound to the patient.  I’m not sure where I’m headed in this exercise, but it seems to be headed down the path of “holding space” for people that Lisa writes about.  I’m not sure how to articulate what I’m learning right now, but I’ll report back in the future.

Where am I as a business owner/partner?

Hoo boy.  Last month I acted like a royal jerk to one of my partner-punks.  Big display of foot-in-mouth and assiness.  Much of what I said came from a place of ego.  Hopefully, I’ve learned from that experience.  A partnership is a precious oportunity to learn how to give space to another person to be themself.  Sometimes you learn that lesson by ramming your head into a (metaphorical) brick wall.

Running a business is new to me.  At times I’ve felt odd or uncomfortable talking about how to get more patients, and how to market to people.  That is beginning to shift.  The more I come from a place of having confidence in acupuncture (instead of my genius) the more marketing comes naturally.  Getting more people in the door and sitting in chairs is less of a financial desire, and more of an ethical imperative.

Where do I want to be in the future?

Not sure.  After writing all of the above statements, I want to dive further into the meaning of having confidence in acupuncture and removing my ego from the process. I want to do more CA. 

If you are a student or new-punk reading this and thinking about going the CA route.  Do it.  You have nothing to loose but your ego, and you’ll gain a lot of experience getting there.

Author: Davelcorp

I'm French-Irish-American hybrid living in SF, married to a Irish-American gal from New Hampshire. I have a son named after my hometown in Texas; he was born in the year of the Monkey (me--the Dog.) I went to school to learn how to stick needles into people in order to make them feel better. I'm broke, in-debt, and pay too much rent for a <strike>one-bedroom</strike> two-bedroom apartment. I have health insurance but owe about $2000 in medical bills and believe that CA will make my life, and others like me, more comfortable. I also have about 20 kilos of puer tea aging in a red metal cabinet -- I plan to drink it all before my days are over.  

Related Articles

Survey of CAN clinics

Skeptics in the acupuncture community say that CA clinics can’t be successful.  A variety of reasons are cited – prices too low, patients want one-on-one attention and wouldn’t like treatments in a room with other people, Dr.


  1. Great post.
    It really

    Great post.

    It really resonates with a lot of what I’m experiencing these days…. (we started out around the same time…)

    Sounds like you’re doing great work.

    Best of luck!


  2. I had no idea…

    that our paths were so similar!  Your post is great, poignant and I can personally relate to so much of what you have said – especially regarding it being about the acupunture, not us, and about the communication and the ethical imperative.

    Thanks so much for sharing… and congrats on an awesome foray into CA!

  3. I enjoyed reading this so

    I enjoyed reading this so much, David.  Thank you for giving us a little glimpse into your ruminations.  Of the cerebral kind, that is. 


    Truly, I learn so much from this kind of self-reflexive processing.  May you and your clinic continue to grow, thrive and prosper!



  4. keep at it or ……

    Your post is so honest, I love it. Your comments are things I have gone thru and have gone through over and over. Even within Community Acupuuncture setting, there are many issue that we deal with personally and professionally. I believe some of those issues are the reason so many grads do not make it in this business.

    Good luck, keep at it…….


    Dr. Rose

  5. You rock so hard, Davel. 

    You rock so hard, Davel.  Thanks for being such an inspiration and a role model–and also for being hilarious.

     : )