In our experience, going to acupuncture school is a great decision for some people, and for other people it’s a serious mistake. Here are some questions we think you should ask yourself.
What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?
“Begin with the end in mind” is great advice in general, and it’s even better when it comes to acupuncture school. Have you talked with acupuncturists about what their work is like, and is that work you can see yourself doing for years? If you don’t know any acupuncturists personally, joining POCA as a student member and checking out the practitioner forums is a good way to get a sense of the job.
At this particular point in your life, what’s the purpose of going to acupuncture school?
Sometimes people go to acupuncture school because they’re in a life transition, they’re not sure what to do with themselves, and they’re looking for a magical solution. In our experience, this might work out, but it also might not, and by itself it’s not enough of a reason to make acupuncture school a good choice. Other reasons that aren’t necessarily enough: being fascinated with Chinese medicine in an abstract way; having received acupuncture and enjoyed it (you might like drinking coffee, but that doesn’t mean you’d be happy owning a coffeehouse); wanting to live a more natural/balanced life (there are lots of other ways to do that); and thinking that acupuncture just sounds cool, in general. Acupuncture is cool, but it’s also definitely not right for everybody.
You should apply to POCA Tech if what you are looking for is very specific training for a very specific occupation: low cost, high volume community acupuncture.
Should YOU be an acupuncturist?
Do you like people? Do you like being present for people when they’re stressed out, in pain, overwhelmed, or dealing with a serious health problem? How’s your patience? How’s your mental and physical stamina? Your fine motor skills? Your ability to focus? Acupuncture demands that you cultivate concentration, kindness, emotional stability, good boundaries, and self-care.
How realistic are your expectations for your acupuncture practice?
Most acupuncturists are self-employed. Have you ever owned your own small business, or have you worked for somebody else’s small business? Are you familiar with the differences between working in small business and, say, working for a bigger company? Is small business a good fit for your personality and circumstances? Small business demands that you cultivate organization, personal responsibility, problem-solving skills, persistence, and the ability to get along with other people.
How realistic are your expectations for acupuncture school -- particularly POCA Tech, since this is our page you’re reading right now?
Do you have the time and space in your life to take on this commitment? POCA Tech’s acupuncture classes are in modules, but that doesn’t mean you’re only in school once a month. You also need to make time for observation and clinical internship (also possibly science co-requisites, if you didn’t complete those before) -- and above all, you need to make time to study. You can’t get through acupuncture school without putting in the time to memorize. POCA Tech is a big commitment of time and energy.
Do you have the financial stability to be able to pay tuition and take care of your other needs? POCA Tech doesn’t offer federal student financial aid, so almost all students need to do some significant financial planning to figure out how they’re going to cover their costs. As it turns out, this isn’t the worst preparation in the world for figuring out how to own your own clinic after graduation.
Do you have the maturity to navigate a cooperative organization?
POCA Tech runs on a shoestring, and we need people to make the mental and emotional transition from student/consumer to practitioner/cooperative producer, very quickly. Like, within your first year. If you’re looking for a setting where you can walk in and demand what you want, this is emphatically not it. Odds are very high you’re going to have to make what you want, and/or figure out how to meet your own needs, in some significant ways. Again, this is actually pretty good preparation for cooperative entrepreneurship after graduation -- but it’s not a “normal” student experience and it’s really, really not for everybody.
Should you maybe go through the POCA Cooperative's Ear Training Program before you apply to acupuncture school?
Do you have any reservations about putting actual needles into actual humans? Are you curious about acupuncture but a 3 year Master's level program sounds too long? Heed that cautionary impulse! You can learn more here.