A common question that people ask about acupuncture is, how well does it work? Or even, does it work? When I get this question, I respond: Well, there’s a continuum. MOST people benefit from acupuncture in certain predictable ways: stress reduction, more energy, better mood, a decrease in symptoms from chronic conditions and more rapid healing from acute conditions. That represents the middle of the continuum. And of course, as with any kind of therapy, there are some people that acupuncture just doesn’t work for -- that’s one end of the continuum, people who try it but don’t feel any better.
And then there’s the other end of the continuum, the people for whom acupuncture is utterly life changing, where access to acupuncture represents the difference between quality of life versus no quality of life. There aren’t as many people on either end of the continuum as there are in the middle, but -- there are people for whom getting acupuncture is a matter of life and death.
Sometimes people don’t believe me when I say this, but these life changing results happen quietly, but on the regular, in community acupuncture clinics like ours. And actually, an example JUST happened recently in the student clinic. A patient, let’s call her H, agreed to tell her story to a student intern, so that we could share it with you. Here it is:
“H is a woman in her 60s who came in to the student clinic with 10/10 back pain and sciatica. She also struggled with severe depression and anxiety, and was only sleeping 1 to 2 hours a night due to the pain. She walked slowly with a walker and needed assistance getting in and out of the chair.
H says that when she started coming to the clinic, she was losing her mobility rapidly due to some spinal issues. Her doctor told her that her pain would be chronic and largely untreatable outside of injections (which her insurance would not cover). She was then put on medication which she says made her feel suicidal. With a shaky voice, she shares that she had lost all hope of being able to care for herself much longer. She says she could barely dress herself or shower. She had stopped going to church, and had difficulty even getting her weekly groceries. The pain was relentless and she could not expect anything except increasing deterioration. But after her very first acupuncture treatment she noticed a difference. “I instantly felt relief and my mood improved!” Over the next four months, her pain went from 10/10 to 1/10.
Although her pain fluctuates, she says now it never gets above a 4/10. She has traded her walker for a cane, and has come in to the clinic on occasion without even that. She tells me she is able to sleep for several hours each night, and her overall stress and anxiety has improved immensely. She is able to get dressed and shower without difficulty. She is more active in general, and able to complete all her housework. She even goes for little walks everyday, which she could not even dream of doing a year ago. Her children came to visit from out of town and were astonished at the change. She says her friends comment all the time on how much she’s improved.
H lives alone and is on a fixed income. I asked her how affordable the student clinic was for her. She said the payment plan of $20/month is very affordable and makes it possible for her to come in up to three times a week. She notices that when she misses a couple appointments, her pain starts to flare up. She conveys her gratitude for the ease and accessibility of acupuncture -- “the one thing that is making a difference.”
Those hopeless days are now firmly in the past.”
H started getting acupuncture in the student clinic in late July. As of early November, H had received 43 acupuncture treatments -- 36 of those were from students, many of them from second year students who had JUST started clinic.
These amazing, life changing, hope-restoring results -- POCA Tech student interns (and H!) did this.
H’s story is WHY we have an acupuncture school -- because chronic pain, all by itself, is a life-threatening condition for too many people. This is exactly the work we want to train our students to do. But in order for our students to get acupuncture licenses and go treat more people like H after they graduate, our school needs to be accredited.
And it is so, so expensive to be an accredited acupuncture school.
This is a re-accreditation year for us which happens every 5 to 7 years and -- it’s even more expensive than usual, because we have to go through a review and then host a site visit. We HAVE to do this if we want to stay open, it’s not optional. Here’s what being accredited is going to cost us this year (on top of our normal operating expenses):
$4,000 -- what we have to pay our accreditors to read the 115 page report we wrote
$7,600 -- the fee to participate in a site visit where they come to see if the report was accurate
$10,000 -- the cost of having a financial audit from a specialized CPA firm (separate from our taxes) to go with our report
$8,000 -- the basic annual dues we pay to our accreditor
$6,000 -- travel and lodging for the site visitors
That’s an extra $35,600 our little school has to come up with. We run on a shoestring budget and we don’t want to pass these costs on to our students -- because our goal is to keep the costs of attending POCA Tech as low as possible. Almost all our students are self-funding their educations by working their way through school. And many patients like H, who need acupuncture the most, also need to pay below our sliding scale in order to get enough treatments to manage their pain.
So this is us asking you for your help to get through this accreditation year.
If you can make a one time contribution to our $35,600 accreditation costs -- of ANY amount, EVERYTHING is appreciated -- it would mean the world to us.
Please consider becoming a Sustainer if you haven’t, and if you have -- we are SO grateful to you. Those monthly $5 or $10 donations literally keep a roof over our heads and allow us to provide low cost treatments. I hope that all of our Sustainers understand what your support means to someone like H, who was truly desperate for relief. Thank you.
Especially because of inflation, we know that raising the money we need is a matter of asking enough people for help. We have always depended on many small donations from people of modest means. So finally -- can you help us ask? Can you share this letter with at least one other person, and ask them to maybe share it as well? And if you have any contacts with people who are connected to foundations or otherwise able to give more, who you think might be moved by H’s story and the life changing impact of community acupuncture, would you ask them too? We can only raise the money we need for accreditation costs if we get the word out.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for caring about making acupuncture, and acupuncture education, accessible to the people who need it most.