We’ve all heard it, along with “we are doing the best we can with the resources we have” and, “if you participate you can help set our direction.” Heck, I’ve said those things.
Yet membership in most organizations is steady or declining. News of trouble in the AAAOM was met with a yawn. Many acupuncturists are active, involved, motivated people in general, so why do so many of our voluntary organizations struggle?
In a Facebook conversation regarding the AAAOM a current board member wrote “…if we were to have had one failure as an organization … it has been our challenges in staying in touch … to keep everyone up to date about what we’re doing, what we’re facing and how we’re being successful. I can see how not hearing from us creates space for concern and allows the possibility to misinterpret truth from reality.” If there has been one failure??
Another board member dismissed the recent resignations as a necessary step in getting “like-minded” folks on the board. Then, as the day follows the night, the conversation pivoted to a plea for unity, so we could get the big things done, like the FPD. (There’s a unifying topic.)
Having served on the board of my state association for years I remember the difficulty of trying to do much with little. Yet my recent offer [early 2014] to teach members about strategic policy planning was quickly dismissed with “no one would come, but if you write something we’ll distribute it.” And my recent attempts to communicate with board members (whom I consider to be my friends and respected colleagues) about some of the association’s positions were dismissed with “the membership elects the board and the board sets the agenda” and “I know there are differences but I don’t care about the details.”
Is it any surprise that struggling practitioners aren’t convinced that joining and participating in these organizations will produce results?
One membership organization is doing well. As of February 15th POCA had 1569 members, including 242 clinic memberships (which each include one practitioner membership) and an additional 653 practitioner memberships. It isn’t easy to get membership figures for other acupuncture organizations, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that POCA currently has the largest practitioner membership of the national voluntary acupuncture organizations. (POCA’s 895 patient membership isn’t too shabby either.) POCA doesn’t claim or try to be the organization for everyone, but it has one heck of a mission and is clearly doing a few things right.
Here’s a real kick in the gut — did you know that a group of AOM Leaders has been meeting since 2005 to “promote the general interest of the acupuncture profession”? The next meeting will be held in just a few weeks. Look at the list of past attendees. Who is representing your needs and interests to this group? Who decides on the participants? Has POCA been invited? Have any of the participants investigated why so few practitioners (who invested in the expensive education, sat for the expensive exams, maintain the expensive credentials) join their acupuncture organizations? It is not because we are a young profession and it is not because we are cats, difficult to herd.
Is the message that the interest of “the profession” doesn’t include the interests of practitioners?
Last week’s poll was a tie, so this post is a mash-up. There is plenty to explore regarding our acupuncture organizations. For now, it’s time come up with a plan. How do we get the “leaders” to consider the needs of those they claim to lead? Don’t say by joining groups that don’t seem to care.