So You Want to be an LAc

Dear A,

I don’t know whether I am a leader. I do know that there is a big difference between being a leader and being a cheerleader. I care too much about my profession and the medicine of acupuncture to blindly cheer it on. I speak up because I care.

I assumed when you asked me about a career in acupuncture that you wanted the honest feedback of one who has seen it from the inside. The field does have challenges: the education is expensive; the schools do not do an equally good job of teaching the medicine or preparing graduates for business success; there is no reliable way to know which programs are doing a good job; rules and regulations vary so that your education may only provide you limited opportunity; you will likely begin practice as a self-employed individual starting a business from the ground up, and so on. I did not say it was the most expensive or most difficult profession, and, as I did say, I love acupuncture and am happy to be an acupuncturist. It was not my intention to “actively discourage” you, but to help you enter with eyes wide open.

My concerns about Medicare are varied, but overwhelmed acupuncturists is not one of them.  In the 2010 AA letter you found I was pointing out that the cost savings of Medicare inclusion being promoted by the profession could not be realized through the efforts of LAc’s alone. There were not enough acupuncturists, especially LAc’s interested in participating in Medicare, and those individuals were not geographically distributed such that they could create the savings being touted.  For much of the profession the thought of non-LAcs doing acupuncture is Anathema and interfering with the ability of other health care professionals to use our techniques continues to be a major focus of political involvement and spending. It is reasonable to point out to the profession that the Medicare push may undermine efforts to maintain a monopoly of the medicine. Your accusation that I am personally driven by a fear of competition could not be further from the truth. I have repeatedly urged my colleagues to drop their monopolistic mind-set and focus on self-improvement and promotion.

I am sorry that my response upset you.

Copyright —

© Elaine Wolf Komarow and The Acupuncture Observer, 2013-2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express written permission from Elaine Wolf Komarow is prohibited. Excerpts and links are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given with specific direction to the original content.

One thought on “So You Want to be an LAc

  1. I had a sad experience with a different ‘potential’ acupuncture student. Asked her if she wanted my honest opinion, or not. She said, “Oh, yes!”

    I gave her my unvarnished opinion, including joys and sorrows, plus the names of other new graduate L.Acs that she could contact, in case I was just an outlier in my opinions. This included people from at least two schools. I also directed her to some great online resources to read some reflections from people across the country struggling with the reality post-graduation.

    She hasn’t spoken to me since. I spent a good deal of time speaking to her and connecting her to resources – I’m not sure I would spend that kind of time again with the next person unless they demonstrated their willingness to hear my truth.

    This is a beautiful art, acupuncture is. I am constantly fed by my interactions with my amazing and wonderful patients. I can’t imagine having any other job now (and I’ve worked in so many fields that I feel I know what other options are, and that I have the talent to do well in other careers). And, as we know, it is far from simple to feed yourself when you are just beginning as an entrepreneur, hanging out a shingle on your own. For me, I am willing to bear the burdens and make my way, terrifying though it is. For that person who was considering a 3 hour (each way) commute to the closest school, while raising 3 small children, and unsure of where their next move would take them — I am sorry I discouraged you!

    Thx, Elaine!

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