Community acupuncture: Economic access/stability

Dim room of napping people in recliners

Acupuncture that people can’t afford to try is acupuncture that doesn’t work. Full stop.

While the most basic need of physical safety for acupuncture is relatively easy to meet, this next level makes up for it by being excruciatingly difficult. This level encompasses not only affordability for patients, but having an economic delivery mechanism for acupuncture that exists, as opposed to not existing. This level means acupuncturists who are in business, as opposed to not in business. This level means small businesses surviving more than a couple of years. It means practitioners not entering practice with student loan debt that they’ll never repay.

All sorts of beautiful dreams crash and burn at this level. The mobile acupuncture clinic in the Airstream trailer, the community acupuncture clinic that only serves people that its owner personally approves of, the acupuncture clinic near the beach with the flexible, ever-changing hours built around its owner’s surfing schedule…the list goes on. It’s easy to imagine acupuncture practice scenarios that you want, and much harder to establish them in reality. Hospital-based integrative medicine centers that go out of business because they can’t make their revenue streams work, no matter how shiny and impressive they are, fail at this level.

This level is where the POCA Cooperative lives. It’s the co-op’s reason for being: to provide collaborative, self-organized support for acupuncturists being in business and delivering acupuncture in forms that patients can afford to access. And the co-op came into being in part because almost nobody else in the acupuncture profession wants to hang out down here (or even acknowledge that “down here” exists, even though it keeps undermining the rest of the pyramid).

Acupuncture that people can’t get, because there’s no economically viable place to get it, is acupuncture that doesn’t work.

An excerpt from “Hierarchy of Needs (for Acupuncture)”, by Lisa Rohleder, L.Ac.

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