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ScottC

Vancouver, WA

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#1
Oct 23, 2008
 
Hi, I've been accepted to American College of Traditional chinese medicine, but I'm having second thoughts about attending. I figure I might be in debt
for at least 10 years after I graduate. I'm already 33 years old. I figure I would owe about 130K after graduation.

Do you think I should go for it, and will I make it back? I'm already a computer programmer and make between 65K and 70K a year. I see a real problem and conflict of patient care and trying to pay back my loans. If I can't pay back my loans, I would feel like the pressure is now on me and I can't fully treat patients, but worry about money. If you know what I mean.

I would appreciate any feedback. Thanks.

Scott
siamacupuncture

San Francisco, CA

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#2
Nov 12, 2008
 
Scott,
your concerns are warranted. I was in a similar situation as you (computer engineer), and I have recently graduated from ACTCM.

Surviving as an acupuncturist is not easy. My best advice is to return to your hometown or another area after graduation to start your practice. SF is crowded.

Making money as an acupuncturist really comes down to learning to run your own business and marketing.

I suggest trying to work part-time as a programmer during school to decease the number of loans you need. SF should have a lot of job opportunities for you.

It's really about doing what you love. If it is your calling, you should go for it. The process is challenging, but worth it in the end.

you can contact me via siamacupuncture at gmail if you want to learn more.
Pablo

Denver, CO

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#3
Nov 18, 2008
 
Did my first post go through. Anyone out there?
Pablo

Denver, CO

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#4
Nov 20, 2008
 
I am also seriously considering attending TCM school. My Only big concern is assuming that debt without any job security. I am not a business man and never have been. Are 50% of graduates actually not practicing after 5 years? I get the feeling theres a lot of struggling Practitioners out there. The way the school administrative staff at the school and practitioners skirt around that subject leads me to this assumption. Nobody seems to offer any type of reassurance. I realize they do not want to be responsible for what happens after we graduate. And theyre not of course. We are all adults here. and I know there are no Guarantees. I'd just like to here some prosperous type of feedback I suppose. Some sort of reassurance that I can make it out there. Most people need a little of that I believe. We students are putting a lot of time, effort and money into this. I'd like something to look foreward to when I finally get that licence. I'm feeling stressed at the thought of what happens after graduation. Are things really bleak or am I just overreacting to my own insecurities. I am a Vegan, health conscious, happily married 45 year old Ophthalmic medical Technician. I feel I am a pretty normal person. I have been around the track a few times. I get a bit suspicious when people will not or cannot answer questions directly. I makes me feel like they are hiding the truth. It's not a deal breaker for me if it is very, very difficult to make it well in this field. I really want to do this and feel I can make a difference. I'd just like to know what I'm up against so I don't get into a situation I'd rather not be in. I can be unattached to outcomes and trust in the universe. I am also very pragmatic and do my research first. That is a lot to toss out there I know. I am just trying to find some reasonable answers to my questions so I can make the best decision possible. Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.
Pablo

Denver, CO

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#5
Nov 25, 2008
 
So, why is nobody giving feed back to me? I would simply like to know what your feeling is for the prospects of a new TCM graduate. Preferably from a practitioner standpoint. Thanks again, Pablo
Jade

Bradenton, FL

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#6
Dec 3, 2008
 
Pablo,

I am an Acupuncture Physician in Florida. Unfortunately, I do believe that only 50% of A.P.'s are still practicing after 5 years. I graduated 2 years ago and already some of my classmates are out the this field. I agree with siamacupuncture that acupuncture must be your calling and something you love to do no matter what. I am still struggling along with many of my classmates and the debt is overwhelming. Nevertheless, acupuncture is my calling so I sold my house to temporary live with my parents so that I could pay my bills and my student loan debt. Hope this helps.
Paul

Denver, CO

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#8
Dec 7, 2008
 
I just wonder if maybe you did not market yourself well enough. I'm sure you have tried very hard. I would if I were in your position. Who wouldn't. There's a system by Kevin Doherty called "Building your Dream Practice". Cds and all! Have you seen it? He is an Acupuncturist / Practice building coach here in Colorado. Check it out online. Maybe it's just a sales scam, but he seems pretty genuine. I'm gonna look further into it. He seems to feel that location is not a deal breaker and you can make it anywhere if you know what to do. And make a Six Figure income to boot! I don't know about that, but he's got me listening. Just a thought. Let me know how things turn out.
Paul
Sunny

United States

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#9
Dec 8, 2008
 
Hi ,I have been working TCM around 3 years, I knew someone could earn 200k ,and someone just fight for life. I also have Architecture degree ,but I love TCM. So point is do u have a passion for this. You have to ask ur self
Whitey

Camarillo, CA

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#10
Apr 3, 2009
 
Sunny wrote:
Hi ,I have been working TCM around 3 years, I knew someone could earn 200k ,and someone just fight for life. I also have Architecture degree ,but I love TCM. So point is do u have a passion for this. You have to ask ur self
It takes more than a passion to make it in this field. There are many writers and artists out there who are very passionate about their craft, but are forced to wait tables to pay the rent. What it REALLY takes is RESULTS.

If you're providing a valuable product (in this case, acupuncture treatments that really bring pain relief and better health) you won't have to worry much about marketing and advertising...word will eventually get out. Your skill will precede your reputation. I guess the point could be made that having a genuine passion for this stuff is an important factor in eventually ACQUIRING the skill you need, because that passion will motivate you to make the sacrifices (and there WILL be many sacrifices) you'll need to make in order to learn and develop that skill. However, first you have to make sure you're not fooling yourself...that your so-called "passion" isn't really a dissatisfaction with your current life situation and a confusion about which direction to go or a desire to do something "different".

Yes, making a good living out of acupuncture can be a real challenge. By "good living" I mean being a responsible citizen with a real business and not just a self-absorbed "hobby". This means being successful enough to have your own home, raise a family, pay for health and life insurance, send your kids to a good school, save for retirement, etc. instead of depending on other taxpayers to subsidize your lifestyle. One thing that gets some new graduates off to a good start is having some kind of established connections in the mainstream medical field, such as a husband/wife/good friends who are M.D.s or D.Cs, etc. But achieving long lasting success will ultimately depend on your skill (and thus the VALUE) you provide to your community.
Buffybuffy

Chicago, IL

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#11
May 26, 2009
 
I'm wondering if anyone has opinions on TCM programs near Boulder? I am relocating to Boulder area and looking to begin a program, but have found it difficult to get information on the schools in the area. I will be visiting to look for housing and visit with schools soon. Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated!!!
sheri southern cali

United States

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#12
May 26, 2009
 
Hi all. I'm considering TCM, but really am unsure as to what kind of results are really achieved, and what practioners and clients are seeking acupuncture for most. It seems as though there is much uncertainty in achieving success, so before I dedicate time and money, I would really like to hear any/all info I can get about the reality of it all. I'm a RN by trade but left nursing in 2001 per allergies to the hospital environment, and wouldn't go back if I could to any aspect of it, but am seeking a career that makes a difference- but that has autonomy.
Any success/horror stories, or advice in general?
I'd like to hear what conditions, problems, etc. acupuncture works for.
Thanks so much!
Well Balanced

United States

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#13
Jun 3, 2009
 
Hi Sheri,
As a practitioner of TCM for the last four years I can tell you that most ailments can be treated with much success. Of course the easiest to treat is pain because it usually doesn't have to do with internal organ patterns.
After graduation, I would suggest lining up a internship with a practitioner who specializes in the field you like most. You don't have to specialize, you can be a general practitioner, but most practitioners enjoy or are good at treating a specialty ailment.
The biggest issue to weight before going into TCM school is whether or not you want to be a small business owner. With out this desire and knowledge of how to run a business, your likely hood of being successful will be minimal. Ultimatly in the end your not just a practitioner, you're a jack of all trades.
I hope this helps in your decision.
You can check out my website to give you an idea of what I do to put my own spin on acupuncture.
lifewellbalanced.com
sheri southern cali wrote:
Hi all. I'm considering TCM, but really am unsure as to what kind of results are really achieved, and what practioners and clients are seeking acupuncture for most. It seems as though there is much uncertainty in achieving success, so before I dedicate time and money, I would really like to hear any/all info I can get about the reality of it all. I'm a RN by trade but left nursing in 2001 per allergies to the hospital environment, and wouldn't go back if I could to any aspect of it, but am seeking a career that makes a difference- but that has autonomy.
Any success/horror stories, or advice in general?
I'd like to hear what conditions, problems, etc. acupuncture works for.
Thanks so much!
sheri southern cali

Garden Grove, CA

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#15
Jun 7, 2009
 
Thank you for taking time to respond to my questions! It's a big comittment and a lot of time if it's something that doesn't really help. I'll check out your website!

Have a great evening,
Sheri
Matthew

Albuquerque, NM

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#17
Nov 19, 2009
 
Don't be an idiot! You have one life and it is now! Our lives are more than our work. You make good money as a programmer. Don't be a fool by taking on debt in an oversatuated field!
cleondann

Delhi, India

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#18
Mar 10, 2010
 

Judged:

1

There are number of acupuncturist started their own private career in acupuncture treatment. So, its become important for all of you to take your treatment from certified and qualified practitioner of acupuncture.
tao

Cleveland, OH

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#19
Mar 19, 2010
 
Acupuncture is a difficult way to make a living. The profession is itself in denial about this - not unlike the denial alcholic family dynamics. I've also heard that only about 20% of people who've been licensed are practicing today. It can be done but the odds of making a comfortable living doing it are stacked against you. There are people making money selling systems of marketing acupuncture who themselves are not making a living doing acupuncture - they make their money off you, the hungry practitioner.
Whitey

Camarillo, CA

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#20
Mar 19, 2010
 
Well said tao, and it's exactly how I feel (see my post,#10 above).

The field of acupuncture seems to attract a certain type of personality among people in their late 20s/early 30s. Most of them have the best intentions and are seriously looking for a rewarding career helping patients through a system of natural medicine.(Some of them are motivated by less noble reasons, such as ego; however that's a separate discussion.) After years of hard work plus lots of spent time and money, most new graduates have a rude awakening.

What they usually find out is that they can't just hang up their shingle and suddenly find themselves with patients lined up outside their door. They have to get out and become a self-marketer plus get engaged in all the other tedious but necessary aspects of running a small business. I'd venture to say that most people who choose to study acupuncture are not comfortable with these tasks.

It's at this point something becomes clear to the recent graduate: an entire sub-industry has popped up where past graduates unable to make a good living by actually PRACTICING acupuncture are making tapes, writing books and traveling the world giving seminars. In other words, they discovered, as tao indicates, it's more profitable to TEACH acupuncture than it is to DO it.

If you're sure that you're truly committed to the field for the long haul, you can possibly achieve success... but it'll be a hard road. You'd be advised to take a personal inventory of your skills and interests and see what other, more profitable career options appeal to you.

“Asheville Acupuncturist”

Since: Jan 10

Location hidden

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#21
Apr 1, 2010
 
Do it if you really feel like this is what you need to do with your life. Try not to put the money first, instead try to determine if you would be unhappy with your life if you DID NOT do it. Lots of other people have done it before you so, yes, it is absolutely possible for you to make it, that is not the issue. If you really want to do it you can definitely make it happen.
99Balloons

Longmont, CO

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#22
Aug 3, 2010
 
Not sure if you are still considering schools in Boulder, but I have just withdrawn from SWAC after 1 semester. I am transferring to a school out West. I would strongly discourage you from considering SWAC. It is a very watered-down education. I've been sorry to find that most acupuncture schools are much more interested in making money than in truly education future practitioners. In my opinion, there is only 1 exception to this rule. That is a school called SIOM in Seattle. Best of luck to you!
Buffybuffy wrote:
I'm wondering if anyone has opinions on TCM programs near Boulder? I am relocating to Boulder area and looking to begin a program, but have found it difficult to get information on the schools in the area. I will be visiting to look for housing and visit with schools soon. Any thoughts or suggestions are greatly appreciated!!!
Haywood Jablome

Woodbury, NJ

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#23
Aug 22, 2010
 
I wish more people would come forward and describe their experiences after graduating TCM schools-

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